The Elatior Begonia is scientifically known as Begonia x hiemalis. It is a beautiful bushy perennial that is commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions.
The plant is best known for its bright colored flowers which bloom through summer.
In colder areas, the plant is grown as an annual and is typically discarded after it blooms.
As such, if you want to keep your plant longer, it is better off as a houseplant during the winter months.
How do you care for the Elatior Begonia? The plant enjoys warm weather and high humidity. Good lighting is ideal but avoid excess direct light as this is too intense for it.
You can grow the plant indoors or outdoors. Use well-draining soil and allow the top layer of soil dry between waterings.
Elatior Begonia Plant Care
The Elatior Begonia thrives in bright, indirect light indoors. Outdoors, it will grow best in partial shade or semi-shade.
You can likewise keep it in low light. But I don’t suggest doing so. At the least, try to keep it in medium indirect or filtered light indoors.
However, keep it away from direct sunlight.
That’s because it cannot tolerate strong or harsh sun. Similarly, if you decide to use grow lights, make sure to distance the plant enough so the heat of the bulbs don’t scorch its leaves.
Excess light not only can burn the Begonia Elatior’s leaves they can also turn then brown.
Therefore, avoid leaving it in very intense light.
With direct sunlight, the only exceptions are early morning sun before 10:30 a.m. and late afternoon sun after 4:00 p.m.
Both are much gentler compared to the mid-afternoon rays.
The Elatior Begonia can tolerate a fairly wide temperature range specially in the moderate to warm region.
However, its ideal temperature is between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where the plant feeds most comfortable.
Luckily, this is also around the same range that humans like. As such, most homes maintain conditions between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
This makes it easy for the plant to grow indoors.
Note that you still need to be wary about certain areas in your home including air conditioners and open windows where cold drafts can come in.
Similarly, avoid leaving the plant in spaces that experience sudden drops in temperature at night.
While the Begonia Elatior won’t have issues with a 10 degree Fahrenheit or so drop. It does not like fluctuations that are significant.
When it comes to temperature, the most important thing is to avoid the cold.
It has a hard time in temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
This means it is never a good idea to leave the plant outdoors during winter. Otherwise, it will die before the spring arrives.
The only exception to this are in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12 which the plant enjoys. There, the sun shines and the weather stays warm during most of the year.
Winters also only get cool. But they don’t experience front, snow or freezing temperature.
The Elatior Begonia are native to tropical and subtropical regions. This is why it likes high humidity.
And while it does well with humidity between 60% to 90%, I suggest moderating the humidity to 65% to 75%.
The plant does well in this environment.
Just as importantly, it prevents fungal disease from occurring indoors due to excess moisture.
That said, it is also worth noting that the plant can tolerate humidity of 50%. This is somewhat lower which makes it easier to shoot for if your home has dry air.
You can use a humidifier or mist the plant a few times a week.
I prefer to use a humidity tray or pebble tray since these are more hands-off methods. This way you only need to set them up once.
After that, the only maintenance is to refill the tray once the water gets depleted.
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How Often to Water Elatior Begonia
Allow the soil to partially dry between waterings.
This is the best way to know when to water the plant since it does not like being overwatered nor underwatered.
However, of the two, the bigger problem is overwatering since excess moisture can suffocate the roots causing them to die.
When roots rot, you can’t always save the plant.
You have a chance to salvage your Elatior Begonia from root rot if you catch the problem fairly early and only a few to some of the roots have become rotten.
But if all of the roots or almost all the roots have rotted, there is no saving the plant anymore.
On the other hand, the Begonia is better able to recover from underwatering.
Still, you do want to avoid letting the soil completely go dry for long periods of time since the roots can eventually get damaged.
This is why between overwatering and underwatering, it is better to err on the side of dry than wet.
To know exactly when to water the Elatior Begonia, allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry before you add more water.
Never water before this level.
You can use your finger and stick it into the soil to feel how moist it is at that depth.
Also, when watering, soak the root ball and then let it completely drain after. Watering thoroughly is the best way to give the plant a good drink.
But make sure that you let all the excess moisture drain and drip out of the pot’s bottom drainage holes.
Elatior Begonia Potting Soil
The Elatior Begonia grows well in well-draining potting soil. Ideally, keep it in soil with a neutral pH and that’s rich in organic matter.
Good drainage is important because it is prone to watering.
And using well-draining soil allows you to avoid this problem and its consequences.
The reason why well-draining soil works well for this plant is that it also retains some moistures. This ensures that the roots don’t end up too dry or underwatered.
Luckily, it is easy to achieve the kind soil the Begonia Elatior. All you need are a few simple ingredients.
One way is to combine:
- 1 part peat moss
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part vermiculite
If you prefer to use potting soil instead, mix:
- 2 parts potting soil
- 1 part perlite
Both soil mixes work well as they retain some moisture while making sure that there is good drainage.
The Elatior Begonia needs fertilizer if you want it to grow optimally.
Feeding it lets it grow faster, bigger and produce more foliage.
Here, you have a few options.
The most common is to use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month. Apply this during spring and summer.
There’s no need to feed the Begonia Elatior during fall and winter.
If you prefer, you can also go with slow-release fertilizer.
These come in pellet form, so you distribute them evenly on the soil instead of pouring them.
