An easy choice to add to any flowerbed is the wax begonia. These flowers do not require much to thrive, making them a smart choice for the busy gardener.
Wax begonias offer an easy option for bedding annuals in colder climates and easy-to-care-for perennials in warmer temperatures. They are also easily adjustable to being indoor plants, providing plenty of opportunities for the plant lover.
These gorgeous potted plants are phenomenal regardless of whether you grow them as a flowering plant outside or as decorative indoor plants.
These late bloomers will add a splash of color at the end of the season, flowering from late summer into the fall.
Read on for everything you need to know about wax begonia care and growing tips.
|Scientific name||Begonia X semperflorens|
|Common names||Wax begonia, begonia, bedding begonia, fibrous begonia, perpetual begonia|
|Plant Type||Houseplant or outdoor plant bed|
|Height and Width||6 to 18 in. tall (outdoors), 6 to 12 in. wide (outdoors)|
|Origin||Central and South American|
|Flower colors||White, shades of pink, shades of red, bicolors|
|Foliage color||Light bronze to deep brown or deep green with maroon shades|
|Sun Exposure||Full but filtered sun|
|Soil Type & pH||Well-drained, humus-rich, slightly acidic|
|Special features||Compact bedding plants ideal for flower beds; waxy appearing leaves that lend it its name|
How to Grow Wax Begonia
Like many begonia plant types, wax begonias are a versatile plant species with wide varieties available. They can be grown indoors or in the garden as bedding plants. Their late blooming makes a beautiful addition to any garden.
They are straightforward to propagate through cuttings. They also prefer moist, but not saturated, soil to ensure their roots do not stay wet. Pruning is relatively easy; plucking off the dead buds each month will help the plant flourish.
Wax begonias prefer to be slightly root-bound, which needs to be considered when transplanting and repotting. If your plant has not had the opportunity to fill its pot completely, chances are it is not ready to be repotted yet.
Wax begonias do not have a high success rate propagating from seed. The best option is to use leaf-tip cuttings.
You will need to take cuttings from sections of the plant with no blooms. These sections must have, at minimum, two nodes.
The cuttings will need to be buried in a moist, warm medium. Store them in a warm, semi-shaded location until new growth begins to appear. The best time for this procedure is in the spring.
Growing wax begonias from seeds is extremely difficult and requires a lot of patience. It is a very long process that may not produce any positive results. So, when considering planting, it is best to use seedlings.
These flowers require well-draining soil to prevent the roots from sitting in a soggy environment. The soil must remain continuously damp, but anything more than this can result in rot, killing the plant. Keep the soil moist but not super wet. Just a moderate amount of soil moisture is all you need.
Soil rich in organic matter will ensure that it has suitable draining properties and provides all the nutrients the wax begonia plant needs. Keeping the soil evenly moist will also ensure your plant can uptake nutrients properly into its waxy leaves, helping to maintain its gorgeous green foliage.
The pruning requirements for the wax begonia are minimal. While it is growing, you will only need to cut back the leaves and branches growing in a curve or overgrow.
Once a month, you should deadhead or pick off the dead stems from the plant. Doing this will keep the plant growing fully.
If the plant is becoming leggy, or growing in a specific direction toward the light, you can cut back parts of it to retrain its growth pattern. Not only will this correct the legginess, but it will also make the plant fuller.
Repotting and Transplanting
You should not take repotting a wax begonia lightly, as it requires being slightly rootbound at all times. The best way to tell when it is ready to be repotted is to pull the plant gently from the pot, and if there is loose soil, it’s not ready yet. Wait until there is no loose soil at all.
Sometimes, you may need to transplant a wax begonia from a larger planter to a smaller one. Too much space can result in too much water and nutrients for proper stability.
When repotting, you must have a pot with good drainage, and if you’re increasing the pot size, only increase it by an inch at the most. You’ll need a planting medium with no soil that contains equal parts vermiculite, perlite, and peat moss.
How to Care for Wax Begonia Plants
Wax begonias are straightforward plants because they do not require much maintenance. Outdoor plants can be watered on a general schedule, while indoor plants must be monitored for soil dryness before adding water.
They prefer full but filtered sun outdoors and as much bright sun as possible indoors. While they can thrive in warmer temperatures, this will affect how much sun they can tolerate and how much water they need.
Several pests and diseases affect the wax begonia, and plant owners will have to look for signs and symptoms of each one to prevent severe and irreparable damage to the plant.
