These enticing South American plants display two folded wings that come in an eye-catching heart-shaped design. Since they have large leaves, they are generally adored for their foliage. Once-blooming begins, you will be utterly impressed by the luscious charm the angel wing begonia brings to your outdoor or indoor garden.
Though they can grow up to ten feet in height, basic level pruning suffices to grow them manageably. Even better, based on the lighting conditions this perennial flowering plant lives in, expect varying intensities of orange, white, red, and pink colors.
Angel wing begonia has some specific growing and maintenance requirements that we will be addressing in this article. Rest assured, though they can be mildly poisonous for children and pets, you will be glad you took up this DIY gardening project.
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Here are four main cultivation mediums for growing angel wing begonias indoors:
#1. Fibrous Rooted Begonias
These erect plants and tender evergreen perennials can grow to have highly uneven stems. They are known to produce in silver foliage that can have bold shapes and strikes. Although some gardeners prefer this variety for the lustrous flowers, the better half of backyard greenery enthusiasts crave such foliage.
For maintenance purposes, keep it safe from direct sunlight, expose it to high humidity, and strictly restrict the water level to the surface. Moreover, if you do not provide sufficient ventilation, expect mildew to spoil the aesthetics of your plants in humid conditions.
Ensure that the compost doesn’t drain out and, at the same time, never dare overwater. Once you have established fibrous-rooted begonias, from May to September, feed them every two weeks. Remember, the potassium content of the plant food provided has to be high.
#2. Cane-stemmed Begonias
Similar to fibrous-rooted begonias, these evergreen perennials are also woody. This woodiness can be credited to the bamboo-themed stems that also hold swollen nodes. While they originate from Brazil, cane-stemmed begonias are nurtured because of their capability to grow large, durable drooping flowers, and without a doubt, their glorious foliage.
While most maintenance procedures are similar to that of fibrous-rooted begonias, gardeners need to be mindful of cutting down watering cycles in winter. Also, healthy lighting conditions will positively influence hardy stems and bountiful flowers.
#3. Rhizomatous Begonias
These tender evergreen perennials blossom from a rootstock that is creeping outwards. Additionally, the better half of rhizomatous begonias are known for their lustrous and attractive foliage.
These plants need extra shade during the summer and must be watered by more significant amounts in this season. Above all, the soil must have good draining properties too. And speaking of fertilizers, wait till May arrives and then feed it high nitrogen fertilizers every two weeks till September.
#4. Semi-tuberous Begonias
These are a hybrid version of two begonias and are predominantly plants that bloom in winter. Most often, this variety can be spotted with a florist. Once flowering is complete, gardeners usually end the cultivation cycle and make use of the flowers. With the help of present-day cultivation methodologies, plant nurseries can now accommodate these plants throughout the year.
If you could maintain 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures during the flowering phase and place it in partial shade, expect an abundant flowering.
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Growing Instructions for Angel Wing Begonia
Based on the outdoor temperature, angel wing begonias can be placed either indoors or out in the sun. Simply put, if the outdoor weather fluctuates between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit regularly, don’t hesitate to transfer the plants indoors. Also, assure to place them in pots before getting them inside.
Here are additional parameters to keep in mind while growing the angel wing begonia plant:
Watering and Nutritional Requirements
While these plants are susceptible to browning leaf edges that lead to shorter lifespans, you can avoid this affair by resorting to frequent watering cycles. Although, do not allow water to collect in large amounts in the soil or pot. This sort of overwatering can easily lead to root rot and plummeting growth.
Since they tend to thrive in humid atmospheres, steer clear from situations that can lead to misting. Sadly, misting leads to an increase in brownish marks on the leaves.
Remember, the lighting affects the nutritional intake of these plants. Provided you are looking for rapid blossoms, create an environment of greater lighting and warmer temperatures. On the other hand, if you desire wider, healthier-looking leaves, resort to dimly lit conditions.
Most DIY gardeners prefer a mix of rapid blossoms and leaf-intensive growth. To achieve this, sprinkle the plant with a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer and position it in a bright yet indirect light region. The balanced fertilizers and adequate lighting will guarantee a beautiful mix of greenery with other flowers.
Hailing from South American forests, the angel wing begonia is native to regions that overshadow it with larger plants. This covering conceals the plant from the sun’s direct rays, and for generations, it has been the same way. Thus, it would be best if you kept it out of sight of direct sunlight while also allowing a moderate amount of light to fall in it.
The location should have some shade and some light, but either of the two elements shouldn’t exceed the other significantly. Ideally, plant them at a time such that they are almost blossoming in colder climates. This is because they can tolerate greater sunshine in colder months, where morning’s natural lighting doesn’t affect them much, and sheltering is possible to prevent the intense afternoon sun.
However confusing it may sound, in short, direct sunlight will curb the growth of the flowers, whereas indirect sunlight will boost flower production.
Best suited for indoor growth, angel wing begonias thrive as a houseplant owing to their preference of generic indoor temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, steer clear from indoor areas that permit strong gushes of wind or cold breeze. Similarly, keep it away from heat sources such as vents and in-house heaters.
Finally, since the plant cannot tolerate frost, bring it indoors when the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The last thing you want is a bizarrely disorganized garden setup. Make sure you conduct pruning sessions since these tall plants can become a messy affair when left unattended. And most importantly, disease transfer due to gardening equipment is not a myth.
Wipe your pruning shears without fail before performing any cuttings. If not, do not be shocked by watching existing pests and plant-centric damage from affecting the angel wing begonia as well.
