All about the Rex Begonia
The rex begonia is a plant that was once popular, then almost completely disappeared from view, and now is gaining in popularity. The rex begonia is one of those plants that has very showy leaves so it is grown for its colorful foliage and not primarily for its flowers. The name, Rex, comes from the Latin word for king.
The leaves of the rex begonia are as colorful as the flowers on most plants. They are streaked with many different colors, such as pink, white, purple and yellow. The leaves come in many different shapes as well, and you can have giant plants or those as small as miniatures.
Because the rex begonia is considered to be a hard plant to grow, some people think it is beyond their capabilities to successfully care for this begonia. In that way, it is thought of in the same way as many roses--it’s passed over because of the extra attention it needs. But don’t let that deter you from giving the rex begonia a try. If you live in a very warm climate, you can grow them outdoors, but for most people this plant is best grown as a houseplant.
The rex begonia needs a lot of humidity and that is the challenge for most growers. The plant needs a minimum of 50% humidity year-round. Some gardeners set their plant pots on a tray filled with gravel and water underneath. As long as the plants pots are not getting wet, the water will produce humidity that is just right for the begonias. But, don’t think that just because your begonia likes humidity, it will thrive in wet conditions. It won’t. When it comes to getting too wet, the rex begonia is just as unhappy as it is with low humidity.
Over watering is a sure way to kill a begonia. You need to wait until the soil is dry and looks like it needs water before watering the plant. Also make sure that there is good drainage in the bottom of your plant pot so water does not collect and sit in the pot. The rex begonia is prone to fungal diseases if it’s too wet.
As far as light goes, the begonia likes indirect light, so don’t make its home in a spot where it will receive sunlight throughout the day. Sunlight can actually burn the leaves so that they are no longer beautifully colored. The plant needs warm day temperatures that are above sixty degrees and preferably in the seventies. It doesn’t survive night temperatures that drop below forty degrees, which is why it is most often grown indoors. They will often lose their leaves in winter.
As far as propagation goes, you can grow the rex begonia from cuttings. You can use either peat moss or water to grow roots. In fact, you can grow new plants from stem cuttings and from leaf cuttings. Planting your cutting in peat moss and then placing it in a sealed plastic bag will help promote the type of humidity that this begonia loves.
Although you can start a rex begonia from seeds, it is not recommended. There is no certainty that the plant which is grown from seed will be the same kind of begonia as the parent. In addition, this kind of begonia is very slow growing, even when propagated from cuttings. It needs to be fertilized with a normal houseplant fertilizer throughout the growing season.
Some rex begonias are full of spiraling leaves and swirling colors, such as chocolate leaves with silver spirals. They now come in just about every color combination. Don’t be afraid to grow this beautiful plant because you have heard it is difficult. With just a little extra attention, especially to humidity, you can have a thriving colorful begonia that will impress everyone.