Begonias have been grown for decades now and they never seem to go out of style.
However, people forget to take into account if Begonias can be successfully grown indoors and what’s the effort behind it.
In this article, I will tell you if Begonias are actually indoor plants and how you can make caring for them a frustration-free experience.
Are Begonias Considered Indoor Plants:
Although popular as indoor plants, Begonias are actually considered outdoor plants. Most Begonias are grown in the garden or as bedding plants where they typically don’t survive the winter, but they also make great indoor plants that live for multiple years.
Sometimes, growing Begonias indoors can be a challenge. Luckily we’ve compiled all the answers for you:
Brief Introduction To Begonias
Begonias are one of the most popular flowering plants in the world, and rightfully so. They are native to tropical or sub-tropical climates and span from South America to Africa.
Begonias are terrestrial and come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they all have in common is they like warm climates.
Some are grown for their colourful flowers while others, typically indoors, are grown for their leaves.
Are Begonias Toxic?
Begonias do have Soluble calcium oxalates and thus are considered mildly toxic to pets and humans.
Although not as toxic as other plants, the sap of Begonias is irritant and can cause burning and vomiting if ingested.
Are Begonias Annual Or Perennial Plants?
Begonias are perennial plants, however, they are known as tender perennials. Begonias require warm temperatures, so they don’t live longer than one season outdoors because freezing temperatures will kill them.
The term ‘annual’ Begonia is technically incorrect as Begonias are perennials, but they are called annuals in gardening as a matter of practicality.
That’s because very few Begonias are hardy enough to survive cold temperatures.
Are Begonias Succulents?
Some Begonias can be considered succulents, however, they are not thought of as such in popular gardening. Succulents are any plants with fleshy leaves that retain water and encompass more than 25 families.
Begonias are part of the Begoniaceae family and some of its members can be considered succulents, like Wax Begonias, while others can’t be considered succulents.
Begonias belong to one of the most variate flowering plant families in the world. Begonias come in over 2.000 different varieties, all with different shapes and colors.
There are 3 three types of Begonias you need to be aware of:
- Fibrous Begonias (Wax Begonias) – These make good houseplants.
- Rhizomatous Begonias – These usually make the best houseplants.
- Tuberous Begonias – Known as annual Begonias, these require higher humidity and light and are significantly harder to grow as houseplants.
Is Begonia A Good Indoor Plant?
Begonias generally make good houseplants, but they are considered intermediate in terms of maintenance requirements. They aren’t overly complicated but it can be challenging to strike a balance in their needs, especially around watering.
Begonias like damp soil at all times, but if it’s too wet then they are very prone to root rot. On top of that, they like humidity but misting isn’t a good idea because they can develop powdery mildew.
Similarly, some like bright but indirect sunlight while others need more shade.
The secret is really understanding what type of Begonia you have and adjusting.
Another secret is to let your Begonia leaves droop just a little bit before watering. This technique is great to avoid overwatering, at least until you get the hang of it.
However, Begonias have one big advantage over many other houseplants: the endless variety in shapes and colors.
Another big advantage of Begonias is they tend to be very pest resistant compare to other plants.
They can be some of the most attractive looking plants all the while not taking a huge amount of space and being pest resistant.
How Long Do Begonias Live Indoors?
Begonias typically live for 2 to 3 years indoors with some varieties surviving as much as 5 years with very good care. After 2 years, it’s generally recommended to propagate your Begonia, if you wish to keep growing it.
As far as outdoor Begonias, they last only one season as they don’t survive the winter.
That’s why they are called ‘annual’ Begonias, even though they aren’t technically annual plants.
How Fast Do Begonias Grow Indoors?
Begonia growth depends on their variety, but they are generally considered very fast growers. The plant usually triples its size during the first year and then its growth will slow down.
Regardless of variety, you will notice that the majority of Begonia growth happens in the first year.
To encourage Begonias to grow even faster, you can move the plant a bit closer to the indirect light and apply some liquid fertilizer every two weeks in the growing season.
That will really make it explode in volume and achieve bigger blooms.
How Big Do Indoor Begonias Get?
Begonias get 12 to 18 inches big, both in height and width with rich foliage and beautiful flowers. If fertilized and kept in ideal conditions, they will reach their full size faster, but they don’t typically get bigger than 18 inches no matter what you do.
This size makes it ideal for many people and it’s one of the reasons Begonias are so popular to begin with.
They are very pretty and will stand out in any room, all the while not having to sacrifice a huge amount of space for them.
Do Begonias Flower Indoors?
Begonias will happily flower indoors. With proper care, Begonias will bloom for 3-6 months indoors, from late spring to late fall. One important aspect to keep Begonias flowering is to remove flowers that are faded or dead, thus the plant will focus its energy on producing new flowers.
Many plants never flower indoors, but Begonias are famous for flowering very easily.
You will still need to provide the plant with the best conditions in order for it to flower but as a rule of thumb, Begonias flower easily.
The most important part is a consistent watering schedule. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy.
If the soil is dry to the touch but humid if you press firmly against it, then it’s time to water. If the soil is still wet, don’t water as it can lead to root rot.
Keep the plant in bright, indirect sunlight by placing it a few feet away from the window.
If it’s still not blooming, make sure the room is warm enough. Begonias like warm temperatures, ideally in between 65°F and 72°F, but always more than 65°F.
If these conditions are met and the plant is still not blooming, feed the plant a balanced fertilizer every two weeks and remove dead or dying foliage.
These tips work every time.
Do Begonias Like To Be Misted?
