Begonia Maculata, or as it is popularly called the polka dot plant or just polka plant is one of the most gorgeous plants you can grow indoors.
It’s called the polka dot because it has white dots all over its thick and wide dark-green leaves.
Because it’s not a hard plant to take care of if it is done properly, there’s no wonder why this type of begonia is becoming ever so popular.
So let’s not waste much time and see what you’ll need to grow this plant yourself.
How to Care for Begonia Maculata
Because this type of begonia is usually found in hotter climates such as Brazil, South Africa, Eastern Asia, and Central America, you’ll have to make some climate accommodation to grow it.
This is especially true if you live in a colder climate and you’ll maybe even have to get an indoor terrarium with artificial lighting.
That being said, let’s see what does the polka dot begonia need to grow.
Temperature Requirements for Begonia Maculata Care
Bringing in a tropical plant such as begonia is no easy task especially if you live in a colder climate.
Polka dot begonias are quite susceptible to cold weather and can get damaged pretty quickly.
Keep the temperature of about 67-70 °F or 18-22 °C and make sure that you take your begonia indoors during the wintertime.
You can even use a heating mat for your begonia seeds if you think that your begonia won’t be protected from the cold conditions.
Begonia Maculata Sunlight Needs
Sunlight is an important factor for growing polka dot begonia and you want to make sure that your plant gets about 6-10 hours of sunlight per day.
If you are planting your begonia in your garden, this isn’t a problem as you just need to make sure to place it somewhere where it can enjoy the sun the whole day.
Planting it indoors is also not a problem as long as you place the pot near a window and you can also use artificial lights to make for the sunlight exposure.
Polka dot begonia can also grow in shade, however, it is not recommended to place it in shade the whole day as the growth will stagnate.
Humidity Requirements for Begonia Maculata Care
Humidity is also an important factor to consider when growing polka dot begonia as it allows the plant to thrive in hot conditions.
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If you just leave your begonia in the scorching sun, the chances are high that it will wilt in a matter of days.
However, if the humidity is high, then the moisture from the air will help your begonia survive in hot climates and the leaves will soak up the water.
I suggest using a humidifier or place a saucer filled with water next to the pot if you plan to grow your begonia indoors.
If you plan to grow it in your garden, just water your begonia regularly and make sure that no water remains on the leaves as they can develop mildew.
All in all, you need to make sure that your polka dot begonias get the right balance of moisture and heat so that they can thrive.
Begonia Maculata Soil Requirements
When we talk about soil for your begonias, you can’t just use any old potting soil.
You’ll need to make a mixture of:
- Sand – so all the water doesn’t go straight through the roots as they can rot away
- Clay – which brings nutrients to your begonias as well as retains water
- Loamy soil – because it allows the water and air to be distributed around the roots
Of course, there are also pre-mixed soils for begonias on the market, and if you want to use that, it’s perfectly fine but for economic purposes, it’s not bad to make it yourself.
Potting Begonia Maculata
When planting your polka dot begonia, you need to consider the size of the plant.
Usually, the polka dot begonia reaches the height of about 0.83-1ft or 25-30cm and the width of 0.67-1ft or 20-30cm.
So it’s not a big plant even though the leaves can get quite wide and you’ll need a medium-sized pot to grow it.
I would suggest that you first use a small pot when planting the seeds or cuttings and then after the plant reaches about 1/3ft or 10cm, transplant it in a larger pot.
The ideal pot size is 1.3ftx1.3ft or 40cmx40, and the pot should also have good drainage as you don’t any water to remain near the roots.
Begonia Maculata Fertilizer
There are lots of fertilizers marketed for begonias on the market, but I would advise you to use a water-soluble fertilizer for best results.
In the hotter months, you should fertilize your begonia every two weeks and stop fertilizing when the temperature starts to fall.
The best fertilizer for polka dot begonias, in my opinion, is the 10-10-10 fertilizer because it has 10% of each nutrient – nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
This fertilizer will ensure that your begonias receive a well-balanced nutrient dose and will help it grow faster and much healthier.
Watering Begonia Maculata
Because polka dot begonias are quite sensitive to water, you need to take special care when watering them.
When watering your polka dot begonia you need to make sure that the soil is completely dry and newer drench as the roots will rot away.
If you see that your begonia is wilting, don’t panic as it will quickly spring back to life once you water it.
Also, you should make sure to use a watering pot and not sprinklers or spray bottles as you don’t want to get water on the leaves.
Water it once a week during the hotter months depending on how much the soil retains water, and water it once a month during winter.
Care Tips for Polka Dot Begonia
Now that you know what you need to grow your polka dot begonias, I want to talk about some care tips so that your begonias grow to become gorgeous and also healthy.
When You Can, Keep the Begonia Outdoors
Even though keeping your polka dot begonia indoors is perfectly fine, it’s best to keep it outdoors where it can thrive in natural light and fresh air.
Of course, during the wintertime, you should keep your begonia in a grow room or a terrarium where you can manage the temperature and humidity levels.
Because begonias get easily damaged by cold weather, you should bring your begonia inside as soon as it gets below 60 °F or 15 °C.
Also, rain is a huge problem for polka dot begonias as the dew collected on leaves can lead to mildew so if you can, place your polka dot begonia under a canopy.
Beware of the Pests and Mold
Even though begonias are generally pest-free, there are still some insects and even snails who like to nibble on the gorgeous leaves of the polka dot begonia.
Not only that but also mold, mildew, and fungus can develop on the roots and leaves of the polka dot begonia if moisture is being accumulated for a prolonged time.
If you see any changes in the color of the leaves, for example, if they start to fade or you see bite-marks on the leaf-edges, you should immediately apply begonia pesticides and fungicides.
Also, if you want to prevent any damage from pests and mold, you can add a light solution of pesticide and fungicide in your liquid fertilizer and apply it once a month.
Of course, if you’re growing your polka dot begonia indoors, you won’t have to deal with pests and mold so often so it’s unnecessary to use chemicals on your begonias unless you see damage or change in color.
Propagating Polka Dot Plant
Even though you can grow the polka dot begonia from seeds, I recommend growing it from cuttings as it will not only grow faster but also be much healthier if you propagate the right way.
It is best to start propagating during the winter so that your begonia grows big enough to be transplanted in a larger container or your garden during the hotter months.
When you receive your begonia cuttings, you should remove all the leaves so you just end up with a stem.
Then, you simply put the stem in a jar of water and keep it in there until the roots start to form.
After that, you can use a small flower pot filled with the soil mixture I mentioned earlier and wait for it to grow.
It can take about 2-3 months for the polka dot begonia to reach a decent size until it’s ready to be transplanted into a larger pot, so you’ll have to wait maybe even the whole winter.
Of course, you need to take care of the cuttings during this time so don’t water them until the soil is completely dry, don’t use any fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals, and try to give them enough light.
That’s all folks!
I hope that this article was helpful for you to learn how to grow and take care of your polka dot begonias.
If you have any questions or recommendations you want to share with us, please do in the comment section below.
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