Begonias are delightful beautiful little plants that add a lot of character to a garden. Getting begonias to grow indoors is actually easier than one would think. While they’re often associated with outdoor gardens, begonias thrive equally well when cultivated indoors. Let’s not waste time and bring the beautiful begonia inside and marvel at their colorful blooms!
Guidelines for Cultivating Indoor Begonias
When it comes to indoor plants, begonias are up there when it comes to ease of care and cheerful countenance. If you’re excited about growing begonias inside your home, then don’t worry. We’ve got the goods on growing begonias, so let’s get right to it!
Select the Right Begonia Variety
When selecting a begonia variety for indoor cultivation, consider plant factors, such as growth habit, size, flower color, foliage type, and care requirements. Some great indoor begonias are fibrous begonias, rhizomatous begonias, rex begonias, and tuberous begonias. Let’s quickly go through each variety’s key characteristics.
Fibrous begonias are perfect companions for indoor gardens as their compact growth habit makes them fantastic choices for limited spaces. They have the ability to withstand higher temperatures, setting them apart from other begonia varieties.
They can also flourish in moderate light conditions, ideal for indoor environments where direct sunlight may be scarce. We recommend checking out “Dragon Wing Begonia”, “Pink Bronze Leaf Wax Begonia”, “Charm Pink Wax Leaf Begonia”, and “Torch Angel Wing Begonia”.
If beautiful foliage and colorful flowers are your goals, then rex begonias are for you. With an array of intricate patterns, vibrant hues, and fascinating leaf shapes, they thrive best when given bright, indirect light.
Creating a slightly humid atmosphere works wonders for their well-being, so consider using a tray with water and pebbles or giving their leaves a delicate misting. “Escargot”, “Salsa”, and “Fireworks” are just some of the most interesting cultivars there are for this variety.
Rhizomatous begonias are also known for their interesting leaf shapes, colors, and patterns. They grow from thick, creeping rhizomes and have a more trailing growth habit.
Rhizomatous begonias prefer bright, indirect light and can tolerate lower light levels better than some other begonia types. Give them well-draining soil and moderate watering, and you can bet “Raindance Rex Begonia”, “Red Heart Rex Begonia”, and “Purple Rain Rex Begonia” will be happy!
While tuberous begonias and cane begonias can be grown indoors, they often require more specific care and conditions. Tuberous begonias, for example, have specific temperature requirements and need a period of dormancy.
On the other hand, cane begonias tend to grow larger and may require more space and light. However, if you have ample space and the appropriate conditions, these two varieties can also be grown successfully indoors. Ultimately, the best begonia variety for indoor cultivation depends on factors, such as the available space, lighting conditions, and personal preferences.
Place Begonias in Ideal Soil and Containers
Begonias need good homes too, so finding pots that are ideal for their growing requirements is a must. First, you’ll need to pick a pot that is appropriate for the size of your begonia. Choose a pot that allows for some room for root growth but isn’t excessively large. The general rule of thumb is to choose a container that is 2-3” larger than the root ball of your plant.
Ensure that the pot has drainage holes at the bottom as proper drainage is crucial to prevent waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot. Excess water should be able to freely drain out of the pot.
Now, when it comes to soil, begonias can be quite picky as they don’t like to sit in overly wet substrates. Look for a well-draining soil mix that allows enough water to pass through while keeping enough moisture. You can use a commercial potting soil mix that’s specifically made for indoor plants or for African violets. These mixes typically are made from a blend of peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and other ingredients that promote good drainage.
But, if you prefer to make your own soil mix, combine equal amounts of perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss. This mixture provides good aeration, retains moisture without becoming waterlogged, and allows excess water to drain away effectively.
Begonias thrive when they are grown in soil with abundant organic matter, such as well-rotted compost or leaf mold. Plus, organic matter can improve the overall structure and fertility of the soil, helping with water retention and nutrient availability. Coco coir to the soil mix can also enhance its water-holding capacity without compromising drainage. You can also use a homemade compost which is a cheap and easy way to add nutrients to your soil.
We always recommend that before watering, check the moisture level of the soil. To do this, insert your finger into the soil about an inch deep near the base of the plant. If the soil feels dry, you need to water the soil. If it still feels a bit moist, you can wait a bit longer before watering.
When you’ve determined that it’s time to water, thoroughly soak the soil by pouring water onto the surface until you see it coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This ensures that water reaches the entire root ball and helps prevent the accumulation of salts and minerals in the soil.
Begonias prefer moist soil but hate it when they are grown in excessively wet or waterlogged conditions. This is why it’s so important to ensure proper drainage so that the roots don’t sit in water, which can lead to root rot and other issues. After watering, allow any excess water to drain completely from the pot, and discard the drained water from the saucer or tray.
The frequency of watering depends on various factors, including the type of begonia, the size of the pot, the room temperature, and humidity levels. This is why we suggest watering your begonias only when the top-inch soil feels dry.
During the active growing season, typically spring and summer, begonias may require more frequent watering due to increased growth and evaporation. In contrast, during winter or dormancy periods when growth slows down, you can reduce watering and allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
begonias prefer water at room temperature, as cold water can shock the roots. If possible, allow tap water to sit for a few hours before watering, so it reaches room temperature. Alternatively, you can use collected rainwater or filtered water if your tap water is heavily chlorinated.
