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Spotlight on: Maple Leaf Begonia

Begonia-dregei

Like many begonias, the so-called Maple-Leaved Begonia is a very easy-to-grow container plant. They are fairly drought-tolerant, can grow well in shade outdoors or indoors, and are basically pest-free. The leaves have red veins and a mottled appearance, giving visual interest, and they will also put out delicate white flowers at certain times of the year. What sets the maple-Leaved Begonia apart, is a large, fleshy succulent stem that makes the plant look like a little miniature tree! It has a bulbous base that gives it the look of a Desert Rose or Ponytail Palm. Unlike those, larger, more expensive plants, this Begonia develops that form at a young age! They are a great foliage plant, and can also be trained to have the look of a bonsai plant! Their forgiving nature means they can easily be trimmed, bent, and trained into a variety of shapes. As with all bonsai growing, if you use wires to bend a branch in a certain direction, make sure to take the wire off after a couple of months so as not to girdle the stem!

 

Grow Maple-Leaved Begonia in well-drained potting soil in a pot with good drainage, and water thoroughly, but allow to dry out completely in between watering. This translates to watering about every 5-7 days outdoors in the heat, and every 14-21 days indoors. They should be grown outdoors in mostly shade, such as on a porch or patio, or indoors in bright to medium indirect light. These little beauties are not very cold hardy down into the lower 30’s, so bring indoors always on cold nights in winter. The only major problem you will have this Begonia is powdery mildew, so be sure to water in the morning as things are heating up, so surface moisture will evaporate, and avoid getting water on the leaves. If powdery mildew persists, move the plant to an area with better air circulation, so leaves dry more quickly. Mild copper fungicide can be sprayed. Fertilize the plant throughout the warm months with all-purpose fertilizer such as Osmocote or Miracle-Gro, and stop fertilizing plants in winter.