How to Grow and Care for Angel Wing Begonia: A Complete Guide
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Growing an angel wing begonia (Begonia Coccinea) is an excellent way to add some tropical flair to your home. With their large, pointed leaves and vertically-oriented petals, these plants look like they came straight out of a fairy tale. However, growing this plant isn’t quite as simple as it may seem. Angel wing begonias grow best in humid environments with plenty of light. They also need frequent watering and fertilization to thrive and produce flowers.
In this article, we’ll cover how to grow and care for an angel wing begonia so that yours thrives in no time!
What is an Angel Wing Begonia Plant?
Angel wing begonias, or cane begonias, are a tropical flowering plant part that’s believed to have originated from the Caribbean or Amazon area like South America. They’re a relative of the common houseplant begonias, which are often used as indoor plants for their bright, colorful flowers. They are a long-blooming plant, meaning that they flower for several months at a time. Their large, showy blossoms come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, red, orange, purple, and yellow. Angel wing begonias have large, pointed green leaves that grow up and out from their central stem. Begonia leaves are usually dark green with a white underside and feature white polka dots.
Why are they called Angel Wing Begonias?
Angel wing begonias (Begonia coccinea x Begonia aconitifolia) get their name from their leaves, which grow in pairs that are shaped like Angel wings. Botanist Charles Plumier originally discovered the Begonia and named it after Michel Begon, the governor of French Antilles who originally recommended Plumier to become the chosen plant collector for the Carribean to Kin Louis XIV.
Quick Angel Wing Begonia Care Guide
Window Locations (Ideal)
USDA Hardiness Zones
How to Grow Angel Wing Begonia
Make sure that you’re giving your angel wing begonias the conditions they need to thrive. Angel wing begonias are tropical plants that require warm, humid conditions. If you keep them in dry conditions, they will quickly wither and die. Let’s chat through the best way to grow and care for your begonia.
Angel wing begonias are best grown indoors in clay or terracotta pots or hanging baskets. Start growing them at least six to eight weeks before the last expected frost date. Choose a container that is at least eight inches wide and eight inches tall and fill it with well-draining, moisture retaining potting soil designed for indoor plants.
Water your plant until the soil is moist all the way through and place it somewhere where it will get plenty of bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight.
Angel wing begonias can be grown outside, but you will need to overwinter them to protect them from frost and freezing temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They grow best in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11 and prefer humid environments with temperatures between 65*F and 80*F.
They need a lot of sunlight to thrive, so choose a location that gets plenty of indirect light, but avoid direct sunlight.Start growing them at least six to eight weeks before the last expected frost date. When growing them outside, you’ll need to water them more often than you would indoor plants.
How to Care For Angel Wing Begonia
Plant care for angel wing begonias is fairly straightforward once you’ve got them set up in the proper environment. However, these plants do require frequent watering and fertilization to thrive and produce flowers. Make sure that you’re meeting all of their needs so that they can grow and thrive indoors.
Angel wing begonias need frequent watering during their blooming period. You should water them at least once per week, but you may need to water them more often if the weather is dry. Avoid watering them during the hottest parts of the day. Water them deeply to help prevent the roots from becoming too wet. Avoid over-watering your plants, and use a water meter to help prevent this.
Light is a key factor in making sure your Begonia flowers. Make sure they're receiving 4-6 hours of diffused (not direct) bright sunlight a day! Try a South-facing window for best results.
Angel Wing begonias like lots of sunlight but can't tolerate direct sunlight. Indoors, place them in a place that gets a lot of indirect light but isn't in the direct path of the sun. Placing your begonia a few feet away from a north or east-facing window is ideal. Outdoor plants should be placed in a location that is part indirect sunlight and part shade. Balancing the right light requirements will help the begonias bloom.
Temperature and Humidity
Angel wing begonias grow best in warm temperatures between 65-80°F and are best suited for growing indoors, especially during the winter. If you are growing outdoors, avoid exposing them to temperatures below 50°F.
Angel wing begonias are tropical plants and like high humidity environments. You can increase the humidity around the plant by placing it near a humidifier or kitchen vent, watering with a nutrient-rich solution, or placing a plastic bag over the leaves and poking holes in it. If you can't do this, a pebble tray can also increase the humidity. Because Angel Wing Begonias are susceptible to powdery mildew, we don’t recommend misting.
Angel wing begonias prefer moist potting soil that drains well. You can use a mix of peat moss, perlite, and compost, or an African violet soil mix, which is enriched with perlite. You can add water-retaining gel, coco coir, or peat moss to the soil to prevent it from drying out.
Angel wing begonias are heavy feeders and will need to be fertilized regularly. You can apply liquid fertilizer directly to the leaves or mix in slow-release fertilizer before planting. During the growing season, you can apply an organic fertilizer once every two weeks. Avoid overfeeding your plant, as it can cause an abundance of weeds, soil acidity, or alkalinity. You can test the pH level of your soil at home with a kit.
