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Begonia Rex | The King Begonia | A Showy Foliage Houseplant

Begonia Rex foliage - not easy as houseplant

Arguably the finest and showiest of all indoor plants, for those who master the art of growing Begonia rex!

It is not the easiest of plants to grow long term, but the information below will get you well on the way to those spectacular leaf markings and colours.

There are many different varieties of Begonia rex, and most are sold without specific labels depending upon the foliage colours to do the selling. There is often a good display of the different foliage types in most good florists or garden centres. DO NOT buy one that has been displayed outdoors or from open air markets.

The Plant: Begonia Rex is usually grown for its elegant, showy leaves, which are large and have a variety of colour combinations. The red leaf stems are brittle, and the leaves damage easily if knocked accidentally, or caught by a strong draught/flapping curtain.

Begonia Rex 'Fireworks' © David Hughes 2008

Care of Begonia rex plants.

Its needs: Begonia Rex enjoys a position with good light, but not in direct sun or deep shade. Rich but open potting mix, kept moist during growing season.

Care: Regular dilute feed with a foliage specific-fertiliser. Humidity is essential to prevent leaves from drying out, but avoid watering leaves, which could promote mildew growth or various disfiguring leaf spots.

Comprehensive Guide to Taking Care of Begonia Rex Plants


Begonia rex, also known as the King Begonia, is prized for its stunning foliage. The leaves come in a variety of shapes, colors, and textures, making it an attractive addition to any indoor garden.

Optimal Lighting Conditions

Begonia rex thrives in bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can cause the vibrant leaf colors to fade and may even scorch the leaves. Too little light, on the other hand, can cause the plant to become leggy.

Ideal Temperature Range

These plants prefer a temperature range of 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C). They do not tolerate frost or extreme cold well, so it's advisable to keep them in a room with stable temperature.

Watering and Fertilizer Schedule

Begonia rex likes evenly moist soil but is susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Water your plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. During the growing season (spring and summer), feed your Begonia rex every two weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. Reduce watering and feeding during the dormant winter months.

Pest Management

Begonia rex can be prone to common houseplant pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. Regular inspection and early intervention can help prevent infestations. If pests are detected, treat the plant with a gentle insecticidal soap or neem oil solution.

Pruning and Propagation

Regularly prune your Begonia rex to maintain its shape and size. Remove any dead or dying leaves to encourage new growth.

Propagate Begonia rex using leaf cuttings. Take a healthy leaf, cut it into sections ensuring each piece has a vein, then plant them vein-side down in a potting mix. Keep the soil moist and the cuttings should root within a few weeks.

Growing Begonia Rex from Seed: A Step-by-Step Guide


Begonia Rex, known for its vibrant and textured foliage, is a beloved houseplant that can be grown from seed with patience and care. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

  1. Step 1: Prepare Your Soil Mix

    Begonia Rex prefers a well-draining soil mix. A good choice is a mix of equal parts peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. This combination ensures good drainage while retaining enough moisture for the plant.

  2. Step 2: Plant the Seeds

    Begonia seeds are tiny, so no need to bury them deep in the soil. Simply sprinkle the seeds on top of your prepared soil mix in a shallow tray or pot.

  3. Step 3: Create a Humid Environment

    To help the seeds germinate, cover the tray or pot with a clear plastic dome or bag to create a mini greenhouse. This will maintain the high humidity levels that Begonia Rex seeds need to germinate.

  4. Step 4: Provide Light and Heat

    Place your tray or pot in a location with bright, indirect light. The temperature should be kept at around 70-75°F (21-24°C) for optimal germination.

  5. Step 5: Watering

    Mist the soil lightly whenever it begins to dry out. It's important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

  6. Step 6: Germination and Seedling Care

    With proper care, seeds should begin to germinate within two weeks. Once they have sprouted, continue to keep the soil moist and provide bright, indirect light.

  7. Step 7: Transplanting

    Once the seedlings have at least two sets of true leaves, they can be carefully transplanted into individual pots with the same soil mix.


Begonia Rex can also be propagated from leaf cuttings. Cut a healthy leaf into sections, ensuring each piece has a vein. Plant these pieces vein-side down in your soil mix.

Disease Prevention

Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common disease in Begonias. Ensure your pot has good drainage and avoid letting the plant sit in water. Fungal diseases can be prevented by ensuring good air circulation around the plant.

