Begonia Maculata: Polka Dot Begonia Plant Care

Begonia maculata is a beautiful flowering perennial that belongs to the family of Begonia species.

The scientific name of this houseplant is the Begonia Maculata, while most people call it the Polka dot begonia.

The plant earned the name Polka Dot Begonia because of its deep olive-green leaves with white or pale pink dots.

The name is derived from the silvery-white polka dots on its leaves and from the shape of its stem.

So, while Begonia describes the shape of the plant, the word Maculata explains the beauty of the polka dot Begonia.

With a deep red underside, it is by far one of the most beautiful begonias.

a potted Polka Dot Begonia resting on a wooden table

In fact, according to urban legend, Christian Louboutin’s trademark red-heeled shoe was inspired by the plant’s underside.

The evergreen perennials hail from all parts of the world.

You can find these plants in their natural habitat in tropical forests in Asia, Mexico, South Africa, and Central America.

Although the plant needs moisture to grow, too much water may equally be dangerous.

This amongst many other factors makes the cultivation and maintenance of the plant a tedious task requiring care and precision.

Although an indoor plant can be placed outside during Summer make sure you transfer them indoors when the weather starts to cool down.

Though sunlight is a must, reduce the amount of direct sunlight.

The Polka Dot Begonia can be grown in pots, however, it does not grow beyond 5 feet (1.5 meters) in height and its asymmetric leaves spread out to about 8 inches (20 cm).

Unlike many indoor plants, the tropical plant may reach its optimum growth rates in very humid climates and moist soil.

The plant’s thick stems hold up well and you can grow a tall begonia by using a stake next to the plant.

Begonia Maculata is considered a cane begonia. These so-called cane begonias generally grow angel wing-shaped leaves that are asymmetric.

These leaves sprout from long stems that look like bamboo shoots. These thick stems detain some water so they don’t like super wet conditions.

During their growing season in the Summer, these beautiful plants bloom gorgeous flowers.

In indirect light, the cascading white flowers bloom tend to turn pale pink with yellow pigments in the center of the flower.

How to Care for a Begonia Maculata Plant

The process of caring for Maculata Begonia requires care and precision. The following are some simple tips to take good care of your Begonia Maculata.

Temperature and Climate

lovely Begonia Maculata flowers stunning in the sunlight

Begonia Maculata is a tropical plant. The plant grows best in a temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius).

The plant can, however, survive more extreme cold provided that the temperature does not go below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).

Grown outdoors, they are categorized to grow in USDA hardiness zones #10 and #11.

Light

Polka Dot Begonias prefers bright indirect light. In other words, it needs enough light to thrive but not too much.

Simply put the plant in a bright, well-lit room away from direct sun, or as some say bright filtered light.

If you are growing them outdoors, just remember to plant them in an area that gets light but some shade as well.

How to Water Begonia Maculata

gorgeous Begonia Maculata sitting in the garden

Steps to water Begonia Maculata plants are pretty straightforward.

These plants like soil generally moist but not overly wet soil – this does not mean they can tolerate soggy soil.

Begonia Maculata roots are quite thin and delicate, hence are very sensitive to too much water.

So bottom line, don’t let your plant sit in standing water.

A good rule to follow is to make sure the top layer of the soil is still dry before you water. Note, there’s no need the get their leaves wet.

A clear sign that you are overwatering is yellow leaves. Notice this first sign as you’ll want to can prevent your Begonia Maculata from dying from overwatering.

Soil and Repotting

To give your Begonia Maculata a good start is using fresh soil.

A light houseplant potting mix that includes some sand, clay, and loamy soil is a good soil to use.

To prevent any overwatering issues, add a layer of pebbles to the bottom of the pot so that any excess water can drain out.

Lastly, use a pot that has drainage holes.

This beautiful begonia plant gets easily root-bound.

So, once you find that your begonia is root bound, you should repot the plant.

Get a pot that is twice the size of the current pot and use fresh potting soil.

On the topic of pots with drainage holes. We highly suggest this self-watering container as this is what we use for our indoor plants. There’s no need to worry about overwatering and you’ll hopefully prevent root rot.

Unique 10" Self-Watering, Aerating, High Drainage Plant Pot with Deep Saucer (10 Inch,...
  • SELF-WATERING, 2-WEEKS+ DEEP RESERVOIR: No more troublesome wicks that clog...
  • SELF-AERATING, HIGH DRAINAGE, MINIMIZE ROOT ROT: No need to keep poking...
  • WATER FROM THE BOTTOM + NO MORE OVERFLOW: Each planter comes with a clip-on...

Fertilizer

a woman fertilizing Begonia Maculata plant

You should fertilize Maculata Begonia biweekly to boost the quality of leaf growth.

However, pay close attention to the quantity of fertilizer being used.

It’s best if you only use half of the dosage prescribed on the package to prevent overfertilizing your plant.

Propagating Begonia Maculata

Propagating begonias from seedlings requires a lot of patience. We highly recommend propagating by leaf cuttings or stem cuttings.

Propagation from leaf cuttings

To grow new begonia plants from leaf cuttings, simply cut a few leaves from your mother plant.

Take the leaves and lay them flat. With a clean knife, cut them into wedge shape leaving at least 1-inch of the stalk that is connected to the stem.