A wise decision is to chop the area right below a joint in these canes. Even better, the cutting offers you additional resources to begin growing another similar plant. Above that, this induced cutting sets the ball rolling for the parent stem to give birth to a second shoot. This will make your plant more alive, bushy, and breathtaking in the long run.
Try and use decorative trellises since they save the heightened canes from stress due to the weight of massive leaves.
This species of plants thrive in high humidity environments, owing to its acclimatization to such climates over the years.
If possible, regularly mist the plant mildly with a water spray. Be wary of over-spraying the plant since it could easily give birth to rot on the leaves. Even worse, fungal infections will spread at a rapid pace with over-spraying.
Feel free to position a humidifier near the plant as it will naturally amplify the moisture content in the atmosphere.
Firstly, DIY gardening enthusiasts can go down the efficiency route and place a cutting into a jug of water. As soon as roots develop and grow, transplant the cutting to a proper, refined potting soil ecosystem.
Secondly, you could shove the cutting in a sterile growing medium and maintain moderate moisture. Attempt moving the stem protruding outwards in a few days to understand if the root system is growing below.
All gardeners, whether amateur or experts, must keep the two following specifics in mind:
- Fibrous rooted begonia seeds must be planted in pots of seed compost at the start of the year. Ensure to cover the compost surface with a delicate layer of silver sand. As soon as the seedlings show the first leaf, begin potting them. Not to forget, the temperature must be between 73 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Leaf cuttings of specific hybrid begonias should be planted mid-year. It’s crucial to choose freshly matured leaves only. Start by slicing off the stalk of the leaf and then slice through the primary veins. The distance between these cuts should be 2.5cm apart. Continue by positioning the leaf’s surface on a tray of compost.
For your backyard or indoor setting to flourish with begonias, take extra measures to check if the vein cuttings are in contact with the compost. Also, double-check if the temperature in the propagator is between 64 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the plantlets show at least two leaves, pot them in 7cm pots.
Pests And Diseases Affecting An Angel Wing Begonia
Angel wing begonia is not difficult to grow unless the growth cycle is interrupted by pests and diseases. Let’s look at some common pests and diseases that can kill the beauty of these exquisite plants:
#1. Powdery Mildew
This fungal disease can be recognized when a powdery greyish or white layer gathers above the foliage, flowers, and stems. It isn’t just a common fungal infection amongst begonias, but it’s also a hassle to treat. Gardeners could opt for commercial fungicides, or if they are experts at backyard planting, they could curate a DIY compost.
Don’t forget to take immediate action after spotting this infection.
Since soggy soil is the leading cause of fungal infections, always pour some water on the top region of the soil if it seems dry. And since such tender succulents are more likely to fall victim to disease, use fertilizers within a limit.
For best results, start your planting phase by offering a one-foot spacing between the plants. This promotes plenty of air circulation and is an ideal process for widespread nutrient distribution.
Whiteflies are huge flying pests that secrete wax-like remains on leaves and flowers. You have a few options in this case. Either pluck the infected leaves or limit these pests with sticky yellow booby traps.
Please avoid using pesticides on the angel wing begonias. Pesticides may kill a limited number of whiteflies, but they also eliminate essential insects such as pirate bugs and lacewings. The predatory instincts of these insects would otherwise be instrumental in getting rid of the whiteflies.
Additionally, you can soak the entirety of the plant with insecticidal soap spray and take preventive measures to avoid stressing the plants via drought. Mainly because drought conditions bring extra dust and such dirt is a calling for whiteflies.
This is a fungal disease that progresses to form splotches on begonias. As the aesthetically disturbing splotches spread, the leaves showcase sogginess and turn brown.
If Botrytis is left unresolved, the angel wing begonia is approaching death. Consider this fungal disease as a sign to reduce watering the plant’s head and increase ventilation towards the interiors of the plant.
For greater control over the spread, cut off the brown region, or even better, slice the affected cane. After this, use spirits (methylated) to sterilize the cutting. End by discarding any leaves or flowers that have fallen around the plant. Being a DIY gardener, you don’t want them restarting the process of fresh fungal spores.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
This issue leads to tiny, pimple-looking markings to grow on the leaves of the angel wing begonia. Within a few days into its growth, a closer look under proper lighting will reveal the pimples have transparency properties.
After a week or two, these tiny markings cumulate together and wound the plant. A slim-like liquid oozes from these cuts and falls over other parts of the plant as well.
Remember, if the infection isn’t deadly, immediately prune the infected leaves and clear them from around the plant. But if the disease is severe, you need to uproot and discard the plant.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to growing and caring for angel wing begonias:
Angel wing begonias require a distinctive combination of light when attempting to bloom. Despite being super bright, the light must also be indirect. Also, start feeding the plant with food in the form of potassium-rich fertilizers, and you’ll notice flowering cycles within three to four weeks.
Apart from the pests and diseases mentioned above, these plants can suffer from the crown gall, root-knot nematode, foliar nematode, cottony rot, and also Armillaria root rot. To avoid the recurrence of any such problems, discard and burn the infected parts, after which the cutting shears must be disinfected with rubbing alcohol. Moreover, also extract and throw away any soil involved
Mealybugs are known to munch on the leaf undersides, especially around the joint sections of leaves and stems. Even worse, when mealybugs assemble in groups, they form a cottony appearance that is waxy in nature. Unfortunately, any pesticides used will be blocked by this coating. Instead, shift to horticultural oils and also use them often enough to eliminate mealybugs for good.
For DIY gardening professionals looking to solidify the textural elegance of their backyard plants, angel wing begonias are an exceptional choice. Provided you follow maintenance practices and conduct timely checks on the soil, watering, disease, and lighting conditions, you’ll be blessed with a sight to behold.
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