How to Grow Begonia Pavonina (Peacock Begonia)

The begonia pavonina is also known as the peacock begonia. It gets its name from its beautiful bright blue colors that kind of remind you of a peacock’s unfurled blue features.

But that’s not all. If you look closer, you’ll notice that the undersides of its leaves have a dark red color, which adds to its beauty.

However, the most interesting thing about the plant is that its leaves change color. More on that below and how you can make it do so.

The begonia pavonina also produces lovely white and pink flowers. But, they’re not the main attraction of the plant.

Begonia Pavonina Plant Care

Begonia Pavonina Light

The begonia pavonina is a very interesting plant because its leaves change colors depending on how much light they receive. To understand this better, it is important to tract it back to is roots.

The plant is native to the rainforests of Malaysia. As such, it doesn’t get a lot of light because of all the larger plants and trees overhead.

So, it had to become more efficient in making do with whatever sun it could get.

And, to do so, its leaves turn blue.

Plants need enough light to support photosynthesis where they produce energy to survive. Because it only got a handful of light being below larger plant, its leaves change color.

Scientists found that its bluish hue allots it to get more energy out of the green and light from the sun’s color spectrum.

So, how does this affect you?

It means that the plant likes bright, indirect light. But, while it does receive sufficient light in this condition, you won’t see it turn blue. Instead, it will have a greenish bronze color to it.

This is less eye-catching than bright blue. But, combined with the dark red leaf underside and pink flowers, you still have a very beautiful plant nevertheless.

One the other hand, in low light conditions, it begins to turn blue. Here, you want to strike a balance between low light and darkness. While the darker it gets, the more blue it turns to absorb more light, it is isn’t healthy for the plant.

So, you want to find the balance of beauty and health. At least if you want to enjoy its blue color.

Just as importantly, this blue hue only comes out with natural light (sunlight). You won’t get as bright an effect with artificial lighting.

With that out of the way, the most important thing you need to know is to avoid direct sunlight. This will burn its leaves.

As such, a north facing window is a great spot for this plant. You can likewise keep it at an east facing window a bit away from the light if you want to get some bluish hints.

 

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Begonia Pavonina Temperature & Humidity

Begonia pavonina does best when temperature stays between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not frost hardy. So, you don’t want it staying anywhere that gets colder than 50 degrees.

Similarly, it isn’t a fan of warmer conditions. While most begonias can tolerate a little more warmth, this one doesn’t like it, especially at night.

So, if you live in a warmer region, try to keep it somewhere cool like a corner. Since it doesn’t mind low light, it will do well in bedrooms and bathrooms which tend to be cooler than other spaces in the home.

The other thing to consider with climate is humidity. Ideally, keep relative humidity between 60% and 80%. You can go down to 45% or 50%. But, not below that.

Higher humidity allows the plant grow faster and look better. And, you can easily see the difference when air moisture drops.

If you’re not sure what the humidity is at home, you can get a digital hygrometer. This is a cheap device that instantly shows you the humidity reading. From there, you can adjust upwards using a variety of methods.

This includes:

  • A water tray with the plant on top of rocks of pebbles away from the water.
  • Grouping it with other plants.
  • Keeping the begonia pavonina in the bathroom

If your home’s humidity is low, these methods may not increase air moisture enough to bring it up to desired levels. Should that be the case, you can get a humidifier.

Humidifiers allow you to increase humidity substantially if needed. Plus, you can do so precisely via the setting, depending on the produce you get.

However, you do not want to mist this plant. While misting does increase moisture, it also wets the leaves. Since the begonia pavonina is prone to powdery mildew and other fungal problems, it is not a risk worth taking.

 

Watering Begonia Pavonina

Begonia pavonina needs evenly most soil. But, you want to be careful not to overwater is or allow the soil to stay sogging. The plant is also prone to root rot, which can eventually kill your plant.

This makes overwatering, be it over drenching it when you water or watering too often, its biggest enemy.

That said, don’t allow the soil to dry either. This will likewise cause it to struggle. However, lack of moisture is a much easier fix as the plant will recover once you give it enough hydration. But, it is not a good idea to allow it go dry too often or for too long.

As such, two of the best options I’ve found to check when to water your begonia pavonina are:

  • Use a moisture meter. This is the more precise way to measure water. Just stick the device in the soil and check the digital reading. Very accurate down to the last digit. This makes it perfect for beginners or if you have a hard time estimating dryness and wetness of the soil.
  • Use your finger. Stick your index finger down to a depth of between 1 to 2 inches into the soil. If the soil is dry, it is time to water. If it is still wet or moist, wait 1 to 2 days before checking again.

Because the time of year plays a huge role in how fast water is used up, you’ll be watering more frequently in the summer and much less in the winter.

The summer is likewise when the plant is in its growing season. As such, its needs more water and fertilizer at this time. In the winter, it goes into dormancy. Together with the cold weather, this slows down water absorption and evaporation. So, it is better to scale back considerably on your watering routine.

 

Soil

The most important thing with soil for your begonia pavonina is that it should drain moisture well.

This is because begonia pavonina is prone to root rot and fungal diseases. The former can easily kill your plant. And, the latter can cause significant damage to the stems and leaves if not treated quickly.

The reason this can become a problem is that the plant likes moist soil. So, you need to find a balance between enough and too much moisture.

Basically, you want soil to retain enough moisture to hydrate the plant and allow it to absorb nutrients and fertilizer (which it can only do with water). But, it needs to drain well enough to so water doesn’t sit in the soil.

