How to Start an Angelwing Begonia

Overview

Propagation ranks among the most rewarding aspects of growing angelwing begonias. Expand your plant collection or give a new plant to a friend so she can enjoy the wing-like spotted foliage and seasonal flowers. In tropical, frost-free regions angelwing begonias populate shady border beds and patio containers. Indoors, they make pleasant house plants that need only bright indirect light and tolerate slightly drier soils between waterings, since they have fleshy leaves and stems.

Stem Cuttings

Step 1

Remove the top 3 to 6 inches of a healthy, growing stem of the angelwing begonia using a sharp knife. Avoid flowering stems. The stem cutting needs two to five nodes on it, the junction lines or notches from where leaves connect or new buds form.

Step 2

Trim away the lower leaves on the cutting. Keep one or two smaller leaves at the stem tip if you wish.

Step 3

Look at the lowermost node on the stem cutting, where you made your first cut previously. Reduce the stem's length so that the lowermost node is 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the end of the stem. Ideally, this node will have a tiny dormant bud, which will root more easily than a node with an old leaf scar only.

Step 4

Fill a small pot with soil-less potting mix and lightly mist the soil surface with water. Rooting mixes that contain one-half peat and sand work well, as do basic houseplant potting mixes sold at garden centers. Do not use topsoil.

Step 5

Insert the bottom of the stem cutting into the potting mix so that the bottom node is at least 1 inch deep. Gently push the stem down further to stabilize it. Gently nudge soil around the stem with your finger.

Step 6

Moisten the soil again with repeated sprays from the water bottle. The soil needs to remain moist, but never dry and certainly never soggy wet, which promotes rot.

Step 7

Place the pot with cutting in a bright location, away from hot direct sunlight, where the temperature remains above 70 degrees F. Within four weeks, roots should develop from the lower node of the stem cutting in the soil.

Leaf Cuttings

Step 1

Remove a young, healthy leaf from any upper half of the angelwing begonia cane with a knife. Keep the petiole stem of the leaf intact, ideally with a length of 1 or 2 inches.

Step 2

Fill a small pot with soil-less potting mix and lightly moisten the soil surface. Use a rooting mix that contains peat and sand or a basic potting mix for houseplants. Avoid topsoil.

Step 3

Insert the petiole stem of the leaf cutting into the potting mix so that the petiole is fully underground but the start of the leaf blade rests right at the top of the soil line. Gently press soil in around the petiole.

Step 4

Moisten the soil again. Make sure it stays moist, without drying out or becoming soggy, which can lead to root rot.

Step 5

Place the pot with cutting in a bright location, away from hot direct sunlight, where the temperature remains above 70 degrees F. Within four weeks, a small plantlet forms with roots at the soil line where the petiole and bottom of the leaf blade touch the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not over-water the cutting, as it will cause stem rot below the soil. Keep the soil consistently and evenly moist. Try to keep water off of the leafs or stems above the soil line when you water, too.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Soil-less potting mix
  • Small plant pot
  • Spray bottle

References

  • "Begonias;" Mark C. Tebbitt; 2005
  • American Begonia Society: Propagation
  • American Begonia Society: Cane Begonias
Keywords: begonia propagation, begonia stem cuttings, begonia leaf cuttings

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.