Make sure each wedge has a vein in it. Each wedge will eventually grow into a new plant.

At this stage, you have two choices. You can stick the leaf-cutting (the wedges) into the soil (or other types of growing medium like peat moss), or propagate leaf cuttings in water.

Leaf Cuttings in Soil

Place the pot of leaf cuttings in a warm and bright location – away from direct sun.

Keep the leaf-cutting moist but don’t overwater them as you don’t want root rot.

New roots should sprout in about 3 to 4 weeks.

After about 6 weeks, you can transplant the new baby plants to a new pot or your outdoor garden.

Leaf Cuttings in Water

Simply take your leaf cuttings and suspend them in water.

Once you notice roots sprouting to about a half-inch, you can transplant them into a new pot.

Propagation from stem cuttings

Begonia Maculata will grow by stem cuttings commonly known as rhizomes.

Rhizomes are the thick and long stems that are span under the soil.

Begin by cutting a piece of the stem (or rhizome). About 1-inch (2 to 3 cm) is all you need.

Place the stem cutting into potting mix or peat moss.

Make sure the soil is moist and not overly wet.

Keep the stem cuttings in a bright and warm area – away from direct sun.

Roots should start to sprout in about 5 to 7 weeks.

You can then transplant them into a new pot after this time.

Best time to propagate Begonia Maculata

The best time to propagate is during the growing season. The growing season is generally the summertime.

This will give the best chance for your new plants to sprout roots and grow into new plants.

Pruning

It is important to prune your plant regularly to produce a fuller and bushier plant.

Spring and Summer are the best periods for pruning. Take out the wilted flowers and leaves with crispy leaf tips.

Pick out overgrown branches a few inches above the bud so that the buds will produce new stems.

If you’re looking for a pair of shears, we highly suggest these super-sharp pruning garden shears. They are not too expensive and they seem to never dull. Plus, they are easy on the hands.

Sale
VIVOSUN 6.5 Inch Gardening Scissors Hand Pruner Pruning Shear with Straight Stainless...
  • Reduce Hand Strain: These micro tip snips are built spring-loaded so that...
  • Ultra Sharp Blades: These quality snips come with stainless steel...
  • Secure, Easy to Lock: These micro tip snips feature a safe and secure...

Disease and Pests

If you expose your begonias to high humidity or if you overwater your plant, it can cause powdery mildew, bacterial leaf spot, botrytis, and worse case is stem and root rot.

FAQ

What is a Begonia Maculata Wightii?

The Begonia Maculata is most commonly known as the Polka Dot Begonia due to its silver-colored, spotted leaves. The difference between the Begonia Maculata Wightii versus a Maculata hybrid is primarily its flowers. The Begonia Maculata Wightii has distinct and stark white flowers, whereas hybrids will not. 

How do you care for Begonia Maculata Houseplants?

The key to a flourishing Begonia Maculata is balance. Make sure the temperature is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius), give it water when the soil is dry, and place (or planting) in an area where there is bright indirect light. In addition, some general houseplant potting soil that drains well will go a long way to caring for your Begonia Maculata.

Is Begonia Maculata hard to care for?

No, caring for the Begonia Maculata is quite simple. As with any plant, provide it with the right temperature, water, potting soil that drains well and your begonia should bloom brightly.

Is the Begonia Maculata rare?

This plant is not rare. In fact, it can be purchased at any local garden center or in any online plant store.

Can you grow Begonia Maculata in water?

Yes, but only when you are propagating them. When you have a leaf cutting or stem cutting you can place it in water when it begins the process of rooting. Once the roots develop, transfer the plant to a pot with some new potting mix. Begonia Maculata is a subtropical plant, so once you have it in the soil you want to make sure you don’t overwater them. If you do, it may cause root rot – which may lead to the yellowing leaves or worse death of your plant.

Is a Begonia Maculata toxic to pets?

Begonia Maculata is mildly toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Symptoms include kidney failure (in grazing animals), vomiting, salivation in cats and dogs. The toxic portion of the plant is the underside of the plant.

Conclusion

The prettiest begonia plants are the Begonia Maculata. This is a beautiful plant and a treasure to any garden.

If you put a little care into this plant this perennial will reward you with beautiful flowers and even striking leaves.

Just remember, keep it at mild temperature, give it some water and keep it out of direct light.

Pay attention to these simple Begonia maculata care tips and you are one step away from growing this great plant. achieving that desired indoor look.

Other Types of Begonias to Consider

There are many types of begonias to think about when choosing a plant for your home or garden.

For example, cane begonias have tall, tuberous begonias are small, compact plants used for bedding or fibrous begonia for their flashy blooms.

Look further for other types of Begonias to grow in your garden. 

References

Show More
  • Xu, Q. et. al. (2011). Transgenic lines of Begonia maculata generated by ectopic expression of PttKN1. Biologia. 66. 251-257. 10.2478/s11756-011-0008-3. URL: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225159444_Transgenic_lines_of_Begonia_maculata_generated_by_ectopic_expression_of_PttKN1
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (n.d.). Begonia. Pet Care Animal Poison Control Toxic and Non-toxic Plants, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). URL: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/begonia
  • About/mentions: Begonia maculata, begonia, flowering plant

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.