Dragon wing begonias are an excellent way to showcase your gardening skills while adding color to your space. They don’t require too much from you to stay healthy during their growing season.
However, regular Dragon wing begonia care and maintenance routine are vital to optimize the benefits of the long blooming period that produce clusters of showy, attractive flowers and super shiny green leaves.
And that is what this article is all about: the care and maintenance of Dragon wing begonias. The guide includes everything you need to know when it comes to keeping your begonias happy. And even if you barely get around to taking care of them, the straightforward begonia care tips can easily fit into your busy schedule.
Dragon Wing Begonia Care
Dragon Wing Begonias (Begonia x argenteoguttata) with their distinctive, dragon-shaped leaves are known are by several names. Depending on the region, some of the common names include Begonia Dragon Wing Red, Dragon Red Wing Begonia, and Cane Begonia.
Native to South America, mass production began fairly recently about a decade and a half ago. Since then though, their popularity has grown astronomically. Considering the beautiful brilliant white, red or pink flowers and glossy green leaves, it is easy to understand why.
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Also, these are not fussy plants. And they comfortably embrace the indoor and outdoor versatility that is a hallmark of popular home flowers.
With their origins in warm weather climes, they can barely survive winter or extreme cold. So they are typically annuals in most parts of the country except in zones 10 and 11 where they can blossom all year round.
So what do begonias love? What are their ideal growing conditions and how best do you take care of them?
Dragon Wing Begonias Growth Requirements
Soil – Like most plants, Dragon wing begonias thrive best in light, well-draining, moist soils. If you are growing them in pots, the best soil would be a high-quality premium mix such as the African violet potting mix. This has everything the plant needs to grow.
But you could also make your potting soil with peat moss and perlite to help retain moisture and promote soil drainage respectively. And of course, the pot must have drainage holes underneath so excess water can drain out.
Water – Dragon wing begonias are naturally tough and can withstand long periods without water. But when the plant starts wilting, that is a pretty good indication they should be watered.
Ideally, though, you want to water the soil every couple of days or when the top 1 or 2 inches is dry.
In the rainy season though, watering the garden begonias is not necessary as regular rainfall is enough. But during long spells of dry weather between rainfall, you want to check that the soil is not too dry. Remember though, the plants can survive long periods without water so you might not have to water at all during this period.
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Location – Where the plants are located is also very critical to their growth and development.
Dragon wing begonias can tolerate places with temperatures as high as 100°F outdoors. Optimally, you want to keep them in a shaded area since that temperature (100°F) feels like midday when the sun is at its zenith. Blazing hot sun is bad for them.
Indoors, a temperature range of between 65 – 75°F is the ideal range for optimal growth. While that range is flexible, temperatures below 55°F would definitely inhibit growth.
And finally, in terms of location, these begonias love an area with moderate humidity and it would be smart to keep them from windy locations.
In dry conditions when the indoor humidity gets low, one way to raise the humidity is to use a room humidifier. If you can’t get a room humidifier, simply fill a shallow tray or dish with water and pebbles and set your potted begonia on it. The evaporating water would help elevate the humidity around the plant.
Spacing – Dragon wing begonias are prolific growers and can easily crowd out the area if the space is small. While you can plant multiple begonias in a pot to get that full bushy appearance, putting multiple pots less than 10 inches apart is not a good idea.
Indoors, it is recommended that you give a space of between 15 – 20 inches between pots. This is to encourage air circulation while creating enough growing space.
In gardens, you want to envision how much each space each plant would take up when fully matured to get a rough idea of the kind of space required.
Generally, matured Dragon wing begonias can get up to 2 feet tall and wide. You can use this as a guide to plan your spacing especially if you intend to use them as companion plants.
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Dragon Wing Begonia Care Tips
Like most ornamental plants, if you can nail the initial stages of Dragon Wing Begonia cultivation until they are established, it is almost plain sailing going forward. Care and maintenance become pretty easy with most routines simply a rehash of the growth requirements.
For instance, you don’t have to alter the watering schedule; the plants, though, might need more water since they are now bigger. Also, growing conditions such as the soil, temperature, humidity, and sunlight requirements remain the same.
In addition to all that though, you should incorporate the following care strategies for your begonias.
When it comes to feeding your begonias, the schedule and frequency depend on the season. For instance, the plants require less fertilizer as winter approaches.
During the growing season, in spring and summer, use the recommended fertilizer on them before watering in the morning once every couple of weeks. You want a balanced fertilizer that is further diluted to about half its strength. But remember to stick to the instructions on the label.
In fall, and as winter approaches, cut back on the frequency to about once a month.
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Pruning and propagation
As already stated, Dragon wing begonias are robust growers. This makes routine pruning necessary or they would outgrow the space. Towards the end of the growing season, leaves and flowers discoloration is possible. These and over-grown petals are good candidates for pruning.
It is also a good idea to prune them to maintain a neat appearance or even to shape them the way you want. Besides, pruning helps to refresh the plant with new growths.
There is no fixed period for pruning but you’d best do it in the growing season. While you can easily snap off overgrown petals with your fingers, it’s better and faster to use garden pruners or a pair of sharp scissors.
Before you begin, sterilize the blades with rubbing alcohol and allow them to dry. This prevents the transfer of harmful bacteria and other microbes to the plant.
If you need more begonias, you could propagate the pruned cuttings instead of discarding them. Propagating Dragon Wing Begonia isn’t difficult because the stems cuttings sprout roots easily.
The non-flowering stems are the best cuttings to propagate. Simply stick the stem tip into fresh potting soil. Keep the soil moist and ensure that the other growing conditions are maintained. You should get new, established plants in about a couple of months.
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Diseases and Pests
Begonia diseases and pests are issues you might have to contend with down the road.
Common pest infestations to keep an eye out for include mealybugs and whiteflies. If you spot any, treat the affected areas or even whole plants by spraying with good insecticidal soap specifically made for treating plant infestations.
Root rot can also affect your Dragon Wing Begonias. This is primarily as a result of over-watering, or the soil is retaining too much water and turning soggy.
With root rot, the best action is to uproot the plant and cut out the rotted parts. Then discard the soil, wash the pot with soap, and rinse it before replanting with new potting soil.
If all areas of the root are affected, the situation is beyond salvageable. Simply dispose of the affected begonia plant and the potting soil.
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Dragon wing begonias are not pot bound. However, the fibrous roots can sometimes become a bit pot-bound and might need repotting in a larger pot.
When repotting, use a pot that is slightly larger than the previous pot with the same type of potting soil. Then water the soil very well. Your begonia would be good to go after a brief period of adaptation.
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Dragon wing begonias are popular house and garden plants cherished for their waxy green leaves with bright red or white flowers. They are easy to grow in conditions simulating their origins in South America.
They are heat tolerant and can adapt to varying conditions including infrequent watering. As long as the growth requirements are maintained, caring for them doesn’t require much. All that remains is a slight application of fertilizer in the growing season, pruning, and perhaps repotting when they become too big for the pot.