Fortunately, knowing how to propagate angel wing begonia isn’t a process requiring many tough learning hoops. The positive buzz around angel wing begonias from gardeners in US hardiness zones 10 and 11 owe much to the startling beauty of the plants as well as how easy it is to cultivate them either indoors or outdoors. Wherever they are grown, the perception of the wildly exotic is heightened.
This makes properly propagating angel wing begonias a must-have skill not just to grow as many as possible, but for the health of the parent plant too. And of course, the young plants make some of the best gifts for plant lovers.
Propagating angel wing begonia is quite easy, involving just a few steps and a bit of patience to get it right. In this guide, we would discuss two ways you can propagate the plant to get your home or garden bed brimming with young, thriving begonias in no time at all.
How to Propagate Angel Wing Begonia
Angel wing begonias (Begonia coccinea), also known as polka dot begonias, are the most striking type of begonias with origins in South America. They belong to the cane stem begonia family with their thick succulent stems that can support a mature plant of up to 6 feet tall and 24 inches wide.
While the stems can easily support the dangling leaves and pink, white, orange, or red flowers when they are less than a foot tall, the matured plants easily become leggy. This makes pruning an important part of angel wing begonia care, helping to maintain the appearance while ensuring it grows bushy and full.
Another benefit of pruning is you are not short of raw materials for propagation, especially during the growing season. Actually, the growing season, between spring and summer, is the best time to prune and propagate angel wing begonia.
As already started, propagating begonias is quite easy. A basic angel wing begonia propagation flow chart would look like this: get the cuttings — root cuttings in growth medium — transplant rooted cuttings.
That said, you could easily get it wrong. Mistakes can occur right from the first stage when getting the cuttings; or even in the last stage if you transplant the young cuttings wrongly.
Let’s now go through all the various steps of propagating your angel wing begonia.
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Things you would need:
Potting mix – A nutrient-rich soil that is slightly on the heavy side so it can conveniently support the tall, heavy stems and extensive root system.
You can make one with equal parts loam, compost, peat, and sand. You could also purchase and use high-quality commercial potting soil like African violet mix. You might have to mix in a bit of clay, though, to make the soil heavier.
Sharp pruners or shears – You’d need this to prune the begonia. It needs to be sharp so you can get a clean cut. Sharp cutters also ensure pruning can proceed at a fast pace. You could also use a pair of scissors as long as the blades are sharp.
Rubbing alcohol – For sterilizing the blades of your preferred pruner or cutter before you begin cutting. Sterilizing the blades eliminates bacteria and other harmful plant pathogens that could be transferred to the parent plant. When making multiple cuts from different plants, regularly clean the blades with rubbing alcohol.
Rinse the alcohol off the blades and allow them to dry before you begin.
Jar of water – Any jar would do as long as it can hold the cutting without toppling over. Transparent glass is better though
The water could spring or distilled water if you are not comfortable with the chemical composition of the public tap water in your area.
Clay pot (8 – 10 inches wide) – Clay pots with drainage holes at the bottom are best for propagating polka dot begonias. Because the potting soil is heavy or dense, you need a clay pot to easily wick away the excess moisture the soil retains.
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Angel Wing Begonia Propagation: Growing Conditions for Cuttings
To successfully propagate your begonias, you have to create the conditions that are ideal for their growth. Fortunately, that just means replicating the growing conditions of a thriving and matured angel wing begonia. If you already have matured begonia plants, nailing this should be routine.
Let’s quickly go through the conditions that promote the growth of begonia cuttings during propagation.
Being tropical plants, most begonias, including polka dot begonias, love warmth with indoor temperatures between 70 – 75°F as the ideal in the daytime. Temperatures lower than 60°F at night are bad for them.
In terms of light requirements, they prefer bright, shady areas. When propagating indoors, you want to place them a few yards away from the windows that get the most sunlight.
