Begonia Rex: Painted-Leaf Begonia Plant Care

Key Takeaways

  • Rex begonia plant leaves come in various colors that are mixed with pink, silver, grey, and even burgundy, while the outer edges are dark green. They are botanically known as the “King Begonia”, but are also commonly named “Painted Leaf Begonia” or “Painted Begonia”.
  • Painted leaf begonias are slow growers but generally easy to care for:
    • They thrive in high humidity and temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Due to their relatively slower growth, they do not require full sun like other begonias and can thrive with less light all year.
    • Water begonia rex plants when the soil is dry to the touch, but be careful not to overwater – also, do not mist your begonia as this will create sitting water that is a good environment for bacteria to grow.

What is a Rex Begonia (Painted-Leaf Begonia)?

Begonia rex is a flowering plant that has colorful foliage and blooms and belongs to the Begoniaceae family.

They are considered rhizomatous type of begonia, which means that their stem spreads horizontally below or across the soil surface.

Rhizomatous plants are also known as as a creeping rootstalk or rootstock plants. The stems that sprouuts out roots or shoots from the nodal points to collect and store nutrients for the plant.

Botanically known as Begonia rex cultorum, according to the American Begonia Society, these plants are also known as “King Begonia.”


Due to the large demand for and cultivation of this plant, the species has now successfully spread around the world and can be easily obtained anywhere.

The Painted Leaf Begonia is a plant in the Begoniaceae family, which is also called the Begonia Rex Cultorum group. It grows best in humid places.

These plants come from tropical and subtropical places like the southern part of China, which is closer to Eastern Asia and Northern India.

Even though these plants are best known as indoor plants, they can absolutely be planted outdoors, especially in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12.

What Does Begonia Rex Look Like?

Begonia rex is a type of flowering plant particularly known for its beautiful leaves, but they do bloom flowers that are pink and red in a five-petal star shape. With the colorful leaves as a background, the flowers look very exotic.

Leaves of the Rex Begonia

Begonia rex leaves can take on a variety of shapes, including hearts, seashell swirls, ivy-like formations, and more. The Rex Begonia is distinguished by its vibrant hues, which are frequently a combination of green, pink, and burgundy but can also include metallic tints of grey silver.

Rex begonias have vibrantly colored flowers in a variety of shades and colors. The edges are dark green, while the inside is pink, silver, gray, or even burgundy.

This is why they are also called “Painted Begonia” and “Painted Leaf Begonia.”

The typical size of the Painted Leaf Begonia’s leaves ranges from 4 to 10 inches (10–25 cm) during their entire growth period.

Begonia Rex Flowers

The average blooming season is between December and February, mainly leaning toward the winter.

As for the flowers, they bloom from begonias and are given the name “cruciform flowers.”

These are mostly seen to be leaning towards the spectrum of light purple to pink in color.

The cruciforms start as perennials; however, with proper care and healthy growth, these perennials are soon transformed into full-grown capsules.

flowers of Begonia Rex stunning in the yardPin

How to Care for a Begonia Rex

To properly care for your Begonia Rex in order to keep it looking its best, understanding how much water and sunlight your plant requires is critical

Watering should be done whenever the topsoil seems dry to the touch; however, over-watering should be avoided as it can lead to root rot and other problems.

Finding bright indirect light or filtered sunlight for your Begonia rex for best growth—too little light will result in leggy plants with few flowers, while too much will cause leaf scorching.

Read further on how to care for Rex begonias so their foliage can flourish in your garden.

Temperature and Humidity

a big Begonia Rex plant standing next to a white curtainPin

The Painted Leaf Begonia grows best in locations that are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and have humidity levels that are greater than 50% relative humidity.

Painted Leaf Begonia plants prefer a warm environment to grow. Therefore, they grow very well indoors or in a greenhouse-type setting. However, if planted outdoors we suggest only planting them in USDA hardiness zones 10-12.

If you live in an arid or dry area, you can increase humidity levels by placing a pebble tray underneath the pot. Alternatively, and as a last resort, some light misting will help.


Begonia rex plants should ideally be placed in bright, indirect sunlight for 4-6 hours every day.

Avoid direct sunlight and cold drafts; too much sunshine can inflict burns on its leaves, and cold drafts can stunt its growth.

The plant will thrive if it is placed near a window that receives morning sun and afternoon shade or filtered light through a sheer curtain or blinds.

While other types of begonias require direct sunlight, painted-leaf begonias can thrive under fluorescent lights or less light all year because they grow relatively slower than other begonias.


Aim to water your Begonia rex plants once a week, but adapt as needed based on your climate and growing conditions. The best way to know when to water Begonia rex plants is to allow the soil to dry between waterings.