As such, you can use high quality potting soil that’s loose and airy. Then add perlite to improve drainage.

Alternatively, you can also use peat moss or sphagnum moss and combine it with perlite, pumice or vermiculate.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of having to mix potting soil yourself., pick up commercial African violet potting soil. it works well for begonias because it provides the properties mentioned above.

 

Fertilizing

Begonia pavonina is a heavy feeder. As such, it needs to be fed once every two weeks.

Use a balanced liquid fertilizer that’s 20-20-20. Make sure you dilute it so as not to overfeed the plant. High concentrations is worse that not feeding the plant enough because the salt residue build up from it will cause root burn.

You can use synthetic or organic depending on what you prefer. Both work well. Although synthetic is cheaper is does leave more salt in the soil.

Organic is more expensive. It also contains lower doses so you spend even more. But, it offers a wider range of nutrients. And less remnants as well.

 

Pruning

This is a fairly fast grower. As such, pruning helps control its size and shape. While it doesn’t grow too tall (only up to 16 or so inches high), it can become leggy.

When it does, you want to trim off the leggy parts to allow for fresh growth. Often, this fixes that issue.

Additionally, remove any dead, damaged or discolored leaves so your plant doesn’t expend energy and nutrients on these.

 

Propagation

The best (and easiest) way to propagate begonia pavonina is via stem cuttings. Here’s how to do it step by step.

Take a stem cutting from your plant. You want to take a healthy stem to be 4-6 inches long with a few leaves on it. Use sterilize scissors or pruning shears and cut it just under a node.

Once you have the cutting, you have two options. Allow it to root in water. Or, plant it directly into soil.

How to Propagate Begonia Pavonina in Water

Propagating begonia pavonina in water takes an extra step. But, it roots faster. And, I’ve found you get better success rates going straight into soil.

  • Once you have the cutting, remove the lower leaves since they’ll go in the water anyway.
  • Place it stem end into a jar or glass of water.
  • Keep the jar with bright, indirect light.
  • After a few weeks, you’ll see roots begin to grow from the stem end. The benefit of using water is you can actually see the roots grow day by day.
  • Once the roots are developed, move it into a pot with fresh well-draining potting mix.
  • You can cover the pot with a plastic bag with some ventilation to increase humidity. This will help it grow faster.
  • Then take care of its like you would the mother plant.

How to Propagate Begonia Pavonina in Soil

Here’s you’ll take a slightly different approach. But, it consists of similar steps.

  • Once you have the stem cutting, allow the end to dry and callous.
  • When it callouses, dip the end in rooting hormone. These two steps improve rooting and speed up the process as well.
  • Now, place the stem cutting into fresh well-draining potting mix.
  • Again, you can cover the pot with a plastic bag poked with holes for ventilation.
  • Keep the plant in bright, indirect light. After a few weeks, it will being to ro.
  • After a few months, you’ll see it sprouting.

 

Begonia Pavonina Transplanting & Repotting

Every 1 to 2 years, you will need to repot your begonia pavonina. While the plant doesn’t mind being slightly rootbound, once it outgrows its container, you’ll need to move it to a larger pot.

Keeping it in its existing container will limit its growth. After a while, it will begin experience stress because of being contained in too small a space.

Similarly soil will dry fasting increase risk of dehydration if you to increase frequency.

So, once you see its roots crowd the container. That’s a sure sign that the plant has outgrown its current living space.

The best time to repot begonia pavonina is during the spring. And, you want to go up only one size. If he plant is really big, maybe two sizes up (4 inches). You don’t want to give it too much soil relative it’s the plant’s size.

When repotting make sure to use fresh soil. Go with African violet mix or a combination of sphagnum moss and perlite. This will ensure enough drainage.

 

Toxicity

Begonia pavonina is toxic. So, keep it away from young kids, cats and dogs who might get curious and ingest any part of the plant. If this does happen, make sure to call your pediatrician, or veterinarian to make sure.

While the plant isn’t deadly, ingesting can cause a wide range of mouth, throat and digestive problems.

 

Pests

Begonia pavonina are amazingly interesting plants because of their blue colors. This makes them instant attractions in your home.

But, there’s a catch.

They come with quite a bit of pest and disease vulnerabilities. As such, you’ll need to be ready to deal with these to keep it healthy and looking good.

Pests like mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, whiteflies and thrips all like this plant. As such, keeping it clean and giving it the proper living conditions will help it stave off these attackers.

On your part, you also need to do regular inspection. Once a week or every two weeks is a must.

And, once you find any sign of a pest or damage it cause, it is important to immediate treat it.

Most pests are treated by spraying with insecticidal soap solution. You can also use neem other.

 

Diseases

Because the plant likes moist soil and high humidity, it also increases the risk of fungal diseases to which it is susceptible to. Sitting water is always a no-no with plants

Root rot and powdery mildew are among the common ones. And, you want to avoid both, especially root rot which well destroy the plant’s root preventing them from absorbing water and nutrients. As a result, it will eventually kill your plant.

This is one reason why you don’t want to water the plant from overhead wetting its leaves. Similarly, misting can be risky because too much water sprayed on leaves likewise up the risk

Similarly, you don’t want to over water to overwater your plant or let it sit in water for long periods of time.

When watering do so in the morning so there’s enough sun and warm weather to help dry excess moisture. Late afternoons and night time are the worst times to water or mist since it is cooler and no sun to evaporate excess moisture.

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