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Begonia brevirimosa belongs to Begoniaceae, a family of perennial herbs, shrubs, and climbers from the tropics. It is a shrub-like species that originates from northern Papua New Guinea.
This species is widely cultivated and prized for its unique and attractive foliage, large, leathery, glossy green and pink leaves, and the sprays of delicate pink flowers. A true wonder of nature.
Care essentials: Begonia brevirimosa is suitable for outdoor cultivation, such as in a greenhouse, because it needs high humidity. Luckily, there are ways to increase humidity in the household environment so this plant can be grown as a houseplant, too. Moreover, it requires warm temperatures, indirect or filtered light, and a well-draining potting mix. Propagation is best done via stem cuttings or seeds.
Here’s what we shall discuss:
- How to identify Begonia Brevirimosa?
- How to cultivate this plant?
- Light and temperature requirements of Begonia Brevirimosa
- How to adjust humidity levels properly?
- What type of soil is recommended?
- How often should you water Begonia Brevirimosa?
- How to pot and when to repot?
- More on fertilization requirements
- Is pruning necessary?
- Propagation techniques for Begonia Brevirimosa
- Recognize and eliminate common pests and diseases
- Frequently asked questions
Read on to learn how to take care of Begonia brevirimosa indoors and outdoors!
How to Identify Begonia brevirimosa?
It is worth mentioning that there are two subspecies of Begonia brevirimosa – subsp. brevirimosa and subsp.exotica (Tebbitt, 2005).
Firstly, they differ in their natural distribution. Subsp. brevirimosa occurs along the coastal mountains and on the islands of Karkar and New Britain, while subsp. exotica can be found farther inland in the mountains of the Western Highlands in Pogera Province.
Secondly, their leaf blades differ. The leaf blades of Begonia brevirimosa subsp.exotica are ovate and they have glossy purple or pink bands on their upper surfaces, sometimes even additional smaller splotches between the veins.
On the other hand, the leaf blades of B. brevirimosa subsp. brevirimosa are elliptic and they have purple or pink spots on their upper surfaces or small blotches between the veins, but no bands.
Nevertheless, these two subspecies require the same care patterns and maintenance.
Before we proceed, meet these lovely Begonias:
I have prepared an insightful guide on how to care for Begonia brevirimosa, so stay with me and enjoy!
How to Cultivate This Plant?
Begonia brevirimosa is an erect perennial that can grow up to 1m tall. As such, it can be grown indoors, in a pot, or ideally in a large terrarium. If you are growing it outdoors, the best option is a greenhouse because of high humidity. It can be trained as a standard shrub or grown on a trellis.
The positioning of indoor plants is critical to their survival. You need to consider many factors, the most important of which are sunlight, warmth, and humidity.
Firstly, you can grow the plant in an open environment, in a pot, in which case you need to increase humidity significantly.
Use humidity to your advantage and be adventurous in your design. Dare to turn your kitchen into an exotic jungle or take over the bathroom with this ambitious display. These are two rooms inside the house with the highest humidity levels and your visitors will be stunned by their presence.
Other areas like the hallway or living room do not provide the best-growing conditions, since the hallway is poorly lit and the air is a lot drier than in the other rooms.
If you decide to display the plant in the living room nevertheless, the best spots are on the table just opposite a window or floor display, so that in both cases the plant receives bright, indirect light. Increase humidity by using humidifiers, a tray of pebbles, or misting.
Don’t neglect your plants if you are growing them upstairs, in which case the best option is on a night table in a well-lit bedroom.
Secondly, growing this humidity-loving plant in a sealed environment, in a terrarium, will make it happy and healthy. It should be placed in a bright area without direct sun.
These are the steps for making a terrarium:
- The container – think of the effect you want to achieve and how the final product should look like. You will need a large one for Begonia brevirimosa. It can be clear or colored, though they do not allow that much light in. Make sure it has a lid that keeps the moisture in.
- Clean and shine the container before planting.
- Fill approximately half of the container with soil.
