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Name in other Languages
- Arabic: بيغونيا
- Armenian: Բեգոնիա
- Czech: begónie
- French: Bégonias
- German: Begonien
- Irish: Beagóinia
- Japanese: ベゴニア
- Portuguese: Begônia
- Turkish: Begonya
Fancy-leafed begonias produce large leaves, to 6 in/15 cm long, dramatically marked with silver, green, pink, and burgundy. They need slightly less light than blooming begonias, and do well when grown under fluorescent lights. Pinching off buds and blossoms helps to maintain large, healthy leaves. To provide the high humidity these begonias crave, cover plants with a plastic tent at night, which works like a humidity chamber.
Fancy-leafed begonias sometimes shed their leaves and become dormant in winter. When this happens, clip off the withered leaves, allow the soil to become almost dry, and enclose the pot in a plastic bag. Keep it at 60°F/16°C until new growth appears, 6 to 10 weeks later.
How to grow Iron cross begonia
Light: Bright indirect light or fluorescent light year-round.
Temperature: Average room temperatures (65–75°F/18–24 cm) year-round.
Fertilizer: From spring through fall, feed every 2 weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. In winter, feed plants monthly unless they are dormant.
Water: Water lightly yet frequently to keep soil constantly moist, but avoid overwatering. Plants need moderate to high humidity, but heavy misting can cause spots to form on leaves. Use trays filled with moist pebbles, a humidifier, or a plastic tent instead.
Soil: Use a light-textured, fast-draining medium such as African violet mix.
Repotting: Using shallow pots, repot plants in early spring so the rhizome is barely visible at the soil’s surface. Repot dormant plants as soon as new growth appears.
Longevity: Individual plants grow for 2 to 3 years, but can be kept indefinitely when propagated from stem or leaf cuttings.
Propagation: You can divide rhizomes when repotting, but it’s safest to root medium-sized leaves in early summer; handle these like petiole leaf cuttings see page 302.
Selections: ‘Iron Cross’ begonia (B. masoniana) features apple green leaves marked with dark brown crosses; leaves have a distinctively puckered texture. Leaves of various B. rex and B. boweri hybrids may be spotted, as in varieties with ‘Tiger’ in their name. Other hybrids show flaming variegation patterns in pink, silver, and various shades of green.
Display tips: Young plants are ideal for tank-sized terrariums. Larger plants demand exacting care and high humidity.