Stick your finger approximately an inch into the soil to see if the soil is dry. When it is, then it’s time to water the plant.

When you’ve provided enough water, make sure to drain any excess from the container or tray in which your plant is housed. Obviously, the best way to do this is to plant your Rex begonia in a pot that has a drainage hole.

While Rex begonias thrive in moist soil, be careful not to overwater them; overwatering can cause root rot and other problems.

While they require regular watering, be careful not to water the leaves-this includes not misting them. Excess water will sit on the leaves making it a good environment for bacteria and disease to fester.

Lastly, during the winter months, you might have to cut back on watering. They are dormant during this time and do not need as much water.



Begonia rex plants like well-draining soil but can also retain moisture. These properties make sure that the roots of the Begonia rex plant can get air, which lets them get nutrients from the soil.

To increase drainage of the soil, consider adding soil amendments such as peat moss or perlite before planting a Begonia rex.

We highly suggest that you plant Begonia rex in containers with drainage holes or on raised beds to avoid root rot caused by poor drainage. Allowing excess water to drain away from the plant’s roots can help maintain its health as it grows.


The best kind of fertilizer for Begonia rex plants is one that has equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Slow-release pellets, liquid fertilizer, or a mix of the two can be utilized.

When using slow-release pellets, it is critical to select one that is specifically prepared for Begonia rex plants, as this will guarantee that they get the proper nutrient balance.

After applying these pellets, thoroughly water them to allow them to dissolve and reach the roots. This should be done once a month to keep your plant looking healthy and blossoming with gorgeous flowers all year.

Fertilizing Begonia rex plants is best done during their growing season, which lasts from spring to summer.


The process of propagating Begonia rex plants is accomplished by taking leaf or stem cuttings from the mother plant.

The stem or leaf cuttings should be approximately 1 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cm).

Allow the cuttings to root in a moist growing medium for a period of time.

Afterward, the new plants will be ready to be transplanted into larger pots or directly into the garden at that point.

Begonia rex plants are easy to grow, and they grow new roots in a short amount of time.

The best time to propagate Begonia rex plants is in the spring or summer season.


Begonia rex is vulnerable to a few pests that are easily avoided. Aphids, mealy bugs, scale insects, and spider mites are some of the most common pests.

These pests wreak havoc on the plant by feeding on it.

Aphids, for example, are small insects that feed on the plant’s honeydew.

If you see any of these symptoms on your plant, use insecticidal soap or Neem oil spray to get rid of pests.

Next, once a week, wash the plant’s leaves with a weak solution of mild soap and water.

Finally, continue to provide adequate light, humidity, temperature, and water for a healthy plant.


Begonia rex is susceptible to a variety of diseases, including botrytis, bacterial leaf spot, and powdery mildew.

Botrytis is a fungus that causes blight on begonia flowers and leaves.

Fungicides can be used to control it, but if left untreated, the fungus can kill the plant.

A bacterial infection that causes lesions on the leaves of begonias is known as “bacterial leaf spot.”

If you notice any signs of fungal disease, isolate and quarantine the affected plant.

It is critical to practice good sanitation and cultural care in order to avoid future diseases. Remove any diseased leaves and flowers from the plant and throw them away.

Clean up any fallen leaves or debris around the plant and throw them away, as they can serve as a breeding ground for the fungus.


Is Begonia Rex an Indoor Plant?

It is possible to grow Rex begonia indoors, although it is typically cultivated as an outdoor container plant because it is a semi-tropical perennial. If you do plant Begonia Rex plants indoors, they enjoy cool temperatures, moist soil, and humid conditions. Bright indirect light is ideal for growing Rex begonias. For brief periods of time, some direct sunlight is OK, especially if it comes from an eastern window that receives the morning sun, which is milder.

How much light does Begonia Rex need?

Rex begonias thrive in bright, indirect light throughout the year. The fact that they are not aggressive bloomers means that they can accept less light than other begonias and will flourish when grown under fluorescent or grow lights.

Should I mist my rex begonia?

You can mist Begonia rex plants, but misting is not very helpful for rex begonias and many other houseplants that like high relative humidity. If you want to mist your plants, you need to do it multiple times a day, which is not recommended. Additionally, rex begonias do not tolerate wetness on their leaves. It’s better to have a humidifier or pebble tray to increase the humidity around the plant.

Other Types of Begonias to Consider

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

The Rex begonia is one of the most popular begonias to grow because it has brightly colored leaves and doesn’t need much care.

With that said, there are other types of begonias to grow. For example, cane begonias have tall stems, tuberous begonias are small, compact plants used for bedding, and fibrous begonias are known for their flashy blooms.

Read further for other types of begonias to grow in your garden. 


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