Painted Leaf Begonia Care: Tips For Growing Rex Begonia

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You have a passion for gardening and the painted leaf begonia plant is one of your favorites. Its leaves are known to have a metallic or iridescent glow. Not only are these plants visually stunning, but they’re also relatively easy to care for. However, to ensure that your painted leaf begonias remain healthy and vibrant, you need to provide the right care.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about painted leaf begonia care.

This guide is designed to help you maintain your painted leaf begonia plants in tip-top shape.

Understanding Painted Leaf Begonias

Painted leaf begonia

If you’re looking for a unique and visually striking addition to your garden or indoor plant collection, painted leaf begonias are an excellent choice. With their vibrant colors and distinct patterns, painted leaf begonias are sure to impress.

Painted leaf begonias, also known as Rex Begonia, are a type of begonia plant that is prized for its colorful foliage, rather than its flowers.

These plants typically grow to be about 12-24 inches tall and wide, and they do well in both indoor and outdoor environments.

One of the reasons rex begonias are so popular is because of the wide array of color combinations and patterns available.

Some varieties have leaves with vibrant reds, pinks, and oranges, while others have more muted shades of green and bronze.

No matter what your personal preference is, there’s a painted leaf begonia that fits your style.

RELATED: How To Grow And Care For Begonia Maculata – Polka Dot Begonia

Tips for Growing Painted Leaf Begonias

  • Painted leaf begonias prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. If you’re planting your begonia in a pot, make sure it has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.
  • When planting painted leaf begonias, it’s important to give them plenty of room to grow. Space them at least 12 inches apart to prevent overcrowding.
  • Painted leaf begonias thrive in environments with moderate temperatures and humidity levels. Aim to keep your plant in an area with temperatures between 65-75°F and humidity levels around 50-60%.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to successfully growing rex begonias.

Choosing the Right Location

One of the most important factors in caring for your rex begonias is choosing the right location. When selecting a location, it is essential to consider the natural habitat of the plant to ensure the right environment is provided.

If you are planting your rex begonias outdoors, it is important to select a spot that is shaded or receives filtered sunlight. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and damage the plant. Avoid areas that are exposed to strong winds as it can cause the delicate leaves to wilt.

If you are growing your painted leaf begonias indoors, place them in a room with bright but indirect sunlight. They need at least six hours of sunlight each day, but avoid the direct rays of the sun. If the leaves receive too much direct sunlight, they can become damaged and lose their vibrant color.

The temperature is another essential factor in providing optimal growing conditions for painted leaf begonias. They prefer temperatures ranging from 60°F to 75°F. However, they can tolerate slightly warmer temperatures if humidity is high, and the soil remains moist.

When growing your rex begonias indoors, it is crucial to provide adequate humidity levels. You can achieve this by placing a tray of water near the plants or using a humidifier. Ensure that the container is not touching the water to avoid waterlogging.

Watering and Humidity Requirements


The frequency of watering your painted leaf begonia depends on various factors such as the pot size, humidity levels, and the season. As a general rule, water your plant once the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

When watering your painted leaf begonia, ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Too much water can cause the roots to rot, while insufficient water can lead to wilting and stunted growth.

It’s also essential to water the plant at the base, avoiding getting water on the leaves as this can cause leaf spotting and fungal diseases.

During the winter months, you may need to reduce watering as the plant’s growth slows down. On the other hand, during hot summer months, you may need to water more frequently to ensure the soil stays moist.


Rex begonias thrive in environments with high humidity levels. If the air is too dry, the leaves may start to wilt, and the plant may drop its leaves.

To maintain adequate humidity, you can use a humidifier, place a tray of water near the plant, or mist the leaves regularly.

If you’re growing your painted leaf begonia indoors, you can also group it together with other plants, which can help create a microclimate with higher humidity levels.

It’s also essential to avoid exposing the plant to sudden changes in temperature or air currents, as this can cause the leaves to dry out and drop.

Ensuring Proper Lighting

Rex Begonia

Proper lighting is critical for painted leaf begonias to thrive. These plants require bright, indirect sunlight to maintain their vibrant colors and healthy foliage. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause damage.

When you’re growing painted leaf begonias indoors, place them near a north or east-facing window where they can receive adequate sunlight without being directly exposed to the sun’s rays.

Should there not be enough natural light available, consider supplementing with artificial light sources such as fluorescent or LED grow lights.

If you’re growing painted leaf begonias outdoors, try to find a spot that receives bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day. If the area gets too much direct sun, consider providing shade using a sheer curtain or a shade cloth.

Fertilizer and Pruning Tips


Rex begonias benefit from regular fertilization during their growing season, which typically runs from spring to fall.