- Add your plants, making sure they aren’t touching the sides of the container since the leaves will rot from the humidity that accumulates on the glass.
- Carefully water to moisten the soil.
- Keep trimming to a minimum.
- Watch your terrarium for a couple of weeks since you need to determine the preferred atmosphere. You might need to tip the cover or remove it temporarily.
- Add decorative elements to your terrarium, such as decorative rocks, sticks, gnomes, fairies, deer – the options are endless.
- You can also add ground covers, like small chips, orchid bark or moss, pebbles, decorative stones, and glass pieces.
Begonia brevirimosa looks the most attractive in a large terrarium and will indubitably benefit from higher humidity plants.
Growing outdoors – glasshouse
One benefit of cultivating Begonia brevirimosa in a glasshouse is that it will enjoy warmth and humidity even when the snow is piled high outdoors and flowering perennials will start growing much earlier.
In a greenhouse, adjust temperatures above 13 degrees C and bright, but not burning, light. Place them in mid-level greenhouse light or east-facing sunlight.
In a nutshell:
- Potting mix will good draining properties is a must.
- As for watering, let the plant dry out somewhat in winter and do not overwater during the growing season.
- Feed with high-potassium fertilizer in the summer.
- When potting up begonias, do not move them from a small to a very large pot since too much potting soil can produce feeble growth. Pot up one size container at a time.
- Mealybugs, root-knot, weevils, and mildew can bother them in a greenhouse.
Light and Temperature Requirements of Begonia Brevirimosa
Begonia brevirimosa prefers bright to moderate light with good ventilation. It tolerates even light shade, but avoid exposing it to direct sunlight by all means.
It would be wise to change the plant’s location based on the season. In summer, you should place it in the east-oriented window. When the wintertime comes, relocate it to the south-oriented window.
Observe how the plant is looking. If it looks pale, bleached, and develops brown markings, it is due to excessive light.
On the other hand, if it is growing and blooming poorly, it requires more light.
For optimum growth, daytime temp. should be approximately 15-22 degrees C. If you are cultivating the plant in the greenhouse, use wet pads and fans to decrease temperature.
How to Adjust Humidity Levels Properly?
Begonia brevirimosa belongs to a plant that enjoys a moist environment, so it would be ideal to adjust it between 40 and 60%. It can tolerate higher levels as well.
When grown in a greenhouse or terrarium, it already has adequate humidity levels, but when kept as an indoor plant, you need to increase the levels a bit.
As mentioned before, choose the room and the spot wisely and incorporate various methods for increasing humidity.
What Type of Soil Is Recommended?
As I mentioned, this plant loves a humid environment but doesn’t like wet feet. That means it needs light, and well-aerated mix with good draining properties. Also, pay attention to pH level. Find the slightly acidic mix (pH 5.8–6.8).
One of the options is to purchase the potting mix, the other is to make your own. The ideal combo comprises seven parts sphagnum peat, two parts of grit (small, sharp stones), and one part of the bark. Also, add a bit of slow-release food and a bit of ground limestone.
On the other hand, if grown in a terrarium, always opt for a porous mix, the one which contains sphagnum moss and a bit of perlite. Before you use moss, make sure you sterilize it in boiling water.
How Often Should You Water Begonia Brevirimosa?
It is important to keep the compost moist, but not wet. From spring to autumn, allowing the top of the compost to dry out between waterings in winter. Stand on a tray of damp pebbles, but do not mist the foliage, and don’t splash it while watering.
Usually, this plant needs the precious liquid daily in the summer because temperatures are higher and humidity lower, whereas in the wintertime watering once or twice a month will suffice.
To prevent water from evaporating, you can add mulch on top of the soil. You can use the index finger test to evaluate whether the watering time has come.
How to Pot and When to Repot?
Choose a pot that accommodates the plant’s root ball easily, one size larger than the old pot. You can opt for plastic, clay, or terracotta pots. If you keep it in a clay pot, it will need more water than those accommodated in solid plastic pots.
