Last Updated on September 29, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
The Begonia Maculata plant has the most wonderful common names — The Polka Dot Plant, The Spotted Begonia or The Clown Begonia!
These charming, colorful terms describe the best features of this flowering houseplant — large angel wing-shaped green leaves with polka dots on the top and deep purple-red underneath.
Although a special plant to look at, the Begonia Maculata is a straightforward plant to grow and requires little care.
It is well suited as an indoor houseplant and will grow well in bright indirect light or shaded direct light.
Being a perennial plant, if you look after your Maculata correctly, you will be rewarded with a beautiful, exotic-looking, healthy plant for several years or morw.
These beautiful, showy, angelic-winged plants attract attention due to their striking appearance and cascading white flowers, although some specimens can also have pale pink flowers.
Native to southeast Brazil, this particular Begonia has been introduced throughout most of South America.
How To Care For A Begonia Maculata
The Begonia Maculata is an evergreen perennial and a member of the cane family. As its native habitat is tropical forests, it will thrive in a warm, humid environment with filtered light.
A fast grower, each plant can reach three or four feet (91 – 121 cm) in height, so make sure that they have enough space to grow in comfortably.
Let’s have a look at what our Bovees community of plant parents have to say on how to care for your Begonia Maculata to ensure a good, long life for your plants!
How To Grow Begonia Maculata Indoors
Begonia Maculata will grow well and thrive indoors as long as they are looked after.
You can expect your Begonia Maculata to live for 2 to 3 years indoors if you provide the correct conditions for the plants to stay healthy and vibrant.
Some plants will come with a plant guide when you buy them from a plant nursery, but they are not always very in-depth so the Bovees team have gone into quite a lot of detail.
Below you’ll find many plant tips to give you the best chance possible in achieving a lovely healthy specimen.
Use The Correct Soil
The Maculata plant will thrive in well-draining soil, so choose an indoor plant potting mix that retains water well but also drains well.
A palm soil mix is a good choice as it retains water and doesn’t compact over time.
A generic house planting soil mix and perhaps the addition of a medium like perlite will work well to ensure well-aerated soil conditions.
They also enjoy an annual soil refreshment, so be sure to invest in some fresh soil every year, it won’t break the bank!
As with all flowering plants, the Begonia Maculata needs a balanced houseplant fertilizer occasionally, to provide energy for it to grow.
For the best results, use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Apply every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing season, which is spring and summer.
During the dormancy period of fall and winter, don’t fertilize at all, as this is when the plant recovers from the past growing season and prepares for the new growing season.
Top Fertilizing Tip: If you don’t want any flowers to grow on your Begonia Maculata, only use a liquid fertilizer once a month.
Being a flowering plant, Begonia maculata flowers will grow if the plant has nutrients to spare.
If you apply fertilizer correctly, your plant will flower during the growing season. Place your plant in indirect sunlight to help it bloom — they are less likely to flower in dim light.
The flowers will die off after a short time, but they should grow and bloom multiple times during the growing season and even when they finish flowering, you still have the joy of the spotty angel wings!
As this plant is a native of the tropics, it does need the correct temperatures to thrive and grow well wherever it is positioned in your house.
Ideal temperatures for the Begonia Maculata are between 65° F and 85° F (18° and 30° C).
Levels of Humidity
The Begonia Maculata needs higher humidity levels than other houseplants.
The requirements for optimal growth are around 90% at night, and 70% during the day. Too much humidity could subject the plants to disease, while too little could cause them to dry out and die.
If you reside in a warm region with a high humidity factor, the moisture in the air should be enough for the plant.
However, if you live in a drier climate, you might have to purchase a small humidifier to meet the plant’s requirements.
There is a selection of special humidifiers for houseplants on the market.
Also, we recommend a digital hygrometer to monitor the humidity.
You could mist the plant daily, but you will have to be consistent with this to keep the plant thriving.
The leaves are susceptible to powdery mildew, which can be caused by high ambient moisture levels, so keep those polka dot leaves dry when you spray water on the plant.
