With leaves that are shaped like angel wings and pendant-like drooping flowers that are available in a range of colors, angel wing begonias are native to tropical and subtropical regions.
Despite their exotic heritage, they have adapted well to temperate regions as well, and make great houseplants if cared for correctly.
Luckily, Angel Wing begonias aren’t difficult to grow once you understand their growing requirements. In the plant care tips below, I’ll cover the essentials of growing angel wing begonias.
Angel Wing Begonia Plant Care Tips
There are several factors that influence the healthy development of this plant. The most important ones I discuss below along with a few other tips for successful cultivation.
Size in angel wing begonias can vary. They can be a 10-12 inch plant ideal for an office desk, but they can also grow as big as 5 feet, turning into a veritable floor-standing plant.
If your begonia is growing too tall to manage indoors, don’t be afraid to prune back unruly stems. Pruning back will encourage new growths, so expect your begonia to become fuller.
As the plant grows, you’ll need to repot, to make sure the pot doesn’t tip over. Clay pots come with the advantage of not tipping over so easily, but soil does tend to dry out faster in a clay pot.
Plastic pots do have a better moisture holding capacity, but they lack the sturdiness of clay or terracotta pots, so tip-over can easily happen if you don’t repot your begonia when it starts to get too tall for its pot.
This plant enjoys very bright, indirect light, so a windowsill where it would be blasted with direct sunlight is not ideal. While they’re not the most sensitive to direct light of all the begonias — the rex begonia is much more sensitive — it’s still not as tolerant as the wax begonia.
Therefore, find a location that’s a few feet away from the window, but where the plant still gets plenty of indirect light, which is essential for flower production.
During summer, and especially when the angel wing begonia is in bloom, you may need to water every day, depending on temperature and humidity levels.
The goal is to keep the soil slightly moist to the touch. You don’t want it to be wet or soggy, which can cause rotting at the base and roots.
In winter, you’re going to need to cut back on watering frequency, without allowing the soil to completely dry out. The top layer of soil can dry out, but the lower layers should still be moist.
Never water the plant from above. If the leaves get damp, they become a fertile ground for fungal issues.
Temperature & Humidity
The temperature range that angel wing begonias will find optimal is between 60 F and 75 F. Temperature should be no less than 55 F. If you keep it outside during summer, you’re going to need to move it back inside as soon as temperatures are nearing 55 F.
In your home, you’re going to need to protect the plant from cold drafts such as open windows, doors, etc. But you need to also protect it from heating sources like heating vents, stoves, and AC units.
Angel wing begonias enjoy an environment with high humidity. You may be inclined to mist the plant, which would be fine if it didn’t dampen the leaves. Misting around the plant can work, but best is to use a humidifier or a tray of pebbles with water.
A soilless, airy and rich potting mix that offers good drainage is best for angel wing begonias.
You can buy African violet potting mix, which will be ideal for this begonia as well.
The plant does enjoy moist soil, but soil that retains too much water is not going to be good for this plant.
I use half strength liquid fertilizer every other week. During blooming in late fall or late spring, you should switch to a fertilizer that has a higher phosphorus content, similarly feeding it in diluted form.
Potting & Repotting
This begonia variety doesn’t mind being pot-bound, in fact, it performs better if it’s lightly pot bound. Do make sure the pot has draining holes and transfer to a bigger pot if there’s a risk of tipping over.
Repotting should be scheduled to early spring, when new growths are starting to appear. Never attempt repotting while the plant is still in bloom. The blooms will fall off from the shock.
Angel Wing Begonia Plant Propagation
Propagation from cutting is the easiest way to multiply this plant. You can ‘harvest’ leaf tip cuttings that are 2-3 inches in size.
Best to do this on new growths that appear in spring, and make sure the cuttings don’t have any blooms. Place into a potting medium and keep in a moist and warm environment until it roots.
Different Types of Angel Wing Begonias
There are many types of begonias that have interesting leaves (I especially enjoy the white-spotted ones) or beautiful blooms that simply steal the show.
Here are some that I recommend for their elaborate blooms and impressive foliage:
– Begonia Apricot Shades Enhanced
If you’re after blooming begonias, this variety will produce blooms that will literally overflow from your pots. Blooms come in shades of apricot, lemon, and amber. The flowers are single or double blooms, and the foliage of this variety is only an afterthought.
– Begonia Supercascade
With cascades of blooms that come in pink, yellow, orange, red, and white, this begonia variety is grown from seeds. It looks great used in edgings, window boxes and mass planting. Blooms are double and semi-double.
– Begonia Samba
This upright begonia is a true splendor with fringed blooms that come in different pastel colors. The blooms sit atop a bed of dark green leaves with rough edges. This begonia is compact, reaching a mature height and spread of around 8-10 inches.
Angel Wing Begonia FAQs
The FAQs below will delve into troubleshooting some problems related to begonias and some other interesting facts that any begonia grower should know.
Are Angel Wing Begonias Toxic to Pets?
Yes, the ASPCA website lists begonia as a plant that is toxic to pets. The soluble calcium oxalates that the plant contains can cause vomiting and excessive salivation.
If you have curious pets in your home, the angel wing begonia may not be the right choice for you.
Are Angel Wing Begonias Susceptible to Diseases and Pests?
Just as any other houseplant, the angel wing begonia can also be susceptible to various diseases and pests.
Most diseases, however, are the direct result of cultivation deficiencies. If the leaves of your begonia are constantly damp fungal diseases including powdery mildew can affect the health of the foliage. Likewise, overwatering issues can cause stem rot and botrytis.
Prevention is key, so make sure that you keep the foliage dry, you improve air circulation to offset some of the detrimental effects of a high humidity environment, and you don’t water the plant more than it needs.
Pests can also decimate angel wing begonias, especially aphids and sometimes even spider mites. Routinely cleaning the leaves and the use of natural fungicides like neem oil can help prevent and treat pest problems.
Why are Begonia Leaves Turning Yellow?
Leaves that turn yellow on your angel wing begonias can signal a benign issue, such as old foliage dying back as the plant enters a dormancy period. It can also signal a fungal disease, so check the underside of the leaves for signs of powdery mildew.
Leaves can turn yellow as a result of stem rotting or root rot as a side effect of overwatering. The leaves will slowly turn yellow, then brown, and finally the plant will eventually die.
Why are Begonia Leaves Curling?
A number of things can affect the begonia and cause its leaves to curl. The main reasons why this can happen include:
- Sudden changes or variations in temperature. If temperatures suddenly drop below 55 F or if the plant is exposed to a cold draft, its leaves can curl.
- Pests or fungal diseases. Curling leaves can also signal a pest problem or a fungal issue.
- Other reasons include fertilizing issues or watering issues.
It can be hard to identify which of these is causing the leaves on your begonia to curl, so make sure to look for signs of diseases and revisit the basics of begonia cultivation to see if everything in your begonia’s environment is as it should be.
Angel wing begonias are houseplants that don’t pose cultivation difficulties, but it does not tolerate neglect and sub-optimal care.
While not as susceptible to diseases as some other houseplants, the angel wing begonia can suffer a host of problems if you don’t provide it with the proper care and attention.
At the very minimum, you should avoid overwatering, exposure to strong direct sunlight, and exposure to cold temperatures.