The rieger begonia is also known as a the elatior begonia. Other names it goes by include veitchii begonia, hiemalis begonia and baardse begonia.
It is a beautiful flowering plant that blooms during the winter. As such, it is perfect for your winter garden.
While relatively small in sizes (12 to 18 inches tall), they come with bright colors including red, yellow and pink. Of course, there’s also the more elegant white ones.
Unfortunately, you’ll often find them thrown away by growers after they’ve bloomed. This is why they’re considered disposable plants. That said, I highly suggest you keep them since you can grow them all year round.
Additionally, they’re quite easy to care for. This makes them perfect if you want small colorful flowers to brighten up your home.
Interestingly, rieger begonias are hybrids that were created in 1883 using a combination of a tuberous begonia and Begonia socotrana.
Rieger Begonia Plant Care
Rieger Begonia Light
Keep your rieger begonia somewhere it receives bright light as long as you keep it way from direct sunlight. Lots of light is important for the plant to produce its beautiful blooms.
The reason for this is they are photoperiodic bloomers. As such, the amount of light they get in 24 hours affects their flowering. This means more or less light per day, depending on where you place it and the times of the year will affect how much they bloom.
As such, the best spots for it varies depending on what month it is. For most of the year, an east facing window’s gentler morning sun is the best. You may need to protect it a little bit from the sun’s rays here. But, it receives enough sunlight without the light or heat being harsh.
In the winter, if you live in a cooler region, the south will probably be better because it gets the most light. And, since wintertime sun is muted it won’t pose as much of a problem. Depending on where you live, you may or may not need to distance it from the window.
Outdoors, the best spot to keep the plant is either in partial sun or partial shade. This gives it anywhere from 2 to 6 hours of sunlight daily (more if possible), without being hit by direct sunlight which will burn its leaves.
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Rieger Begonia Temperature & Humidity
Your rieger begonia does best in moderate temperatures. As such, you want to keep it away from cold or hot conditions. It does best between 60 and 70 degrees.
While that’s a fairly narrow range, it fits right in with what most home climates are. This makes it easy to grow as a houseplant all year round.
Allowing it to stay in colder environments of below 50 degrees for longer periods of time will negatively affect its leaves and flowers making them die off.
On the other hand going above 80 degrees is likewise a bad idea as you’ll see its flowers and buds start dropping.
Because of its climate requirements, you’ll want to keep it indoors unless you live in USDA zones 9 to 11, where you can keep them outside all year round.
Additionally, they also like fresh air. This means it is a good idea to keep them somewhere there is good air circulation. This is less of a problem outdoors unless it is crowded in with other plants.
Indoors, you can use a fan or keep in a room with open doors or windows. However, make sure it doesn’t stay in the way of the airflow which it doesn’t like.
As with other begonias, the rieger begonia thrives in high humidity. This means you may need to increase humidity in the room or home depending on the time of year it is. Wintertime is notorious for dry air. So that can be a problem.
While misting works, you do want to be careful not to spray the leaves. Getting them too wet makes the plant prone to powdery mildew and leaf spot. You likewise want to do this earlier in the day when it is warmer and with most sun. This will let the excess moisture evaporate.
The late afternoons and evenings are no-no’s when it comes to misting.
Rieger Begonia Watering
The rieger begonia likes soil to be slightly moist. But, be careful with adding too much water or watering too often because it can lead to root rot and powdery mildew. Both of which it is susceptible to.
As such, the best way to water your this plant is to allow the soil to dry between waterings. You can check this by sticking your finger down into the soil to a depth of about 1 to 1.5 inches.
If the soil at that level feels dry, it is time to water. If it still feels moist, wait a day or two before testing again.
This is especially important during the winter because the plant is resting and the weather gets cold. As such, water take up and evaporation is much slower than it is during the warmer months.
This means you want to scale back to avoid overwatering.
Rieger begonia like soil that is light, airy and well-draining. You do not want to use heavy soil that will retain too much moisture. This will easily get waterlogged leaving the plant to sit in water for long periods of time.
