In this article, we are going to discuss how to propagate Begonia maculata leaf cuttings in water and soil. With patience and proper care, you’d soon be gifting friends and family beautiful Begonia plants to beautify their homes.
If you want to avoid the drag of going out to buy a new Begonia maculata plant from a garden store, propagation offers the best route of getting as many plants as you want. In just a few months, you could be the proud parent of lots of potted Begonia maculata plants.
Also known as angel wing or polka dot begonia, propagation isn’t solely about having more begonias. The plant also benefits from the process that involves pruning older leaves. Pruning prevents the plant from growing too tall and leggy while also encouraging that bushy appearance we all love.
How to Propagate Begonia Maculata
Begonia maculata are awesome as indoor plants with leaves that come with red undersides providing a perfect contrast to the dark green topside speckled with white dots. The best time to propagate them is in the growing season to provide the best possible conditions for growth.
There are two ways of propagating the plant using a pruned leaf: with water or directly in a potting mix. We would discuss both methods and other care tips for the young Begonias.
How To Propagate Begonia Maculata in Water
Things you would need:
- Begonia maculata plant with several leaves
- Jar of water
- Shears or pruner
- Rubbing alcohol or dishwasher soap
- Terracotta pot
- High-quality potting soil
Steps to follow
- Look for a mature leaf (or leaves). Avoid using immature leaves because they are unlikely to have enough stored energy to reproduce due to inadequate chlorophyll in the leaves.
You can differentiate between mature and immature by the coloring of the leaf. Young or immature leaves are a lighter shade of green in color compared to matured leaves. The matured leaves are a darker color.
- Tip: In practice, propagation is not always successful. So it’s best to cut or prune several leaves and use them for propagation. This way, you have a higher chance of success.
- Also, look for damaged leaves among the matured leaves to prune. But if there are no damaged leaves, any matured leaf would do. The older the better though.
- After identifying the leaf (or leaves) you want to use, use a pruner or a pair of scissors to cut it off. Make sure the cutter is sterilized by swapping the blades with rubbing alcohol. You could also sterilize the cutter by washing it with dishwashing soap.
Then rinse the blades very well with clean water. This is important so you don’t transfer harmful microbes to the plants while cutting the leaves. Allow the pruner or your preferred cutter to dry before you start cutting.
- Now look for the nodes or growth points on the stem of each leaf. The nodes are where new leaves shoot off from the main stalk, they are identified by the horizontal marks on the stem.
Using the shears, cleanly cut the leaf about half an inch away from the node. You are now left with a leaf with its smooth, thin nodal stem attached underneath.
- Tip: Use a very sharp pruner, shears, or scissors to get a clean cut. A blunt cutter would mash the leaf’s stem leaving an untidy bottom part that makes propagation harder. A mashed stem also makes it more difficult for the parent plant to produce new leaves.
- Next, pop the cut leaf into your jar of water. If you are propagating using multiple leaves, use a bigger jar that can accommodate all the leaves.
And make sure only the stem is submerged in water. Each leaf should hang over the top of the jar. That is why it’s probably best to use small jars filled with water for a single leaf.
- Tips: Use filtered water because there are no chemicals that can harm the stem of the Begonia maculata leaf.
- Propagation is also faster if you use an opaque container or jar. Some people prefer a transparent jar so they can observe the developing roots. What makes opaque jar better is that the growth environment is similar to soils in terms of the absence of light. The roots tend to develop faster in a relatively darker environment.
- Place the jar with the leaf or leaves in a bright area away from direct sunlight.
- In 3-4 weeks, the roots should have sprouted and grown to about 2 or more inches
- It’s time to transplant the young begonia to a pot. Our proffered choice is a terracotta pot with drainage holes because you get better drainage and aeration with a terracotta pot.
- Tip: Wait for new roots to reach around 2 inches before transplanting. Shorter roots find it hard to survive in the soil.
- Fill the pot with your potting soil preferably one that contains 60% premium potting mix, 20% of perlite, and 20% orchid mix (equal proportions of peat moss, rockwood, charcoal, pieces of polystyrene foam, and cork is a good recipe for homemade orchid soil).