Provide Indoor Begonias with Adequate Light
Begonias prefer bright light but not direct sunlight, whether indoors or outdoors, as direct sunlight can scorch their leaves. To keep your begonias perfectly lighted, place them near windows that receive filtered or indirect lighting. If you have a south or west-facing window, you may need to filter the light with sheer curtains or blinds to prevent excessive sun exposure.
On the other hand, if you don’t have access to a window with sufficient light or if the natural light in your home is limited, you can supplement it with artificial lighting. Grow lights can be used to provide the necessary light intensity and spectrum for begonias. We recommend placing them about six to twelve inches above the plants for about 12 to 16 hours per day.
Monitor your plants regularly, especially if you notice leggy growth, smaller leaves, or stretching toward the light source, as it may indicate insufficient light. On the other hand, if the leaves turn yellow or develop brown spots, it could be a sign of excessive light. Adjust the placement of your begonias or the intensity of lighting as you see fit.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
Begonias generally prefer temperatures between 65 to 75 F during the day, so avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures, drafts, or sudden temperature changes, as these can stress the plants. If possible, keep the begonias away from heating or cooling vents, as direct airflow can affect their growth. During the night, provide slightly cooler temperatures, around 60 to 70 F.
Since begonias are native to tropical regions, they appreciate higher humidity levels. Go for humidity levels around 50 to 60 percent for optimal growth. If you live in a particularly dry area, you can increase humidity by grouping plants together, misting, placing water-filled pebble trays, or using humidifiers to increase the air moisture content.
Fertilize Begonias Regularly
When it comes to feeding your begonias, we recommend giving them organic fertilizers on a regular schedule. This means you can begin fertilizing your begonias in early spring when they start actively growing. Continue fertilizing throughout the growing season, usually until late summer or early fall.
During the dormant period, if applicable, suspend fertilization until new growth resumes. We suggest using organic fertilizers, such as compost, compost tea, fish emulsion, or seaweed extract, but you can supplement with inorganic ones sold in many home gardens.
Make sure to pick a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer specifically formulated for houseplants or flowering plants. Look for a fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio of around 20-20-20 or 10-10-10, as these ratios indicate equal proportions of these essential nutrients.
When using inorganic fertilizers, follow the package instructions when it comes to dilution strength and frequency. It’s better to under-fertilize than to over-fertilize, as too much can lead to salt buildup that can damage plant root systems.
Water your begonias thoroughly before applying fertilizer to prevent potential root burn. Watering beforehand also helps your plants absorb the nutrients better.
Prune and Pinch Back Begonias Regularly
These maintenance hacks will keep your begonias bushy and compact and lessen the threat of them going spindly or leggy. Think of these as regular haircuts for your plant.
As your begonia grows, you can prune it to maintain a desired shape or control its size. Pruning can be done throughout the year as needed. Identify the stems or branches that are growing in an undesirable direction or are getting too long. Using sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors, make clean cuts just above a leaf node or junction to encourage new growth.
Pruning also helps you take off any yellowing or diseased parts. At the same time, you provide enough airflow to keep pests and fungal diseases from forming. Normally, we recommend pruning during the active growing season only.
Pinching back refers to the act of removing the growing tips of the begonia plant. This encourages lateral branching and prevents the plant from becoming leggy or spindly. When the begonia stems have grown to about four to six inches in length, pinch off the top quarter to half an inch, using your fingers or sharp, clean pruning shears.
Remember, when pruning or pinching back your begonias, always make sure you’re working with clean tools and hands. You can use rubbing alcohol or diluted bleach solutions to sterilize, limiting the risks of transmitting any pathogens from one plant to another.
Monitor Indoor Begonias for Pests and Diseases
You don’t want any growing issues for your begonias, so look for any visible pests like aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, or spider mites. Check the leaves, stems, and flowers for discoloration, spots, holes, or any unusual growth.
If you find a plant that is heavily infested or shows signs of disease, isolate it from other plants to prevent the problem from spreading. Place the affected plant in a separate area until the issue is resolved.
If you’re dealing with small infestations of pests like aphids or mealybugs, you can manually remove them using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or by spraying them off with a strong jet of water. Be thorough and make sure to target both the pests and their eggs.
When it comes to larger infestations or persistent pests, consider using organic pest control methods. Options include insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oils. Follow the instructions on the product labels for proper application and dosage, including patch testing.
Check out our full guide to indoors pests for more details on identifying and removing pests in your garden.
Plant diseases can be tricky. If your begonias develop diseases, such as powdery mildew or leaf spot, it’s important to act promptly. Remove any infected plant parts, as well as fallen leaves or debris around the plant.
Ensure good air circulation around the plants by spacing them adequately. Fungicidal sprays may be necessary for severe infections, and you can consult with your local garden center or extension service for appropriate products.
Our tip for reducing the risks of pests and diseases is to keep your begonias healthy. Healthy plants are more resistant to pests and diseases. This means providing adequate light, optimal temperature and humidity, correct watering, and regular fertilization as healthy plants are better equipped to fight off pests and recover from diseases.
How to Grow Begonias Indoors
Bringing in begonias as indoor plants is as simple as selecting the right cultivars and placing them under ideal growing conditions. With all that we’ve covered in this article, we’re sure you’ll be enjoying the beautiful blooms of your beloved begonias in no time!