No, Begonias should not be misted and do not like it. Although Begonias like high humidity environments, they do not do well with water on their foliage. They are also prone to powdery mildew, so it’s best to simply water the plant’s soil and keep the leaves dry.
Begonias are somehow breaking the rule that all tropical or sub-tropical plants should be misted, and I’ve certainly heard people recommending you mist Begonias, but I advise against it.
If you want to keep your plant in a high humidity environment, Begonias do very well in bathrooms and kitchens providing there is enough light.
Here is a very in-depth article about plant misting that will help you understand the process much better.
Where Should You Put Begonias In Your House?
You should place your Begonias in warm, bright rooms that provide lots of indirect sunlight. Ideally, they also like high humidity environments, so the bathroom or the kitchen work great.
Make sure you keep them away from the air conditioner or drafty windows as they are very susceptible to the cold and drafts.
Usually, people keep Begonias in the main room to have them at full display, but any room will do provided it meets these conditions.
Personally, I keep mine in the kitchen.
How Much Light Do Begonias Need?
As a rule of thumb, Begonias need bright indirect sunlight. Be careful if the plant is kept at the windows as it can burn. Select a room that gets early morning or evening sunlight as it has less intense rays.
Because of the huge variety in Begonias, some of them will have slightly different needs. For example, the famous Rex Begonia likes less sunlight than others.
Regardless, none of them like direct sunlight or dark rooms.
Direct sunlight will scorch them while they won’t grow well or shrivel in dark rooms.
Can You Propagate Begonias Indoors?
Begonias can be easily propagated indoors. The best way to do it is to take a cutting from the stem or even a mature leaf and plant it in the soil. You can also keep it in a glass jar with water until it starts to root and then plant it.
When planting the cutting in the soil, make sure you only plant the first 1-2 inches and keep the soil moist.
If you would rather propagate just in water, fill the jar with around 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water and replenish it as the plant consumes it.
It will take around one month for the first roots to appear.
Propagation is actually common and recommended for Begonias that are older than 2 years because they will soon reach the end of their lifespan.
Propagation is a great way to keep growing the plant generation after generation.
Do Indoor Begonias Require Fertilizer?
Begonias are bred to keep bloom very easily, but even so, using diluted fertilizer is recommended. Fertilize every 2 weeks with one part water and one part liquid fertilizer starting in the spring.
When fertilizing Begonias, less is more.
Always, go with a bit less than what the package recommends. Also, never use full strength fertilizer, dilute it at half strength.
Another common mistake is fertilizing too early. Fertilizing early will force the plant to grow thicker foliage and longer roots, so wait for the first signs of blooming before feeding it.
Can You Repot Indoor Begonias?
You should repot Begonias once the roots fill the container. You can tell when that happens because the plant’s soil starts to dry off much quicker than it used to. Move your Begonia to a pot around one inch wider than the current one.
It’s also safe to pull the plant out of the pot and have a quick look at the roots. If they have started to take the shape of the container, it’s time to move your plant.
Begonias do well in snug pots, where there are no more than 2 inches of space all the way around their roots.
When moving your plant to a new container, use peat moss with perlite mix. It needs a good balance between moisture retention and drainage.
Can Begonias Be Potted Together With Other Indoor Plants?
Begonias are famous flower bed plants, so yes, they can easily be potted together with other plants. The best companion plants for Begonias are usually other Begonias as long as their roots are separated by around 2 inches.
Other plants that make great companions for Begonias are:
- Silver Nickel Vine
- Boston fern and most ferns
This list can go on, the only thing you will need to make sure the other plants have the same light and watering requirements.
Can Indoor Begonias Be Pruned?
Begonias can be safely pruned, but depending on the variety, pruning isn’t usually a requirement they have. Pruning will encourage new growth and help the plant bloom, but it should only be done with dead or dying parts of the plant.
Begonias are already lush looking plants that grow as wide as they grow tall naturally, so pruning is usually reserved for when you want your plant to focus on blooming.
It is not recommended you cut healthy leaves or flowers on a Begonia.
Indoor Begonias Problems (And Solutions)
Let’s look at the most common problems when growing Begonias:
Petals turning brown
Begonia petals turning brown is a sign of improper watering. It usually happens as a result of root rot, which means the plant has been given too much water and the soil has been kept soggy.
To fix it allow for the soil to dry out at first and then decrease the quantity of water you give your plant.
Also, make a rule out of waiting for the soil to feel dry to the touch before watering it.
Flowers turning black
If the flowers are turning black and wilting, it’s either a sign of a fungal infection or of burning through too much fertilizer.
Remove the dead parts of the plant and stop fertilizing it. Also, wait for the soil to dry out before you water it again and make sure it’s getting enough indirect sunlight.
The plant should be able to bounce back in most cases, but if it isn’t your best bet is to find a healthy part and try to propagate it.
Leaves are crispy and cracking
If your Begonia’s leaves are turning crispy or dry, it’s a sign of one thing: direct sunlight. Begonias don’t do well in direct sunlight.
Move your plant to a place where it gets enough indirect light and make sure it has enough water. You can also cut the affected leaves if they crack or if you think they are too far gone.
Leaves are curling
Begonia leaves curling is a sign of underwatering. It could also be a side effect of very hard water from the tap, but as a first attempt make sure your plant is given enough water.
If it is and the problem continues, use distilled water or pre-boiled water. I have a great article about why pre-boiled water is great for plants.
Although considered outdoor plants, Begonias are a great addition to any home.
They are not the easiest plants to grow, but I promise they are worth it once you get the hang of it.