Additional Tips

Begonia Rex enjoys high humidity. If your climate is dry, consider using a room humidifier or placing the plant on a tray of pebbles filled with water. Feed your Begonia Rex every two weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Reduce feeding in fall and winter.

Growing Begonia Rex from seed requires patience, but the reward of beautiful foliage is worth the effort. Happy planting!

Propagating Begonia Rex from Leaf Cuttings: A Step-by-Step Guide


Begonia Rex, with its beautiful and varied foliage, is an excellent candidate for propagation through leaf cuttings. This method is efficient, cost-effective, and allows you to multiply your collection without purchasing new plants.

Equipment Needed
  • A healthy Begonia Rex plant
  • A sharp, clean knife or pair of scissors
  • A small pot or container
  • A well-draining potting mix
  • Plastic bag or plastic wrap
  • A spray bottle for watering
Step-by-Step Instructions
  1. Step 1: Select a Healthy Leaf

    Choose a healthy, mature leaf from your Begonia Rex plant. The leaf should be free of any signs of disease or pest infestation.

  2. Step 2: Cut the Leaf

    Using your sterilized knife or scissors, cut the leaf away from the plant at the base of its stem.

  3. Step 3: Prepare the Leaf

    Cut the leaf into sections, making sure each section has a main vein. The vein is essential as it's where new roots will form.

  4. Step 4: Prepare the Pot and Soil

    Fill your pot or container with a well-draining potting mix. Begonia Rex prefers a mixture of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite in equal parts.

  5. Step 5: Plant the Leaf Cuttings

    Place the leaf sections on top of the soil with the vein side facing down. Press them gently into the soil, but do not completely bury them.

  6. Step 6: Create a Humid Environment

    Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag or wrap it with plastic wrap. This creates a mini greenhouse effect, maintaining high humidity levels that Begonia Rex cuttings need to root.

  7. Step 7: Place in Ideal Environment

    Keep the pot in a warm place (around 70°F or 21°C) with bright, indirect light.

  8. Step 8: Monitor and Maintain

    Monitor the cuttings regularly. Use a spray bottle to keep the soil lightly moist, but be careful not to overwater as this can lead to rot.

Troubleshooting Tips
  • No Root Development: If after 4-6 weeks there's no sign of root development, check the moisture and light levels. The soil should be consistently moist, and the cuttings should receive bright but indirect light.
  • Leaf Cuttings Wilt or Turn Yellow: This could be a sign of overwatering. Ensure your potting mix is well-draining and avoid letting the cuttings sit in waterlogged soil.

Propagating Begonia Rex from leaf cuttings can be a rewarding project for both beginner and experienced gardeners. With patience and proper care, you'll soon have new Begonia Rex plants to enjoy or share with friends. Happy propagating!

Common Difficulties & Solutions
  • Leaf Curl: This can be a sign of underwatering or low humidity. Ensure your plant's soil is evenly moist and consider using a pebble tray or humidifier to increase humidity.
  • Leggy Growth: This often indicates insufficient light. Move your plant to a brighter location but avoid direct sunlight.
  • Brown Leaf Edges: This could be due to over-fertilizing or salt build-up in the soil. Flush the soil with water to remove excess salts and reduce fertilization.

Please note that I am unable to provide photos or videos in this format. However, numerous resources online offer visual aids for these instructions.

Caring for a Begonia rex requires a bit of attention, but the stunning foliage makes it all worth it. Happy gardening!

Problems with Begonia rex

Powdery mildew is sometimes a problem with the foliage. This is best prevented by keeping in a well ventilated but not draughty position.

Leaf spots sometimes large are normally as a result of water splashes, or direct bright sunshine.

Foliage collapse is basically a watering problem or feeding when the compost is dry. Over-watering usually results in lack-lustre foliage followed by total collapse of the plant.

The stems especially lower down can be subject to grey mould. Avoid drenching the base of the plant, and regularly remove faded leave.

Propagating Begonia rex.

Mixed seed can be bought and normally provides a wide range of colours, but difficult to keep young plants unless grown under glass.

The best way to obtain a clone of a favourite plant is either by leaf cuttings, or simply laying a leaf on a bed of compost in a heated propagator, and cutting through several leaf veins. This will induce small plantlets which can then be grown on.

In spring, take leaf cuttings, and/or split rhizomes, (the tough fibrous roots). Powdery mildew may require treatment.

Good for: Growing in shallow containers, excellent colourful foliage plants. If flowers are not your thing, this will brighten a bleak corner. Subtle beauty.


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