And if you have to fertilize, use a 20-20-20 plant food diluted to about half its strength. The recommended frequency is once a month in the growing season.
Getting Angel Wing Begonia Cuttings for Propagation
- Locate a node on the targeted vine on the matured begonia plant. Then using the sterilized cutter, cut the vine a few inches below the node. The begonia cutting, simply known as cutting or cuttings if you have several, is what we are going to propagate.
The node is the ring-like, slightly bulging growth on the vine or stem. Each stem has several nodes at regular intervals. The space between two nodes is the internode, this is where the cut is usually made.
- For faster rooting of the cuttings, each one must have one or two leaves at the top. If there are multiple leaves, remove all of them, especially the lower ones. You want each cutting to focus its resources on roots production only.
The leaves at the top of the cuttings are necessary for the production of energy.
Now you have made cuttings, you can either root them in water or soil.
How to Propagate Angel Wing Begonia in Water
- Put a cutting in a jar of water. Make sure at least two modes are submerged.
- Keep the jar in a warm area with high humidity
- Check the water every other day. Anytime the water appears cloudy, replace it with fresh water.
- In about one or a couple of weeks, the cuttings would begin to root. You’d observe them through the transparent jar.
- When the young roots are about one or two inches long, the cutting is ready for transplanting.
How to Propagate Angel Wing Begonia in Soil
- Add your potting mix to the clay or terra-cotta pot
- Dig a small hole and bury your begonia cutting with the leaves facing upwards. Make sure the leaves are above the soil.
- Depending on the size of the pot, you can plant as many cuttings as the pot can take.
- Water the potting soil. Ensure it is moist and not soggy so be careful how much water you use. Over the coming days, you’d have to ensure the soil is consistently moist.
Also, ensure the environment around the pot is warm or is maintained at the optimal growth temperature range for begonias.
- The cuttings would be ready for transplant when new growths appear at the tip. Unfortunately, you don’t have the option of using the new emerging roots to know when to transplant in this method. So you need to wait for new growth before deciding to transplant.
Transplanting Angel Wing Begonia Cuttings
- Fill a clay pot with your premium potting soil.
- Create a small hole that can accommodate the roots in the soil.
- Carefully remove the cuttings with the young roots from the jar. Place the cutting in the hole (roots downwards) and cover the roots with the potting soil.
- Ensure that at least 2 inches of the cutting’s stem is buried. It needs to be this deep so the soil can easily support the growing stem.
- Water the soil until excess water starts coming out of the drainage holes.
- Subsequent watering depend on when the top 2 inches of the soil is dry. The aim is never to allow the soil to remain dry for long; make sure the soil is not soggy with over-watering which can lead to root rot.
- For cuttings propagated directly in the soil, there is no need for transplanting if you propagated just a single cutting in the pot. But if multiple cuttings were rooted in the pot, you’d have to transplant each one to a pot. This gives the vast root system adequate space to thrive.
Basically, when transplanting, stick to the one rooted cutting per pot rule.
The plants would grow and thrive to maturity over the coming weeks as long as the growing conditions described earlier are maintained.
Some Angel Wing Begonia Care Tips
- You can pinch the top of a growing shoot when the begonia is about 6 inches tall to encourage the growth of lateral shoots
- Prune regularly to keep the matured plant compact and bushy
- To nurture a bushier appearance, don’t prune shoots growing from a stem’s base.
- Completely prune out any vine that is growing too fast with just a few leaves.
Angel wing begonias, like most ornamental houseplants, are easy to grow. This also makes growing new begonias from cuttings easy in the right conditions. These conditions include obtaining a cutting with at least two nodes from the parent plant, favorable potting soil, and ensuring the soil is always moist.
When it comes to the bolts and nuts of the propagation process, you have several options available to you. The easiest and most common are propagating the cuttings in water and directly in the soil. Simply providing the right growing conditions is all that is required after transplanting the rooted cuttings to get a thriving and healthy angel wing begonia in a couple of months or less.