Whatever the case, remember that your plant should not be allowed to sit in a saucer with water since that will lead to waterlogging and root rot. Plant in fresh, well-draining soil. Don’t forget to remove the old soil from the roots.
Set in filtered sun or light shade and keep away from radiators and heaters in winter. Repot when root-bound in spring.
More on Fertilization Requirements
Add fertilizer every 2 weeks from late spring to early autumn with a dilute liquid or slow-release food. Water-soluble products with nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. The ideal ratio for Begonia Brevirimosa (and other members of the family) is 20-10-20. Always and be careful not to damage the roots by overfertilizing.
Is Pruning Necessary?
To keep the plant in a good shape, pinch back young ones of the shrubby type. That will keep them compact and encourage flowers. This step is not often needed and you should let the plant grow naturally.
Propagation techniques for Begonia Brevirimosa
You use the same techniques as for other Begonias- via stem cuttings or seeds.
How to propagate using stem cutting?
Make the cutting by using sharp and sterile tools. Always choose a healthy and non—flowering stem or a branch. As for the length, it should be around 5–15 cm. Also, choose the one which has nodes, 2-5. Once you remove the lower leaves, place the cutting upright in a jar, glass, or bottle of water. Don’t drown the nodes.
It takes a couple of weeks for roots to form, and then you can move it to the real container.
You can also propagate from leaf cuttings, by laying the cut, healthy leaf blades flat on damp sand, making sure that you cut a few of the main veins, and weighing the leaf blades down with pebbles. New plantlets will develop from the cut veins in a few weeks.
When you compare these two methods, the one with stems is more effective.
Is seed propagation complicated?
Not at all. This method works just fine for this family.
When you opt for this method, make sure you find a location that is not windy. You don’t want it to blow the seeds away.
Sterilize the potting medium by baking them in the oven at 16–21°C for approximately an hour. Then use warm water to wet the mix, and drain it well. After that, sow them across the humid medium and place them in the bright location. Expect them to sprout within two to three weeks, but don’t worry if it takes longer than that.
Recognize and Eliminate Common Pests and Diseases
As you know, Begonia brevirimosa is more likely to be subject to pests in a greenhouse than indoors.
Some of the common pests are:
Mealybugs – pests that are covered with a distinctive crumbly, soft, white wax and secrete a characteristic cottony or wooly substance over their egg clusters. Use alcohol to wipe affected areas, or try luck with horticultural oils and insecticidal sprays if the problem is persistent.
Those white patches on the leaves, stems, and buds- that’s mildew. To prevent it, avoid overhead watering and ensure good airflow and ventilation. If that doesn’t help, find some adequate fungicides.
Weevils usually attack at night. They leave recognizable marks on the edge of the leaves. Remove them by hand and apply liquid insecticides from July to October to make sure they are gone.
Root-knot may also trouble begonias, and it is caused by nematodes, worm-like insects. That’s why you should never water your plants overhead. Also, remove dead or dying leaves to prevent them from attacking your plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Begonia Brevirimosa toxic to humans?
The sap inside the plant can be irritating, so if you have sensitive skin, always use gardening gloves when planting and transplanting your Begonia.
Are Begonia flowers poisonous to dogs?
They contain calcium oxalate, which if ingested, can cause vomiting, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and similar symptoms. It is necessary to react on time. Also, find some location where your four-legged friend won’t be able to grab a bite of it.
Does Begonia Brevirimosa clean the air?
They purify the air by removing benzene and other hazardous chemicals from it. So, people keep it both for its enchanting appearance and air-purifying properties.
This showy species of Begonia is relatively easy to grow, provided that you provide a sufficiently warm, bright, and humid environment. It is best to observe how Begonia Brevirimosa is looking throughout the year, so you can easily evaluate whether the plant is happy or barely surviving based on its appearance. Have fun cultivating it and enjoy the marvelous view of its unique foliage.
What’s your experience with seed propagation? Share your impressions with me in the comments section below!