How to Care for a Polkadot Begonia Maculata Plant

begonia maculata

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One of the most photogenic houseplants is the Begonia maculata, also known as the Polka dot Begonia.

Definitely not your grandmothers Begonia, the maculata is a real eyecatcher with its large angel wing-shaped leaves patterned with polka dots on top and a deep purple-red on the bottom side.

And do you want to know something great? The Polkadot Begonia maculata is a houseplant that is pretty easy to care for. No need for a green thumb to impress with this houseplant.

polkadot begonia maculata houseplant
Begonia Maculata

Begonia plants come in many varieties and hybrids, in different colors, sizes, and shapes. Without any doubt, the Begonia maculata is one of the prettiest Begonia plants I have ever seen.

The silvery-white polka dots look almost unreal as if they were painted onto the deep olive-green leaves. But trust me, this is nature working its magic.

Polka dot Begonias are part of the so-called cane begonias. Cane begonias have these a-symmetrical angel wing leaves growing on long bamboo-like stems.

The Begonia maculata is a relatively fast grower and makes an excellent indoor houseplant or terrarium plant.

Polka Dot Begonia Indoor Care Tips

begonia maculata houseplant on plantstand

How Much Light does a Begonia maculata need

The Begonia maculata likes bright, indirect sunlight. But it can also grow in lower light situations.

Keep your plant out of direct afternoon sun. If the polka dot begonia gets too much sun, the leaves can burn and dry out.

Tip: If you have to choose between a spot for your Begonia maculata in either full sunlight or somewhere in a darker spot, opt for the low-light spot. This plant has a better chance there.

Watering a Begonia maculata

Water regularly, because the Begonia maculata does not like to stay dry too long. It likes the soil to be somewhat moist.

But watch out for soggy roots, no plant wants those. So do allow the top of the soil to dry out before watering. And let the pot drain completely before putting it back on the saucer or in its cache pot.

In spring and summer, when the Begonia maculata is actively growing, and the temperatures are higher with more light, the plant will need to be watered more often.

They can be a little tricky to water in the winter. Just water less and less often. The Begonia maculata doesn’t go dormant, but it will slow down significantly over the winter.

If you continue your regular watering regime through winter, it will be too much for the plant. Don’t drown your plant with good intentions and too much water.

TIP: Read up on when its time water your plant and all you need to know about how to water houseplants.

Flowering Indoor Polkadot Begonia

Flowers on a Polka Dot Begonia

The Begonia maculata grows large clusters of white flowers on a single flower stem.

Want your indoor polka dot Begonia to bloom?

Fertilize.

Treat your plant to a diluted liquid houseplant fertilizer every two weeks. This will give you bigger leaves and encourage blooms. Don’t fertilize in fall and winter. Let your plant rest.

Remove the flowers when they’re done blooming. This way your plant may flower again.

Prune and Propagate a Begonia maculata

If your Begonia is getting leggy, or you just want to shape it a bit, you can pinch it back.

Pinching and pruning will help create a fuller and more bushy plant. New stems will grow from where you prune.

If your plant grows too tall, the best time to prune and maintain height is in late autumn. This is the end of the active growing season. The plant is done flowering and slows down over winter.

Trim back long stems and help your plant to conserve energy to get through the cold winter. No worries, it will all grow back, plus more when spring comes.

Pinching can be done throughout the active growing season. Use your finger and thumb to ‘pinch’ or remove the small stems that branch off from the main stem. This will encourage the plant to branch out by sprouting two new stems where you pinched the one.

TIP: Don’t prune more than one-third of the size of your plant at one time. Removing too much can cause your plant a lot of stress. And it might not recover from it.

Propagate a Begonia maculata

Begonias are easy to propagate so don’t throw away those pruned off stems!

Each stem is potentially a whole new plant, or a growing piece to place back in with the original plant to make it grow fuller.

Get a stem cutting with at least one or two nodes and place it in water. Have patience, roots will form.

Get all the tips and info about how to successfully propagate your plants in water.

Polkadot leaves on a Begonia Maculata houseplant
Polka Dot leaves on a Begonia Maculata

Begonia maculata Troubleshooting

Why are the leaves of the Begonia maculata turning yellow?

If the leaves of your plant turn yellow and drop, it’s usually a sign of watering too often. The roots need to dry out. So allow the soil some more time before watering again.

Begonia maculata has brown dry leaf tips or drooping stems

Brown and dry leaf tips appear when your plant wants more water. The soil has probably been dry for too long. Give your plant a good watering.

Same when the stems of your Begonia maculata are drooping. They are hanging down because they are thirsty. Give your plant a good drink of water.

Are Begonia maculata Plants Toxic

Sorry to say, but Begonias are toxic to pets, according to the ASPCA. With the most toxic parts being underground.

It is important to note that it is very rare for pets to die from eating plants. They can get sick. It is always important to research and find out what type of plant you are bringing home. Read more on the risks and if you should be worried about toxic plants and pets.

Where to Buy a Polka Dot Begonia maculata

First check your local plant nursery or garden center. Depending on where you live, they might have some beautiful Begonias for sale. And nothing beats hand picking out that special plant yourself.

If you can’t find a Begonia maculata locally, it’s worth to check around online. Occasionally there are Begonia maculatas for sale on Amazon, and I see plant shops sell them on Etsy as well.

polkadot begonia maculata houseplant care guide

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2 Comments

  1. I have a Begonia Maculata , a cutting from my daughter. The flowers are red, not white. I would love to have a white flower one as well. Best source?
    Thank you, your site has been quite informative, answering several questions I had.

    1. Hi Hanne,
      Glad my articles have been of use to you, thank you for your kind words.
      About the Begonia Maculata, I got mine at a local plant nursery. That would be my advice, to go somewhere local, garden center or plant nursery, where you can talk to a salesperson that actually knows a lot about the plants they sell. Ask them if they have the Begonia M. with the white flowers. You could also call in advance to check stock. Hope you find one!
      And now I want one with red flowers. 🙂

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