Bronze Leaf Begonia is a type of wax begonia. You can grow it indoors or outdoors, in pots or in the ground.
This is the perfect plant if you want to add bright red-pink color to your living room or backyard. It produces lots of flowers and the leaves play a supporting role.
Note that you’ll see a number of different Bronze Leaf Begonia varieties.
All of them look very much alike. But their size, bushiness and how their flowers grow will vary.
Two or the more popular varieties include the whopper begonia and begonia big red bronze leaf. Both have slightly different looks and sizes compared to the regular Bronze Leaf Begonia.
How do you care for the Bronze Leaf Begonia? Keep the plant in medium to bright indirect light to allow it to maintain flowering.
Avoid low light as this reduces its ability to bloom. And don’t leave it in excess intense light as the leaves will scorch.
It enjoys warm, humid temperatures. But avoid the cold. Similarly, don’t overwater the plant.
Bronze Leaf Begonia Plant Care
The Bronze Leaf Begonia differs from other begonia varieties in that it can tolerate more sunlight. This lets you place it locations that the others cannot tolerate.
The reason for this is its darker toned bronze leaves.
Compared to greener foliage of most begonia plants, the Bronze Leaf Begonia does well even in direct sunlight indoors or full sun outdoors.
Therefore, indoors you can choose between an east, west or south facing windows.
And you don’t need to distance the plant away from the window.
It can take direct sunlight for several hours a day without harm to discoloration to its leaves.
That said, if you want to be cautious, you can check on it daily just to see if the leaves are experiencing any changes.
If you notice that one or a couple are getting sunburned, you may want to move the plant back a bit from the southern window.
This should not be a problem with an east or west facing window.
As with other flowering begonias. I don’t recommend low light since you’ll need to move the plant once you see it blooming.
If you happen to be busy or out of town for that time, the lack of light will keep it from producing its usual stunning flowers.
In case you don’t get ample light into your home from the sun, you can always use artificial lights.
The plant responds well to them. So, fluorescent or grow lights can be used to supplement sunlight or on their own.
Outdoors, you can keep the Bronze Leaf Begonia in partial shade or full sun.
The Bronze Leaf Begonia enjoys moderate to warm temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It likewise has no issues with slightly hotter weather as well.
That’s because the plant is native to tropical and subtropical areas.
As such, they do well in a fairly wide range of moderate to warm conditions.
On the other hand, it cannot stand the cold.
This means it is important to keep the plant away from temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time.
Due to its temperature preference, this makes it easily adapt to indoor home environments.
On the other hand, it prefers USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 12 outdoors. These are where you can leave it outside all year round without any issues.
Since November to March in these areas have sunshine and moderate to warm weather, it will be happy there.
But if you live anywhere colder, this will be an issue.
Thus, just because the plant can tolerate full sun does not mean it can be kept outdoors anywhere.
If you live somewhere with cold winters, it is important to either keep it as a houseplant or bring it indoors once the cold weather arrives.
With the latter, how do you this can vary.
If the plant is kept in a pot, them moving is much easier. But make sure to clean and debug the plant before taking it indoors.
But if you grow it in the ground, you’ll need to dig up the plant around mid fall or late fall and pot it up in well-draining soil.
Again, make sure the plant is clean of any pests or diseases before taking it indoors.
If there are any leaf damage or discoloration from the cold weather, prune the affect parts before you bring it indoors.
Once the spring arrives, you can replant the Bronze Leaf Begonia into the ground again.
The Bronze Leaf Begonia enjoys high humidity, and it prefers 60% to 80% if you can give it that.
However, it will likewise be happy with 50% humidity.
I’ve likewise seen one plant that lives in lower humidity do well too.
However, I don’t suggest getting too aggressive with this as you’ll want to monitor it closely initially if you do.
Otherwise, you might see drastic changes in your Bronze Leaf Begonia if you only check on it every 2 weeks or more.
Unfortunately, humidity of 50% is quite high unless you live in the tropics, subtropics or have Mediterranean weather.
It likewise is not a problem if you live near the beach, ocean or a lake.
Otherwise, you may need to increase humidity around the plant to help it out.
You can mist the plant regularly.
Here, be careful as too much misting can leave foliage wet which can lead to fungal infections.
Of course, you can opt to get a humidifier as well.
But if you want something free that’s hands off, you can set up a pebble tray or humidity tray.
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How Often to Water Bronze Leaf Begonia
The Bronze Leaf Begonia needs watering about once a week.
It only requires moderate watering.
But like all plants, how often you’ll end up watering it will vary depending on the time of year. This is less of an issue if you live somewhere with fairly consistently weather 12 months of the year.
But in locations with hot summers and freezing windows, make sure to adjust watering schedule as seasons change.
The worst thing you can do is use a fixed schedule.
This will cause the plant to dry out during the peak of summer and get overwatered during wintertime.
Instead, check the soil.
If you’re growing the Bronze Leaf Begonia in the ground, allow the top layer of soil between waterings.
Overwatering is less of a problem here compared to pots since the moisture can spread further outwards.
But in containers, be it indoors or outdoors, the water you put in the soil has nowhere else to go.
So, I prefer to allow the topi inch of soil or so dry before adding more water.
To easily tell, just stick your finger into the soil and feel the soil at about an inch from the surface. As long as it is wet or moist, don’t water.
Only add water once that level feels completely dry.
Another thing to keep in mind is wetting the leaves.
Since watering directly onto the soil is hard for such a bushy plant like the Bronze Leaf Begonia, make sure to water in the morning.
And keep the plant in a well-lite place with good ventilation or air flow.
This will allow any wet leaves to dry faster.
If you water late in the day with little light, the moisture can stay on the leaves. This can lead to fungal disease.