Be sure to use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20 formula, every two to four weeks. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and application rates, and be sure to water the plant thoroughly after fertilization.

It’s also important to avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excess salt buildup in the soil and subsequent root damage.

If you notice the plant’s foliage turning brown or wilting, it may be a sign of fertilizer burn. In this case, flush the soil with water to dilute the excess salts and adjust your fertilization schedule accordingly.


Pruning is beneficial for maintaining the shape of your rex begonia and keeping it looking tidy. It’s also important for encouraging new growth and preventing the plant from becoming overgrown.

Here are some tips for successful pruning:

  • Timing: The best time to prune your painted leaf begonia is in early spring, just before the growing season begins. This will promote new growth and help maintain the plant’s shape.
  • Tools: Use sharp, clean pruning shears to make clean cuts and avoid damaging the plant. Sterilize your tools with rubbing alcohol before and after use to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Technique: Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased leaves and stems, making sure to cut back to healthy tissue. You can also pinch or trim back the tips of the plant’s branches to encourage bushy growth.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases

While rex begonias are relatively low maintenance, they are not immune to pests and diseases. It is important to regularly inspect them for signs of infestation or illness, as early intervention can prevent further damage.

Common pests that may affect painted leaf begonias include spider mites, whiteflies, and mealybugs.

To prevent infestations, keep the surrounding area clean and free of debris, as pests are attracted to decaying matter. In addition, avoid over-watering your plants, as this encourages the growth of mold and fungus, which can attract pests.

Spider MitesYellowing leaves with fine webbing, tiny brown specks on leavesApply insecticidal soap or neem oil
WhitefliesYellowing leaves with sticky residue, whiteflies visible on underside of leavesApply insecticidal soap or neem oil
MealybugsWhite, cottony clusters on leaves or stems, sticky residue on leavesApply rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab or horticultural oil

Diseases that may affect painted leaf begonias include powdery mildew, root and stem rot, and bacterial leaf spot.

To prevent diseases, avoid over-watering and ensure proper drainage, as excess moisture can encourage fungal growth. Maintain good air circulation around your plants to prevent stagnant air and mold growth.

Powdery MildewWhite powdery coating on leaves and stemsApply fungicide or neem oil, increase air circulation
Root and Stem RotYellowing leaves, soft and mushy stems or rootsRemove affected plant parts, adjust watering schedule and soil drainage
Bacterial Leaf SpotWater-soaked spots on leaves that turn brown or yellowRemove affected plant parts, apply bactericide, maintain good air circulation

Propagation Techniques

Painted leaf begonias can be propagated through various methods, including leaf cuttings and division. Propagation is an excellent way to expand your collection or share your plants with others.

Leaf Cuttings

Leaf cuttings are a straightforward and effective method of propagating rex begonias.

To begin, select a healthy and mature leaf from the plant, and cut it at the base where it meets the stem.

Dip the cut end into rooting hormone to encourage root growth and plant the leaf in a pot filled with potting mix.

Keep the soil moist and warm, and within a few weeks, you should see roots and new growth emerging from the leaf.

Once the new plant is large enough, gently remove it from the pot and repot it in a slightly larger container.


Division is another method that can be used to propagate rex begonias.

This technique is best suited for mature plants that have outgrown their containers or need to be repotted.

To begin, carefully remove the plant from its current pot and gently separate the root ball into two or more sections.

Each section should have a healthy root system and a sufficient amount of foliage. Repot each section into an appropriately sized container, using fresh potting mix, and water thoroughly.

By following these steps, you can produce healthy and thriving painted leaf begonias for years to come.


How often should I water painted leaf begonias?

Painted leaf begonias should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry. The frequency of watering will depend on factors such as temperature, humidity, and the size of the pot. It is important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot, and underwatering, which can cause the leaves to wilt.

What lighting conditions do painted leaf begonias prefer?

Painted leaf begonias thrive in bright, indirect light. They should be placed in a location where they receive bright, filtered light for a few hours each day. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves.

How often should I fertilize painted leaf begonias?

Painted leaf begonias benefit from regular fertilization during the growing season. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer can be applied every 4-6 weeks. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the correct dilution ratio.

What are common pests and diseases that can affect painted leaf begonias?

Common pests that can affect painted leaf begonias include aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Diseases such as powdery mildew and botrytis can also occur. Regular inspection of the plants and prompt treatment with appropriate pest control methods or fungicides can help prevent and address these issues.

How can I propagate painted leaf begonias?

Painted leaf begonias can be propagated through leaf cuttings or division. Leaf cuttings involve taking a healthy leaf with the petiole attached and placing it in a moist, well-draining medium until roots develop. Division can be done by carefully separating the plant into smaller sections, making sure each section has its own root system.

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