Is Bright Indirect Light Best?
A perfect indoor plant, the maculata begonia can comfortably be exposed to shady sunlight or indirect light so it is the perfect plant to brighten up a dingy corner of the room.
You can position the begonia maculata in any corner that receives some direct sunlight, but make sure that it is not exposed to too much sunlight in the afternoon as they can get sunburnt and dry out!
Light promotes vigorous plant and flower growth, if it starts to look like a bit of a lanky plant with thin stems and only a few flowers, then you know it could do with a bit more light.
The polka dot begonia needs strong stems to reach it’s full potential in terms of the number of blooms it produces.
Proper Watering of The Begonia Maculata
The Begonia maculata wightii will not tolerate soggy soil but does love moist soil.
Be sure to give it a drink of water regularly, at least every four days in the growing season and every 2 to 4 weeks in winter.
Check the soil between watering your begonia maculata, and if it is still damp, wait a while longer, but not until the soil is completely arid.
Only allow the top 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) of soil to dry out between waterings.
Under watering your begonia
If you see dry leaf tips starting to turn brown on your polka dot begonia, then you know you need to change your watering method by either increasing the amount of water or reducing the time a bit between waterings.
Prune your begonias at least twice a year for more bushier growth.
Regular pinching out at the start of the growing season will reward you with an even bushier plant.
Where one stem is pinched, two new stems will grow.
Flowers can be pruned and deadheaded after they have finished blooming.
Propagation From Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings are easy to start rooting in water. Cut a single stem section, 2 or 3 inches long, below the leaf and place it into a jar of water.
You can dip the cut end of the stem into some rooting hormone if desired.
The Bovees consesus of opinion is that it is best to make a cut at about 45°.
Once you see the roots form, place the cutting into loamy soil, or a palm soil mix to encourage the root system to really develop and treat it like a normal plant.
You will soon have a new begonia identical to the one that you took the cutting from.
Taking cuttings will not damage the mother plant and generally it will boost new growth.
However, if the original plant is looking a bit gangly, you can stick in a couple of rooted cuttings around the base to ‘bush’ it out a bit.
It will probably be that you need to repot your polka dot begonia every year. You can do this at the same time as refreshing the soil.
The ideal pot size should only be just slightly larger than the previous size. This will ensure that it doesn’t grow too fast.
You will be able to tell when your begonia needs repotting as the roots will start to grow out of the bottom of the pot.
Potential Pests And Diseases
Basic plant hygiene is usually enough to keep these beautiful plants healthy.
Overwatering, and getting the leaves wet can cause powdery mildew, the botrytis fungus, bacterial leaf spot, and stem and root rot.
A long-spout watring can will help avoid getting the leaves too wet
Treat the plants often with fungicides to maintain healthy leaves and prevent fungi build-up.
Sometimes, the infected plant will recover if you take drastic steps, but the plant might have to be destroyed to prevent the infection or disease from spreading.
Aphids, spider mites, and thrips will stunt the plant’s growth cycle, so get rid of them by spraying nontoxic, ready-to-use insecticidal soaps.
Purchasing New Plants
Before purchasing a new plant, check that it is free from pests and disease as you don’t want to transmit any disease to your existing, healthy plants. Be wary especially of any yellow leaves on the plant.
If you order plants online and receive them in the post then be sure to inspect them thoroughly as soon as you receive them and notify the company immediately if you have any concerns.
Your Begonia Maculata plant is not a fussy grower. It will tolerate a range of light situations, as long as it has shaded lighting with high humidity, a warm environment, and a regular dosage of water, it should thrive wherever you place it.
The plant grows well as an indoor potted plant, and it will provide an array of beautiful colors, flowers, and leaves!
Place the plant in any bright spots, next to your Rex begonia, or high visibility area to wow your guests with your green thumbs! Who are they to know it’s pretty straightforward to take care of plants such as these. 😉
Oh…….. and as a bonus — Begonia maculata is a non-toxic plant, so you’ll have no worries with pets and children.