Bronze Leaf Begonia Potting Soil
The Bronze Leaf Begonia needs well-draining soil that is high in organic matter.
Here, it is much easier to control the soil if you keep the plant in a pot, planter or raised bed. In the garden, you’ll want to choose a good spot and avoid wet areas where water tends to pool.
Good drainage is important as it helps prevent overwatering.
But since the plant enjoys moist soil, it is also important that the mix you use can hold some liquid.
This is why well-draining soil is important.
You can combine:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part peat
- 1 part peat moss
To achieve this.
Together, they allow the potting mix to hold some water while quickly drainage the excess so the roots don’t end up swimming in too much water.
Just as importantly, make sure to use a pot with drainage.
Holes at the bottom of the pot allow water that drains from the soil to escape. Otherwise, it will just accumulate in the pot keeping the soil wet.
Use an all-purpose fertilizer during the warm months of the year. Spring and summer are when the Bronze Leaf Begonia grow the fastest.
Thus, focus your efforts here.
The plant only needs once a month feeding. This will be sufficient giving it enough nutrients to grow optimally.
Outdoors in the ground, use the full dose of the fertilizer as the product instructions say.
But if you keep it in a container in indoors, the limited amount of soil in the pot and the fact that the fertilizer has nowhere else to spread means you should cut the dose.
Apply only half strength by diluting the fertilizer with water.
This will prevent fertilizer burn.
You don’t need to feed the Bronze Leaf Begonia during winter. But I do know some growers who do. To do this effectively, they scale back frequency to once every 2 months.
The Bronze Leaf Begonia is not a big plant. Although, note that there are big red versions of the Bronze Leaf Begonia which are much larger plants that produce more red blooms.
Additionally, there are also whopper Bronze Leaf Begonias.
These are another dense growing variant.
So, make sure to check the variety of Bronze Leaf Begonia you have. This will affect how big and bushy it gets.
It will also affect how large you’ll a space you’ll need and the eventual pot size you end up with.
The regular Bronze Leaf Begonia will get to about 15 to 20 inches which isn’t huge.
This makes it easy to grow in pots and kept indoors.
As for pruning, they all need some maintenance as they get full and thick.
But you don’t want to prune a lot either since the top portion of the plant will be full of red flowers. This is what makes the plant gorgeous.
And the flowers will dominate most of the size of the Bronze Leaf Begonia.
It does means that you can pinch off flowers that have faded to promote more blooms as well.
How to Propagate Bronze Leaf Begonia
The Bronze Leaf Begonia is commonly propagated from stem cuttings.
As such, you can grow your own new plants at home for free.
However, it is also worth noting that the Bronze Leaf Begonia is quite available in nurseries. This means that if you don’t like propagating, you can just go buy another one.
Of course, if you like me, propagation is always the way to go since you have complete control. Although, you do need to wait for the new plants to root and develop from scratch.
Here’s how to propagate Bronze Leaf Begonia from stem cuttings.
Look for healthy stems with at least 1-2 nodes and have not bloomed yet. You don’t want to get any stems with flowers.
Use a sterile pair of pruning shears and cut just below a node.
From here, you get to decide if you want to propagate in water or in soil.
To propagate in water,
- Place the cuttings in a jar. Keep the nodes submerged but remove any lower leaves that end up wet.
- Keep the jar in a warm, humid space with good lighting but no direct sunlight.
- In about 3-4 weeks you should see root develop.
- Once the rotos reach about 1-2 inches long, you can transfer the cuttings into a pot with well-draining soil mix.
To propagate in soil,
- Prepare a pot and fill it with well-draining soil.
- Plant the stem cuttings into the soil with the nodes buried under the surface.
- Water the soil and keep it moist. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely. But also don’t leave it soggy or wet.
- In about 4 weeks, the roots will develop and begin to get established in the soil.
With soil propagation, you don’t have the move the cutting until it outgrows the pot.
How to Repot or Transplant Bronze Leaf Begonia
Repotting is only necessary if you keep the Bronze Leaf Begonia in container.
In this case, it takes about 2 years before the plant needs repotting.
But just use this as a guideline not a strict rule. Instead, check the bottom of the pot once a year or so, preferably early spring.
Spring is the best time to repot.
So, if you notice roots poking out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, it means it is time to repot.
There’s no need to do so if the roots are not coming out yet.
Instead, just let the plant be. It does not like being moved unnecessarily.
Make sure to change the soil as well to keep it fresh.
Outdoors, while you don’t have to repot it, you may need to transplant it if the plant is getting too big for the space.
If there’s enough space for it to keep growing without getting in the way of your other outdoor plants, then don’t move it.
However, it is good practice to add compost to the soil annually or bi-annually.
The same is true for planters or raised beds.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, the plant is toxic. And it is poisonous to people, dogs and cats when consumed.
Therefore, it is a good idea to keep the plant away from young kids and pets.
Indoors, you can position the plant in a spot that they cannot reach.
Outdoors, you can place it in a part of the garden they don’t run around or play in.
Bronze Leaf Begonia Problems & Troubleshooting
Slugs are a common problem for the Bronze Leaf Begonia.
These are snail-like creatures without the hard shell. So, they’re pretty much the same.
The most common way to get rid of slugs if they bother your Bronze Leaf Begonia, is to set up beer traps.
These pests like beer and are attracted to it.
Root rot and powdery mildew are usually the main culprits when it comes to disease issues for this plant.
Root rot is serious and deadly.
Therefore, it is very important to avoid this at all costs.
Meanwhile powdery mildew is not as dangerous. But it causes your Bronze Leaf Begonia to turn ugly at the later of fluffy mildew will cover the plant.
Therefore, to avoid root rot, don’t overwater the plant specifically the soil. Mildew is often caused by wet leaves that stay wet or have stagnant moisture.