The angel wing begonia plant is a unique and beautiful houseplant, with dark green leaves in a trademark heart shape. This plant enjoys the warm temperatures and high humidity of tropical to temperate regions but is very easy to manage indoors if your climate is too chilly.
What Is An Angel Wing Begonia?
Native to South America, the angel wing begonia was developed in 1926 by crossing Begonia aconitifolia and Begonia coccinea. It is typically grown for its slightly heart-shaped leaves. They grow in pairs, and each pair slightly curves in towards each other, making them look like angel wings. However, although the leaves give this begonia variety its name, the flowers are also beautiful. These delicate flowers only bloom in late winter and early spring.
Angel Wing Begonia Care Requirements
All angel wing begonia varieties need the same basic care requirements. The right growing condition will help your angel wing begonia to actually bloom in pendulous clusters of flowers during its brief blooming period during late winter and spring.
Angel wing begonias thrive under bright indirect light or partial shade. They are not as tolerant as wax begonia, as direct sunlight will typically kill this plant. If you'd like to encourage flower production, give it more direct sunlight - morning light is a good option, and it will receive bright light for a time without being scorched by the harsh, direct sunlight of midday. Low, indirect light will lead to a plant that focuses more on leaf production than flowers. That's not necessarily a bad thing with leaves as unique as the angel wing begonia!
The biggest hurdle in caring for an angel wing begonia is watering. Angel wing begonias require frequent watering, or the edges of their leaves will start browning. However, they are also highly prone to root rot. You need to water frequently, but not so frequently that there is standing water in the soil. This usually means at least one weekly watering. If your plant is outside and the weather is hot or dry, you will likely need to water it daily.
Angel wing begonias like warm weather. They can be planted outdoors if you live in a warm and slightly humid zone. If the outdoor temperatures regularly dip below 55° overnight, you should plan to use a pot. This way, you can leave your angel wing begonia outside during the summer but easily move it inside when the nighttime temperatures drop. Using a terra cotta or clay pot will help you keep up with the frequent water schedule while preventing root rot since these pots dry out quickly.
Your angel wing begonia prefers a high humidity environment. Depending on your growing zone, your normal outdoor climate may work perfectly! To help boost humidity indoors without turning your home into a greenhouse, here are some tips:
Fill a tray with pebbles and fill it with water, taking care not to fill it past the top of the pebbles. Then, set your begonia pot on top of the pebbles so that the pot is not actually sitting in the water.
There's nothing more straightforward than simply running a small indoor humidifier next to your plant.
Placing By Other Houseplants
Houseplants naturally increase humidity levels, and placing multiple humidity-loving plants close together will raise the humidity of that space.
Note, however, that the angel wing begonia plant does not respond well to misting.
Because water can be such a balancing act with angel wing begonias, a wise soil choice can really help. Use a loose potting mix with a high level of organic matter.
Because angel wing begonias have both beautiful blooms and unique foliage, you can use fertilizer and light levels to encourage one or the other. A nitrogen-rich fertilizer feed will encourage more leaf growth, while a high phosphorus fertilizer will boost blooms. Fertilize monthly, particularly during the blooming season. To keep its glossy and vibrant look year-round, fertilize liquid plant food every two weeks using a high potassium diluted feed at half strength.
Some varieties can reach heights of up to 10 feet, so be prepared to prune or use support poles.
Pruning will encourage new growth and help keep the plant healthy. To prune, simply make a cut just below a joint in the cane. You can use this cutting to propagate another plant.
One benefit of growing angel wing begonias is that you will likely wind up with many cuttings. You can use these to start new plants using one of two methods.
Place the cutting into a bottle of water and wait for roots to develop. Once root growth appears stable, transplant the cutting into potting soil.
Place the cutting into a rooting hormone and then plant it directly into potting soil. Be sure to keep the soil moist. You should see new roots in 2 to 3 weeks.
You will need to repot as the plant grows to prevent the pot from tipping over. While clay pots will help with not tipping over, the soil does get dry out faster. Plastic pots can retain moisture better, but it's not as sturdy as clay or terracotta material.
As the plants grow, larger plants will need to stake up to prevent any damage. You can use either support poles or trellises.
Most tropical plants can struggle with spider mites, mildew, mold, and root rot. For issues with pests, spray your angel wing begonia with neem oil. Prevent mold and mildew problems by providing good air circulation, warm temperatures, and strong yet indirect light. If you notice leaves starting to turn yellow or brown, you likely have an issue with either water or light.
This is typically an indicator of too moist soil. Consider unpotting your plant and letting the roots dry out before repotting. Yellow leaves can also be an indicator of too cold of temperatures. Make sure your plant isn't in the path of cold drafts, heating vents, or open windows.
Brown leaves can be a sign that your plant's roots have become pot bound, and you need to transplant them to a larger pot. More frequently, however, it means that your angel wing begonia receives too much direct light and gets burned.
Powdery mildew is characterized by patches or spots of white color powder-like texture on plants. To prevent this fungus, avoid getting the leaves damp in the process, as this can lead to fungal diseases like stem rot or powdery mildew.
If your angel wing begonias are infected with the fungus, you can treat them using fungicide or trim of affected areas.
Is Angel Wing Begonia Pet Friendly?
Angel wing begonia is poisonous to both pets and humans if eaten. Be sure to place your plant in an inaccessible area for your pets.