Rex begonias (Begonia rex-cultorum) are high-maintenance plants grown primarily for their attractive foliage. If you provide the right growing conditions, you'll be rewarded with a pot of stunning, brightly colored foliage.
Rex begonias are tender perennials that survive outdoors in United States Department of Agriculture zones 10 and 11 but they are usually grown as houseplants. The leaves are up to nine inches long and display a wide range of colorful variegation. The plants reach a height of up to 18 inches and perform well in hanging baskets.
Rex begonias need full sun or partial shade and a light, porous potting mix in a shallow pot. Most varieties need a humidity of 50 percent and some need more. High humidity is one of the most difficult requirements to meet indoors but it is important for large, healthy leaves. Don't mist the plant to raise the humidity because the leaves don't like to be wet.
Water and Fertilizer
Too much water or fertilizer can kill a rex begonia. Water only when the soil is almost completely dry. Beginning in spring, apply 1/4 strength complete liquid houseplant fertilizer every two weeks. Reduce the applications in fall and discontinue in winter. Pinching back helps keep the plant bushy.
In winter, rex begonias may enter a period of dormancy. When dormant, the plant stops growing and may drop leaves. Water very sparingly while the plant is dormant and resume watering when it puts out new leaves.
- University of Florida Environmental Horticulture: Recycling the Rex Begonia
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Begonia rex-cultorum
- Fine Gardening: Rex Begonia
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About this Author
Jackie Carroll is a freelance writer with more than 15 years experience. Her home & garden and nature articles have appeared in "Birds & Blooms" and "Alamance Today." She holds a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from the University of North Carolina.