The variety of begonia grown as a potted houseplant is the cane begonia family. These have long canes for stems and interesting foliage that is often variegated. They produce clusters of bright blooms, adding both the colours of the petals and the green of the foliage to your home. Like many houseplants, cane begonia is a tropical plant, so it thrives in the warmer year-round temperatures found inside. Caring for your potted begonia properly ensures it lives and blooms for many years.
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Things you need
- Peat moss
Use potting mix that is rich in organic matter. Create your own by combining one part peat moss, one part finished compost and one part sand. Top dress the soil with 1 inch of compost once a year to replenish the organic matter in the soil.
Place begonias in a room that is approximately 22.2 degrees Celsius and away from direct sunlight, as too much light scalds the leaves and damages the plant. Place them near a shaded window or one with diffused light.
Allow the soil to dry slightly between watering. Stick your finger into the soil to check moisture. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry, watering until it begins dripping from the bottom drainage holes in the pot.
Fill the drip tray with a layer of pebbles, then add water until it just reaches the top of the pebbles. Set the begonia pot on this tray. The water in the tray provides the needed humidity to the begonia.
Fertilise every four to six weeks with a balanced houseplant feed. Water the plants after fertilisation to flush the excess salt from the soil that the fertiliser releases, as the salt damages the plants.
Tips and warnings
- Remove spent flowers and damaged or yellowing leaves. This keeps the plant looking its best and prevents disease from spreading in the dying material.
- Potted begonia are most often propagated through stem cuttings.
- Mealy bugs are the most common pest affecting potted begonia. Use the proper chemical or organic pesticide if these become an issue.
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