Begonia maculata (Polka dot begonia) care

Today we bring to this blog a truly special houseplant. It is a species of the genus of Begonias, Begonia maculata . Its leaves dotted with polka dots are a display of nature’s design. Let’s see their care.


We have already talked about the extensiveness of the Begonias genre and its classification. It is an endless genre. First of all, because there are different types of begonias classified by their root shape :

  • Rhizomatous
  • Tuberous
  • Fascinated.

Read more >> Classification of Begonias and general care

This genus of more than 1600 species is native to the tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, America and Africa. At the time of their discovery and classification they were already scattered throughout the world.

The Begonia maculata in particular is native to the tropical region of Brazil . From this phrase you can already imagine the type of care it requires.


The appeal of this particular Begonia is the leaves. There are many beautiful flower begonias, with really impressive flowers, but this is not the case with this species. The blooms are small clusters with small white flowers with a yellow center. They help to dress the plant in its flowering moment, but the leaf is the real “show” .

The arrangement of the blade, its shape and its white mottling give the impression that they were designed by computer and were not the product of evolution. They are very shocking. The leaves are placed upright in the shape of angel wings or speckled butterflies.

They are evergreen and can reach heights of up to one meter but it is better to limit growth with pruning to achieve more foliage and density. They grow relatively fast.



Taking into account its tropical origin, any interior environment is conducive to its development. Stable temperatures between 18 and 30ºC are ideal for this species.

It is even tolerant to temperatures somewhat higher than 30ºC. According to its USDA hardness classification, it is in zone 10, which means that it cannot withstand temperatures below 2-4ºC .

Although it needs good doses of light, it cannot be direct . Think that their natural habitat is tropical forests. They always have light filtered through the trees. At home, the curtains will act as a screen.

Although it can survive in semi-shady places, the condition of the leaves must be closely monitored. If they lose color or yellow, they need more light.

Substrate and fertilization

In this case we will have to go to a draining substrate with the help of perlite ; a very light, porous type of volcanic mineral that helps retain some moisture and does not puddle the substrate.

Although we need some retention, we must avoid vermiculite. It retains too much moisture and we can incur root rot .

We can add this pearlite to a universal light substrate.

Untreated natural wood chips can also be added to help aerate the substrate. In the end they will end up decomposing but there is no need to worry because before this happens surely the Begonia will have to be transplanted.

To help growth it can be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer (NPK 20-20-20). It is not a very nutrient hungry plant so it is advisable to use a slightly lower dose than recommended by the manufacturer.


We said about the wood chips because Begonia maculata requires practically an annual transplant for several reasons:

  • They prefer small pots that will inevitably run out sooner.
  • They have a very dense root system and end up needing aeration.
  • We prevent the soil from becoming too compacted, losing that drainage capacity.

We must remove as much soil as possible from its tangled roots and renew the substrate , with more perlite, chips or other elements that can provide air and drainage.

You can even use the same pot. It is not necessary to increase the size if the transplant is annual. There will come a time when it will not hurt to choose a slightly larger container.


It is made by cutting a stem. We can immerse it in water like potos until it emits roots, or directly in the ground ensuring good watering and high lighting conditions. In a few weeks we will have another fully rooted plant.


Based on the fact that we have prepared the substrate with the previous tips, irrigation will be easier. Otherwise, maintaining some humidity without flooding is not an easy task.

The root system of the Polka Dot Begonia requires more or less constant humidity but it is not a fern, be careful. A common recommendation is to let the substrate surface dry completely. At 2 centimeters from the surface it is quite possible that the substrate still holds moisture.

What you should not let is the substrate to dry completely. It causes stress to the plant and it wilts easily.

On the other hand, we cannot have the substrate constantly wet either . This will cause root rot and the appearance of fungi and pests.

When watering, avoid wetting the leaves.


Along with irrigation, this point is crucial. There must be ambient humidity . The houses are usually dry and more in winter with heating. Then what do we do?

  • We cannot pulverize the leaves . Begonia will get sick.
  • Bottom trays with water and expanded clay pellets help.
  • A humidifier is a very interesting solution for these types of plants and even for you. Very dry environments are not highly recommended.
  • Innovative Top Fan Design – The only and the first humidifier with an effective resolution to completely prevent your desk or floor from getting humid. An electric fan can lift the mist up to 1.5m and make it more homogeneous throughout the room.
  • 4.5 liter Top Fill tank: remove the lid and fill the tank from above. The 4.5L tank allows 30 hours of work in medium to high fog. The MH900 Ultrasonic Humidifier is also perfect for babies and plants. It can be used in children’s rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, flower rooms or in the office.
  • Auto Power Off and Timer – Don’t worry about safety. This humidifier senses the water level and automatically shuts off when the water runs out. The timer can be activated and you can set the operating time from 1 to 8 hours.
  • Intelligent humidity regulation and essential oil tray: The built-in hygrometer records the humidity of the air and turns off the device, while the humidity reaches what you have set, and it turns on under the set air humidity. At the bottom of the device there is an essential oil tray in which you can fill your favorite essential oils (Tips: do not put directly into the water tank).
  • Cleaning alarm: as regulated and recommended, the humidifier must contain an alert alarm that reminds you to clean the tank every 72 hours. Choose Nulaxy Clean Alarm Humidifier for your best health.


It is a plant that will tend to glean the stems a lot in search of light, leaving them bare in their lower parts. This in the end makes the whole look somewhat rickety, without density.

  • The apical clamping technique is essential to favor the emission of shoots in the lower areas of the stem. It consists of cutting the stem half a centimeter above a leaf. This will cause another sprout under the cut.
  • This has to be done once or twice a year to get the plant to grow lush.

Begonia maculata outdoors. Photo from:


Cryptogamic diseases will come from the hand of an imbalance in irrigation or environmental humidity. If they appear, it will be a symptom of excessive watering most of the time. It may appear:

  • Mildew : White powdery spots will appear on the surface of the leaves. Remove the affected leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide.
  • Botrytis or gray rot. It will appear if there is excess watering. High humidity on the surface of the substrate.
  • Pythium . This root fungus is very difficult to eradicate if it appears. It must have been a symptom of excessive watering.

In addition, stalk rots may appear due to poor drainage and / or excessive watering. The stem blackens, pushes and becomes soft.

As for pests, the most common are the cottony mealybug and the whitefly. To avoid its appearance, it is necessary to watch the risks. Excess always brings fungi and pests. They can be treated with potassium soap if the incidence is mild. If it is already very widespread, it is difficult to get rid of them.


In case you already have one and you come looking for a solution to a problem, we will give you a diagnosis and solution to the most common problems before telling you about their care.

  • The leaves fall : Environmental dryness or poor drainage of the substrate. Transplant immediately with new substrate and try to ensure higher humidity.
  • The leaves turn yellow : Normally it will be excess watering although it could also be a lack of light.
  • The edges and tips of the leaves turn brown : These could be burns from direct light, excess heat (unlikely in a house) or burns from the use of improper fertilizer or excessive dosage.

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