Cultivating begonias is a great way to keep your garden bright and vibrant. Begonias produce striking flowers keeping a year-long summer vibe in your home. In addition, they only grow under 1 foot tall, making them excellent indoor plants.
It would benefit you most if you learned how to propagate begonias and have them grow sufficiently. You’ll save more money as you don’t have to buy more from a local seller while keeping your garden pleasing in the eyes.
Begonia propagation is not too complicated. First, you can grow cuttings (stem, leaf, or rhizome) or by planting seeds. Then prepare the optimum environmental conditions for the new plants, such as their light requirements, soil requirements, potting, and placement.
You’ll find the vital steps and details to start planting new begonias from your existing ones as you read on. So, let’s get to it!
One of the many perks of having begonias is growing them in multiple ways. You’ll only have to follow simple steps making it practical for even the most inexperienced hands.
Generally, you can choose to propagate begonias from seeds or through cuttings. But before you plan the propagation, it’s best to understand what type of begonia you have as a parent plant. That way, you can weigh your options better.
Garden begonias are popularly categorized into three based on their root structure: the fibrous, tuberous, hardy, and rhizomatous begonias.
- Fibrous: Begonias with thin branching roots such as wax begonia, angel-wing begonia, and cane begonia. They produce small flowers and waxy round leaves.
- Tuberous: This begonia has fleshy tuberous roots with large, flashy flowers in different colors (yellow, red, orange, pink, salmon, and white). Some of the tuberous begonias include the hanging basket, Encanto orange, and some varieties of dragon wings.
- Rhizomatous: Begonias categorized as rhizomatous have fleshy roots and stems crawling on the soil’s surface. They have interesting foliage as the large leaves grow from the rising rhizomes. Also, the flowers tend to cover the entire plant. They thrive best indoors than in gardens.
Despite the structural difference in their roots and foliage, you can propagate these begonias through seed growing and cuttings. Here’s what you need to know.
Cutting is an excellent choice of propagation if you plan to flood your garden with multiple begonias or keep robust ones indoors. Plus, you have different options when it comes to the part you want to cut off and replant, specifically the stem, leaf, or rhizome.
- Scissors or pruners
- Razorblade or a pocket knife
- Water and bleach
- Seed tray
- Fluorescent light
Pro Tip: Disinfect all the tools using a mix of water and bleach to keep the new begonias healthy. While begonias have good resistance against bugs and insects due to their high concentration of oxalic acid, they can be prone to fungal infections.
Rooting a begonia from the stem is pretty straightforward. First, prepare your soil mix in the seed tray or rectangular pot. Next, simply grab your scissor or small pruning shear, then cut a stem in the plant, about 1 to 1 ½ inches. Choose a stem with a healthy mature leaf. Then, stick the stem on the soil far enough that the base of the leaf touches the surface.
Repeat the process if you wish to propagate more begonias according to the tray’s capacity. Place your newly potted plantlets under fluorescent light for about 12 hours a day to encourage faster and healthier growth. Likewise, keep the new sprouts in a highly humid area.
Begonia leaf propagation requires careful leaf vein slices.
Cut a healthy leaf with plump veins on its underside. Using a razor, turn the leaf over and cut the veins horizontally about an inch from the central vein. Don’t throw out the rest of the leaf parts. Instead pin the whole part on the soil mix. Don’t pin on the veins. Between the cuts, the new baby begonias will sprout.
To hold the leaf in position, you can use small rocks on top. Just make sure that they are not pressing on the veins. Then, follow the same steps on light exposure as with the stem cuttings.
You can propagate rhizomatous begonias straight from the rhizomes. It’s different from the stem as rhizomes grow horizontally from the ground.
First, cut about 1 to ½ inches of a rhizome. Then, press it on the soil mix and follow the same light and humidity requirements as that of the other begonia cuttings.
If you’re not a fan of all the cuttings, you can always go classic and grow new begonias from seeds. You can get seed pellets from local stores or, better yet, harvest the seed pod behind the flower. However, this can be tricky as the seeds are incredibly tiny. But, you can expect to have new begonias germinate faster.
Nonetheless, if the seeds are ready, you can just spread them on the mixed soil in the tray. Make sure they are not placed too close to each other so you can easily pick the baby begonias and transfer them in separate pots.
Make sure you provide sufficient light to promote germination. Start repotting the seedlings as soon as new leaves sprout.
You can choose to grow new begonias in a soil or water environment. Planting begonias in the soil is straightforward. All you need to do is prepare the begonia cuttings as detailed above or the seeds for germination.
If you’re wondering which method suits you best, check out the following pros and cons.