It likewise grows best In soil that’s slightly acidic to neutral with pH between 6.1 to 7.0.
Since the plant likes soil that’s evenly moist, you can use a combination of peat moss and perlite or sand. The former with allow the medium to hold water long enough for the plant to stay well hydrated. And, the latter two are there to improve drainage.
To get the most blooms, feed your rieger begonia with liquid fertilizer every two weeks diluted to half strength. You can likewise take a weekly approach if you have the time to do so. But, makes sure to cut the concentration to quarter strength.
Only deed it during its growing season. You want to give the plant enough time to rest in the winter so it can recharge for next spring.
Since you’re focusing of flowering, use a 15-30-15 fertilizer. The higher phosphorus concentration will boost blooming to get the most of each growing season.
That said, it is never a good idea to overfeed your begonia. This will lead to a buildup of salt residue in the soil that will damage its roots.
Pruning Rieger Begonia
Again, a lot of the focus here will with your rieger begonia’s flowers. pinching the flowers encourages new ones to open. You also want to cut them back after flowering.
Besides this, the rest is more maintenance work. This including trimming every so often to control growth and keeping the short and thick.
Similarly, you want to remove dead flowers.
Many growers throw away their rieger begonia after the first bloom. That’s because the next ones are not as spectacular. Add to that its fairly short life span. For them, this works because there’s are financial costs involved in running their businesses.
That said, you don’t have to do that because you can actually propagate to produce more plants. The best way to do so is via stem cuttings.
How to Propagate Rieger Begonia from Stem Cuttings
- Take a 4 to 6 inch stem cutting. You want to choose a healthy stems with some leaves.
- Cut off the stem just below the leaf node.
- Place the cutting in a well-draining potting mix. You can use peat and perlite or sand.
- Next, wait for it to root.
- To improve its chances, keep the plant in 70 degree conditions with bright, indirect sunlight. Humidity is likewise essential. If you don’t have a humid area, cove the plant with a plastic bag and poke a few holes for ventilation.
- Soon the plant will start rooting.
- You can then move them to larger pots soon after that or wait a little bit.
- By the next 4 months or so, you should see its first flowers appear.
Rieger Begonia Transplanting & Repotting
Begonias don’t have long lifespans. In general, they live up to 2 to 3 years. As such, repotting shouldn’t be on the top of your to-do list. Although, you may need to do so if the plant outgrows its current pot.
Because the rieger begonia doesn’t mind being a little pot bound, you can leave it in its container for its entire life span.
It is also why may owners would rather propagate their plants instead of repotting them. Then just discarding the parent plant and grow the new one instead.
Whatever you choose, make sure you use a pot that has drainage holes to allow water to escape. And, if you do need and want to repot your rieger begonia make sure to be careful when taking it out since you can damage it roots.
All begonia including the rieger begonia is toxic to people and pets. Their roots are the most poisonous parts of the plant. But, ingesting other pats will still cause side effects like diarrhea, vomiting and mouth burning.
Pests and Diseases
Rieger begonia are susceptible to both pests and disease. Of the two, disease is the bigger problem. But, it is often preventable.
Root rot and mildew are the two biggest threats to your rieger begonia. Both are caused by watering issues. That is, overwatering.
Too much water or allowing the plant to sit in water increases the risk of root rot. If this happens, you want to catch it early. This gives you a chance to save the plant but trimming off the damaged roots and repotting it. Plus, changing your watering routine.
However, if the rot is extensive, you’ll have no choice by the throw the plant away.
Mildew and other fungal problems also come from too much moisture. Because the plant likes humidity, it keep moisture from drying. As such, it is not a good idea to water the plants from overhead where you wet the leaves.
You also want to avoid over spraying them when misting.
Pests are another issues. But, serious infestations are rare. Although, smaller attacks can happen. The most common pests to rieger begonias include mealybugs, scale, aphids and spider mites.
These can cause damage to foliage. As such finding them early and treating them is essential.
You can use insecticidal soap spray or neem oil. Both work.