For those wax begonias planted outside, they will need a minimum of one inch of water per week. Using mulch will help retain moisture between waterings.
Indoor potted plants are slightly different. They must be watered when their soil has dried through the first ½ inch. When this happens, they will need to be watered thoroughly, and the pot must drain completely to prevent root rot.
Established plants can go longer between waterings but must be thoroughly watered. For areas of high heat, plan on watering more often.
Generally, wax begonias will grow best in full but filtered sun. However, the afternoon sun may be too hot in warmer climates, requiring partial shade for best results. For plants that are not blooming, more sunlight is needed.
Inside, the wax begonia plant requires as much light as it can possibly get. The best locations in the house to place them are in east, west, and south-facing windows.
Temperature and Humidity
Wax begonias are plants that do well in warm environments. Their ideal temperatures range from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They are cold-intolerant and do not do well with frosts or freezes.
It is probably getting too cold if your plant has started taking on a bluish hue. During nights when the temperature drops, you will need to bring it inside or cover it with a cloth to prevent freezing.
The ideal humidity is 40 – 50%, with anything higher potentially leading to top-heavy plants, mold growth, and mildew growth. Mold and fungus can both lead to severe problems that include stunted growth and dead leaves.
Generally, a standard 10-10-10 fertilizer will work perfectly fine for a wax begonia. This plant is not picky about its fertilizers. Provide a once-a-month dose to encourage growth and flower blooms.
Pest and diseases
You should always look out for certain diseases and pests when growing begonias.
Wax begonia is more pest resistant than other plants, so you’re less likely to find an infestation, but they occasionally occur. Several diseases are known to affect this plant.
One important benefit to note is that wax begonias are deer resistant, so if you have visitors to your yard, you know you will have at least one plant that is safe from harm. You can plant wax begonias anywhere deer might be a problem.
These pests are tiny and look like moving dots on the underside of the wax begonia’s leaves. In small numbers, they do not cause significant damage; however, when they reach infestation levels, they can decimate the plant, destroying it.
Found on most plants, aphids are one of the most common plant pests in gardens and homes. With a moderate presence, no severe damage is done. With an infestation, you will notice curling or yellowing leaves and poor overall plant development.
Whiteflies are typically limited to indoor environments because of their inability to survive winter weather. They are known for causing leaves to wilt and fade to yellow and stunting growth.
You’ll know you have scales on your wax begonia when you notice the growth of sooty mold. They suck the sap from the plant through their needle-like mouthparts and excrete honeydew, which supports the development of the sooty mold.
Mealybugs cause a plant’s leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall off. They can also cause the production of sooty mold because they secrete honeydew-like scales. An infestation in an indoor plant often causes the plant to be a total loss.
Thrips feed on wax begonias and can transmit viruses to plants. The damage they cause includes streaking, speckling, and white patches.
Caused by fungi, leaf spot can present as tiny dots to large patches of brown and yellow covering nearly the entire leaf. Treatment is the removal of affected leaves, and fungicide is not usually needed.
A fungal disease, powdery mildew will form a layer of spores across the top of your plant’s leaves. It can cause stunted growth of your wax begonia.
This disease starts as a white layer on the plant and turns into a gray mold. As soon as you notice this condition, you need to remove the affected plant to prevent spreading to nearby plants, as spores will kick up under many circumstances.
If you overwater your plant and it sits too long in the wet soil, there is the potential for root rot to develop. Drooping leaves and wilting stems are the signs you will notice first. As long as you catch this condition early, the plant will be salvageable.
Common Varieties and Cultivars
There are several cultivars and varieties of wax begonia available for growing in your garden or a planter. Each one offers a beautiful addition to your landscape or your space.
These options include the following:
- Paint splash pink
- Super Olympia
Wax begonias offer a beautiful addition to your home or garden. The plus side is how easy they are to care for. If you do not overwater them, they are generally happy in well-draining soil with bright, filtered sunlight.
Easy to propagate, you will have no trouble creating more plants through cuttings. You also will not have to worry about your wax begonia outgrowing its pot, as this plant enjoys being root-bound. Often, you may find yourself downsizing the pot it is in for the best results.
While wax begonias are relatively pest resistant, there are still several you will need to watch for to prevent severe damage to your plant. Additionally, there are a few diseases the plant is prone to experiencing.
*image by Wirestock/depositphotos