The above potting has excellent moisture retention properties, has good aeration qualities, and doesn’t allow the soil to become soggy.
- Next, create a hole that is big enough to accommodate the roots of the leaf cutting. Gently remove the leaf from the jar and bury the root in the hole you created. If the hole is too small, you can always enlarge it.
Cover the roots with the soil. Pat down the soil around the root so it stays nice and compact. This also helps the roots absorb water from the soil.
- Irrigate the plant using a small watering can or even a spray can. Try to avoid watering the leaves; so point the water stream towards the bottom of the soil. Quit irrigating when excess water starts coming out of the drainage holes.
If the terracotta pot is on a saucer, pour away the excess water from the water. Never allow the pot to sit in water as this can lead to soggy soil and ultimately root rot.
- Finally, place the pot about 4 yards away from an east or a west-facing window so it can get indirect light for growth.
Propagating Begonia Maculata in soil
The major difference between water and soil propagation is that with soil or potting mix propagation, you go straight from leaf-cutting to planting in soil.
- Use the sterilized shears or pruners to get your Begonia leaf cutting. Make sure to prune several matured leaves with the nodes intact.
- Fill your pot or planter with a similar potting mix used in water propagation.
- Plant each leaf cutting in the pot making sure the node is buried below ground level
- Water the plant as described above and place each pot near a North facing window away from direct sunlight.
Repotting Begonia Maculata
Begonias are typically rootbound and are sensitive to pot change. But you’d have to repot because your plants would surely outgrow the first pot.
To mitigate the begonia repotting stress, use a similar potting mix and a pot that is about a size up from the previous pot. Remember, the new pot must also have good drainage holes.
Care Tips for Propagated Begonia Maculata
The best growing conditions for a newly propagated angel wing begonia are similar to the matured plants in terms of water, light, temperature, soil, and nutrient requirements.
Begonias thrive excellently in moist soil. Only irrigate when the top 1 inch of the soil is dry.
Dipping a finger into the soil is the easiest way to figure out how dry or wet the soil is before deciding whether to water the soil or not.
It’s best to water the plant with a long spout watering can so you can control the direction of the water better. The primary aim is to avoid splattering the leaves with water. Water the soil only.
Begonia maculata don’t grow well when exposed to direct sunlight. Indirect light is the best for them. Keep in mind though that about 2 or 3 hours of direct sunlight would be beneficial for them if you can get it. The sticking point is avoidance of prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
In terms of location indoors, consider keeping them a few yards away from the west or east-facing window.
There is no ‘best’ temperature for your young begonia. A temperature range of between 65 – 75°F would be good for the plants. Temperatures below 50°F or above 80°F are definitely bad for them.
You want your potting mix, as described above, to remain loose so water can easily drain out. If you suspect soil compaction later, loosen the soil by carefully poking it with a stick. This helps water drainage and air circulation in the soil.
Usually, you won’t need to fertilize your begonia if you used a premium potting mix. But you can complement the soil nutrients with any plant food made with a good blend of micro and macronutrients.
You could also go down the wholly organic route with freshwater fish aquarium emulsion or worm castings in the growing season.
FAQ: Propagating Begonia Maculata
Can You Water Propagate Begonia Maculata?
Yes, and it is quite easy. All you need is your Begonia maculata with mature leaves that are ready for pruning. Using a clean pair of pruners or shears, simply prune off some leaves and dip the stems in a jar of water.
In a few weeks, roots would sprout from each cutting a. nd be ready for transplant to a potting mix. You can also propagate by directly planting the begonia leaf cuttings to a potting mix.
Can I Propagate Begonia Maculata From Leaf?
Absolutely! As long as the matured leaf cutting comes with the node intact, the begonia maculata leaf can be propagated either in a jar of water or potting soil.
How Long Does it Take to Propagate Begonia Maculata?
The length of time it takes to successfully propagate Begonia maculata from a leaf cutting depends on the medium and growing conditions.
It takes about 6 – 8 weeks to propagate in a jar of water while it takes about half that time to complete the process in potting soil.