Cutting and Pruning
You can prune your angel wing begonia year-round to control its growth, reshape it, or remove old leaves. The best time to cut the plant is when it is actively growing during spring and summer. Cut the plant with clean shears or a sharp knife, above a set of healthy leaves at an angle so it can regrow easily. You can prune the stems growing above the leaves any way you like. Just make sure the cuts are clean and the stems are cut above a set of healthy leaves. You can also pinch the plant to encourage thicker growth and more flowers.
For best results, cut the leaves at the end of the day. This will give the leaves enough time to callous over before they have to start providing moisture and nutrients to the new roots.
How to Repot Angel Wing Begonia
Angel wing begonias do best when they are repotted every two years. They prefer being pot-bound, so only repot if you need to. If you see roots coming out of the drainage hole of your pot, then it’s a sign to repot.
Choose a pot that is at least 5 inches wider than the current container. The pot should have holes in the bottom to allow for proper drainage.
You can use a well-draining potting soil when repotting your plant or African Violet mix.
Begonias have a vast root system and are top-heavy.
Planting in a clay or a terracotta pot that’s shallow can help balance out the weight to prevent the plant from toppling over.
How to Propagate Angel Wing Begonia
You can propagate angel wing begonias in several ways. The easiest way is to use stem cuttings, but we cover a few additional ways below.
Propagate from seed
Propagate angel wing begonias from seed during warm months. Begonias are tropical plants, and they will not germinate in temperatures cooler than 70 degrees F.
Sow seed indoors in pots or flats or outdoors when the soil temperature is warm.
If you’re sowing indoors, use a light, sandy soil-based potting mix and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Begonias grown from seed will take about 6-8 weeks to germinate.
When sowing seed outdoors, sow the seed directly into a bed of moist, sandy soil.
Propagate from stem cuttings
Propagating from stem cuttings is one of the easiest ways to grow a new Begonia! Follow these easy steps to get started. Make sure to prepare a new pot or container for your cutting, fresh well-draining potting mix, and sterilized garden shears before you get started.
Cut a stem about 6” long with at least two pairs of leaves.
Trim off the leaves at the base of the stem and dip the tips into rooting hormone.
Let the stem callous over for about a week before planting it in a sandy soil-based potting mix.
Place the pot in a warm, humid environment with good light, but no direct sunlight.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
After about a month, the stem should have formed new roots and can be transplanted to its own pot.
If you plant the stem in soil that is too wet, the stem will rot. If this happens, remove the stem and try again with a different potting mix.
Propagate from leaf cuttings
To get started with leaf cuttings, cut off a healthy leaf about the size of your palm.
Place it in rooting hormone and then a sandy soil-based potting mix and keep it warm, humid, and moist.
After about one month, the plant should have formed new roots and can be transplanted to its own pot.
Common Angel Wing Begonia Issues and Pests
Angel wing begonias are prone to root rot due to poor soil drainage and overwatering. Outdoors, the most common pests are mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites. Indoors, the most common pests are spider mites and aphids. To treat for pests, thoroughly clean the plant, use neem oil or insecticidal soap, and make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight in the summer.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as white powdery substance on the leaves and stems of the plant caused by too much moisture. It can be prevented by ensuring good air circulation, well-drained soil, and less water. Fungicides like sulfur or neem oil can be used to treat the plant.
Angel Wing Begonia Not Flowering
Begonias require light, warmth, and phosphorus-enriched fertilizers to bloom. If your begonia isn’t flowering, you may have placed it in too much shade. Move to a location where it will receive a few hours of bright light.
Soft Brown Leaves or Root Rot
Soft brown leaves can be a sign of root rot. To treat root rot, slowly remove your Angel Wing Begonia from the pot. Softly clear out the soil so your roots are clean. Using sterilized scissors, trim and cut dead, mush roots. Wash the roots with water and a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect. Repot in fresh soil. You can read our in-depth guide here.
Pests like spider mites and mealy bugs
Spider mites and mealy bugs are two of the most common pests on indoor plants. To get rid of these pests, thoroughly clean the plant, especially the leaves. Then, spray the plant with an insecticide like neem oil. You can find neem oil at most garden supply stores. Make sure to read the instructions carefully before applying the spray. Certain plants cannot be sprayed with certain chemicals, so make sure you’re treating the right plant.
FAQ for Angel Wing Begonia
How do I get my Angel Wing Begonia to flower?
Light is a key factor in making sure your begonia blooms. Make sure it’s receiving a few hours of bright light a day.
Are Angel Wing Begonia’s Annual or Perennials?
They are perennial shrubs.
Do Angel Wing Begonias like sun or shade?
They like part sun, part shade. Avoid direct sunlight.
Is Angel Wing Begonia Toxic?
Yes, they are mildly toxic to animals like cats and dogs. Their leaves contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals. Keep away from children.