Because the pellets are designed to dissolved at different times, the nutrients are dispersed into the soil at varying durations.
This reduces the amount of one dose and spreads them out instead.
As such, you only need to apply 2 or 3 times a year.
Finally, you can use compost as well.
This is a better option if you don’t want to use commercial fertilizer.
With proper care, the Elatior Begonia will grow beautifully in a pot.
It will be filled with beautiful flowers and green leaves at the bottom. The plant will also grow to about 1 to 1.5 feet all.
Its dense growth makes it beautiful as it will look like a thick bouquet on a pot.
Since the flowers make up most of the top side of the plant, you don’t really need to prune the leaves.
They play a supporting role to the bright, colorful blooms.
That said, do deadhead the flowers. Cut them back to about 2-4 inches.
This spurs new blossoms to grow later on.
How to Propagate Elatior Begonia
The Elatior Begonia can be propagated through stem cuttings, leaf cuttings or seeds.
Seeds are difficult so I don’t recommend them. Not only do they take much longer to grow compared to the other propagation methods, seeds are also harder to succeed with.
You can choose between stem cuttings and leaf cuttings depending on what you prefer or have had better success with.
Stem cuttings will require some stems from the mother plant.
Choose healthy stems that have a few leaves on them. Try to get at least 3-4 inch cuttings to make them easier you work with.
With stem cuttings, you can propagate in water or in soil.
Both methods work really well. So, it is up to preference. Although, more growers prefer water propagation because it allows them to see and monitor how to roots are growing as they happen.
You’re not able to do this with soil propagation since the roots will develop under the potting mix.
To propagate the Elatior Begonia in water,
- Place the stem cuttings in a jar filled with water. Remove any leaves that end up in the liquid as these will rot over time.
- You’ll also need to change the water every 2 or so weeks. Do so before it gets cloudy.
- In about several weeks, the cuttings will develop roots. Wait until the roots reach about 3-4 inches long.
- Then, move them from water and plant into a pot with well-draining soil mix.
To propagate the Begonia Elatior in soil,
- Allow the cuttings to callous for a few hours.
- While waiting, fill a small pot with well-draining potting mix. Then, plant the stem cuttings into the soil mix.
- Keep the soil moist and leave the cuttings in bright, indirect light.
Once the cuttings outgrow their pots, repot them.
Leaf cuttings on the other hand, work similarly to stem cuttings.
Note that leaf cuttings do take longer to propagate. But since the plant has more leaves than stems, it is a better method if you want to grow several new Elatior Begonia at the same time.
With leaf propagation, you have a couple of options as well.
You can use whole leaves or use sections of leaves. Usually, growers will just cut the each leaf into halves. But you can cut them into smaller sections if you want to grow more plants.
The important thing with partial leaf cuttings it so ensure that each cutting has part of the mid vein along with that section.
This is where the new plant will grow start growing from.
Once you have the leaf cuttings, plant them into a pot. When propagating more than one, make sure there’s enough space for the cuttings to grow.
Plant each leaf or partial leaf cutting into the soil by burying part of the leaf into the soil.
Water the soil and keep it moist. Don’t overwater as it can destroy the cuttings before they propagate.
Keep the cuttings in bright indirect light.
In a few weeks, the leaf cuttings will start developing roots.
Just keep taking care of them. And once they outgrow the space or seedling cups, repot to larger ones.
How to Repot or Transplant Elatior Begonia
The Begonia Elatior does not need regular repotting. Instead, let it enjoy its time in the same container for a while.
As with other begonias, the Elatior enjoys being root bound.
Therefore, don’t repot it until it begins to get overcrowded in the pot. You’ll know this by taking a peek at the bottom of the container and checking the drainage holes.
The roots will be poking out from the holes.
Once you see this occur, it is time to move the plant to a larger pot.
When repotting, avoid using a very big container. Just go up one size from the current one. That’s enough space for the plant to keep growing.
An excessively large container will make the soil volume overwhelm the plant’s root system. So, when you water, there will be too much moisture for the roots to handle.
It will also take much longer for more water to drain.
This increases the risk of overwatering.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, the Begonia Elatior is toxic to people and pets. But it only becomes toxic when ingested. Therefore, you can handle and carry the plant without any risk.
Unfortunately, when consumed, the plant can cause inflammation, vomiting and swelling. These are just some of the symptoms.
Elatior Begonia Problems & Troubleshooting
As with other houseplants, the Elatior Begonia can get pests.
But this is not common. So, try to keep the plant healthy as this will prevent pests.
Nevertheless, it means that it is important to check the plant for bugs. These tend to hide and stay on the stems and joints between the stems and petioles.
So, always make sure to check these areas.
This can be tricky given how dense the plant can get. Therefore, you do need to take your time.
Use neem oil or insecticidal soap to treat these pests is they occur.
Excess moisture and overwatering are the biggest things to watch out for here.
The Elatior Begonia is prone to overwatering. So, do not water the plant unless the top few inches of soil has completely dry.
This is the minimum level to wait for.
Also, use well-draining soil and a pot with holes at the bottom to let the excess water escape.
When watering, avowing getting all the leaves and flowers very wet without allowing them dry.
This increases the risk of diseases including powdery mildew and other fungal issues.