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Begonia rex cultorum hybrids (be-GO-ni-a)
Rex Begonia, King Begonia, Painted-leaf Begonia, Beefsteak
Begonia rex encompasses scores of hybrid varieties notable for
their colored and patterned foliage. These Begonias are
rhizomatous, spreading into new plants on thick stems that creep
along or just below the soil surface. Their leaf shapes are
usually broad and asymmetrical with toothy or lobed margins, and
their colors, patterns and sizes are widely varied. Foliage
colors include combinations of silver, gray, purple, green,
red-brown or bronze. Small, inconspicuous pink or white flowers
appear on some Begonia rexes.
With proper care, these foliage Begonias can live for years.
Foliage Begonias are available year-round.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
WATER Keep the soil
moderately moist, allowing it to dry slightly between waterings.
In winter, water the plants more sparingly.
LIGHT Bright indoor light is
required, but Begonia rexes should be kept out of direct
sunlight. These plants do well in fluorescent light.
temperature Average warm indoor temperatures are appropriate,
between 65 F and 75 F. Begonia rexes should not be exposed to
temperatures below 60 F.
HUMIDITY Begonia rexes do
best in a humid environment, but their leaves should never be
sprayed with water because this can cause leaf spotting. Use a
pebble tray or a humidifier, or cover the plants with a plastic
tent at night.
FERTILIZER Feed plants
regularly, using a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer. Feed the
plants semi-monthly during spring through fall, when plants are
actively growing, and monthly during the winter.
PROPOGATION Begonia rexes
can be propagated through cuttings of the tips, leaves or
PESTS AND PROBLEMS Aphids,
red spider mites, mealybugs and powdery mildew can be problems
for these Begonias. Overly cold and wet conditions can promote
LEAF PROBLEMS Brown-tipped
leaves are caused by a lack of appropriate humidity. Yellowing
leaves signal too little light or too little or too much water.
PRUINING As flowers appear,
pinch them from Begonia rexes in order to keep new leaves from
REPOTTING Use a light,
fast-draining potting soil (such as that for African violets),
and repot these plants about every spring. Potbound plants will
lose their brilliant colors.
FAMILY Begonias make up
their own family, Begoniaceae, which includes more than 1,000
species worldwide and 10,000 recorded hybrids. In addition to
the Begonia rexes, there are other foliage Begonias in the
rhizomatous group; the genus Begonia also includes
fibrous-rooted and tuberous-rooted groups.
HOME SWEET HOME Rex Begonias
are native to tropical and subtropical Asia, Africa and North
and South America. The original Begonia rex was found in India,
but it no longer exists; today’s colored foliage varieties are
hybrids of this original.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The genus
is named for Michel BÈgon (1638-1710), the governor of Haiti,
who introduced the plant to Great Britain.
BRILLIANT SHOW Begonias with
colored leaves require good light to maintain their coloration.
Low interior light levels may cause the leaves to become more
green. The plant’s maturity also affects its coloration.
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, by Barbara Pleasant
Handbook of House Plants, by Elvin McDonald
The Houseplant Encyclopedia, by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Kr¸ger
The House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Flower & Plant Care manual
You may reach Foliage Plant of the Month writer Amy Bauer by
email@example.com or by phone at (800)
Photos courtesy of Hermann Holtkamp Greenhouses, Inc.
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