Soil Propagation: Ideal for growers who plan to have begonias in their gardens or yard
- Soil contains rich nutrients for new sprouts
- The new begonias adapt easily when repotted
- It causes less stress to begonias
- It’s more expensive
- Requires some extra space
Water Propagation: Best for beginners who want to grow begonias indoors
- Less costly than using soil
- Beginner-friendly as you will only need to submerge the cuttings
- It doesn’t work with begonia seeds
- Requires topnotch quality water
- You may need to add hydroponic fertilizer for robust growth
- Needs regular water change
Begonias grown from seeds germinate in about 14 days or up to three weeks. On the other hand, you can expect leaves growing from begonia cuttings within four to six weeks.
You can consider this rate when planning to duplicate your begonias. If you wish to grow more begonias in a shorter time for sale, then the cutting method could be your best choice. Likewise, growing new begonias from cutting is also preferred by many home gardeners because it’s simpler than harvesting the seeds.
While germination varies among begonias, it’s imperative to provide the optimum condition for growing new ones. Hence, secure everything they need to sprout.
An essential step in how to propagate begonias is understanding their growth requirements. Fortunately, the details are easily digestible.
How much sun begonias need depends on the age of the sprouts. When they are fully grown with foliage, they love the shade. But when they are still germinating and growing new leaves, they need plenty of light.
You can place the nursery tray on a windowsill for 4 to 6 hours or in areas where a bright light is accessible. Alternatively, you can use a fluorescent light placed directly above the seedling tray, about 3 to 6 inches away. Turn it on for 12 to 16 hours a day.
The best soil for germinating begonias from seeds or cuttings must be moist yet well-drained. It has to be porous, so the water doesn’t get stuck in the soil for a long time. Otherwise, the roots become susceptible to rotting and the entire plant to fungal infections.
If you’re planning to grow begonias in your garden, consider getting sandy loam soil. Add some organic fertilizer to the mix.
You can also use a soilless potting mix to ensure rich nutrients from peat moss, perlite, and vermicast. This is more suitable for indoor begonias.
When planting begonias in pots, choose one with a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
Begonia water requirements follow that of any tropical plant. First, you must keep the soil porous. So, it’s best to water your begonias every two to four days.
At all costs, avoid overwatering, or else the leaves become susceptible to browning and the roots to rot. Worst case, you may be subjecting the new begonias to irreversible damage with the leaves completely falling off.
If you’re unsure, check the topsoil and see if it’s completely dry. You can also stick your finger into the soil to check its moisture but make sure you’re wearing a glove. If the soil is indeed dry, proceed with watering the plant. If not, give it a day or two.
During winters, limit watering to once every 3 to 4 weeks as moisture remains high during these times. Then, adjust the schedule back to the routine during spring.
When it comes to understanding how to plant begonias, humidity is crucial. Begonias love high humidity, about 70% to 90%. If you place them in an area with drastically low humidity, they will dry up too quickly.
You can ensure this condition by misting your baby begonias with alkaline water. If you’re keeping them indoors, have a humidifier in the room.
Begonias are easy to plant and incredibly simple to grow as they thrive in different living conditions. You can place them indoors or outdoors in pots or hanging baskets. Just secure their growth requirements, and you can start propagating more in no time.
They are best for beginners, even for those who have zero experience in gardening. But they also suit advanced home gardeners as you can choose from a wide range of begonia varieties.
Fibrous begonias can spread across the ground when planted in a broader pot. This is because their roots branch out along with the rhizomes containing nodules for new sprouts. Typically, they can stretch between 6 to 12 inches on the ground.
The best time to plant begonias is during the late winter and early spring months. You can start propagating new begonias indoors during the winter and then have them grown in a separate pot as spring comes.
Although it’s relatively easy to grow begonias, they could still come with challenges preventing them from growing properly. Some of the problems your may encounter include the following:
- You place them in a highly shaded area. Sprouting begonias need bright light. When they start to show foliage, that’s the time you can transfer them to a shadier location. Use a fluorescent light if you’re growing them inside your home.
- The soil you used is too clumped. Choose well-drained soil if you want your begonias to germinate and thrive.
- The room is too cold for the sprouts to grow. Give your begonias a little atmospheric heat as they don’t do well in a cold environment.
- You have been overwatering the begonias. Sure, lots of plants love water, but if you smother them, they will die out on you. So, limit watering and follow a proper schedule while checking the soil from time to time.
Knowing the steps on how to propagate begonias allows you to duplicate them effectively and more frequently. But choosing the right method depends on your resources, time, and purpose.
If you want to propagate begonias for your home aesthetic, you can just grow the cuttings in water first and repot. But if you imagine a garden filled with striking colorful flowers, consider propagating them directly in the soil.