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The Beauty of Begonia Maculata: The Polka Dot Begonia

Begonia Maculata is a rare and exotic begonia plant variety. It is Popularly known as the “polka dot plant” as a result of the polka dot pattern on Its leaves. 

Begonia Maculata
Plant Circle

The begonia Maculata leaves grow in the shape of angel wings. They have beautiful foliage that comes in olive green with silver spots on their surface and a beautiful crimson reddish underside. Their leaves grow on a bamboo-like stem and can grow up to 20cm in length. The begonia maculata plant can reach a stunning height of over one meter if provided with a trellis to climb on.

Begonia maculata origin can be traced back to the tropical rainforest of southeast Brazil. As with all plants with origin from tropical rainforests, they require a humid, warm, and well-lit environment to thrive. 

The polka dot plant can be cultivated as an indoor and outdoor plant under the right conditions. These conditions include access to bright and indirect sunlight, a warm and humid environment, and moist soil. 

Plant Overview

Scientific nameBegonia Maculata Wightii
Common namePolka dot begonia, spotted begonia, Trout begonia, Angel-winged begonia.
OriginTropical forest in Brazil.
Size39 to 59 inches (1-1.5 m) in height.
LightingBright indirect sunlight.
SoilMoist but also well-draining potting mix.
Temperature60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit ( 16 to 30 degrees Celsius). 
FertilizerBalanced Diluted organic fertilizer to be applied during watering.
ToxicityToxic if ingested.
PropagationStem cutting.

Begonia Maculata varieties

The Begonia Maculata plant has become popular in numerous households over the years. Nurseries have been able to engineer a few unique cultivars through the use of selective cultivation. Apart from the begonia Maculata wightii, the other varieties are rare and difficult to find.

Begonia Maculata “wightii”

They are at the forefront of all the begonia maculata varieties. They can be identified by the dark reddish underside of their Leaves and white flowers. The large silver dotted spots on their leaves are uniform and don’t touch their edges.

Begonia maculata “Silver Spot”

Their leaves are adorned with silver dots of varying sizes scattered across the surface with a red underside.

Begonia maculata “Flamingo Queen”

Their leaves consist of mixed dot sizes that are scattered across the surface and also extend to the edges. The color of the underside of their leaves is greenish to orange with a darkish red leaf vein. They produce pink flowers with a flamingo shade.

Begonia maculata “Annan Grace”

Their leaves showcase mixed dot sizes across the surface which can touch its edges. The undersides are green around the edges and red in the middle. They produce white flowers with a little shade of pink.

Light Requirements

The begonia maculata requires a steady supply of bright, indirect sunlight. In the tropical rainforest, huge canopies of foliage cover and protect the begonia plants from direct sunlight. Leaves exposed to direct sunlight for long develop brown patches on their foliage and also lead to them getting burnt.

The polka dot plant can also survive in lower light environments as its red color underside prevents light from going through its leaves. The red color underside allows light to be refracted back into the chlorophyll present in the leaves to be reused.

When cultivating the polka dot begonia at home, they can be placed a few meters away from the window. Plant lights can also be used in situations where windows are not available.

Soil requirements

The best soil for cultivating the spotted begonia is a potting mix that is moist and encourages draining. The potting mix should be able to retain moisture without becoming soggy. Soggy soil leads to compaction thereby limiting air flow and nutrient movement to the soil.

A good potting mix includes one part soil, one part perlite, and one part wood chip. This aids in aeration and easy drainage of excess water. Terracotta pots are good for planting maculata begonias as they aid in the movement of water and air. 

Water requirements

Watering the Polka Dot begonia can be tricky as both over watering and underwatering have adverse effects on the plant. Over watering the begonia plant can cause soil compaction, leading to root rot and other diseases. Under watering can lead to their leaves having crispy brown edges.

To get this right, the top half-inch of the soil should be allowed to dry out between watering. The moisture content level of the soil can be measured using a Moisture Meter. 

Fertilizer requirements

Just like every other household plant, The polka dot plant requires fertilizer to aid its growth. When caring for your begonia maculata, soluble organic fertilizers should be applied during the Watering process. 

Applying fertilizer should only be done during the growing season as this is when the plant is active. During the winter season, the begonia maculata goes into dormancy which is a self-preservation mode. Their roots are inactive and applying fertilizer can lead to root burn.


For a fuller polka dot begonia plant, pruning should be carried out. It is not necessary to prune, but doing it causes no real damage.

Pruning can be done by cutting the stem above the node. A node is a point where the leaves grow from. In situations where the leaves are infected, brown, or old, cut off the node holding the leaf. 

Begonia maculata can be propagated through stem cutting. The pruned off stem of the begonia plant can be propagated by planting directly into the soil or water 

Potting and Repotting

Potting the begonia maculata plant is easy. Use a well-draining potting mix thats made up of part perlite, part wood chips, part organic compost, etc. The pot should have tiny holes underneath it for draining excess water.

Repotting should be carried out annually during the spring season to prevent certain root diseases. In situations where the pot is becoming too small for the plant, transfer to a larger pot. 

Common health problems/pests and diseases

Common health problems/pests and diseases
The Home Tome

Common health problems include crispy brown edges and brown leaves caused by over / under watering and direct sunlight. Proper watering and protection against direct sunlight should solve these problems.

Common pests affecting the begonia maculata include mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, scale, and thrips. They attach themselves beneath the leaves and wreak havoc. Insecticidal soap or Neem oil should be enough to repel these pests.

Common Diseases include root rot, lead spot disease, and powdery mildew.


Begonia Maculata wightii is considered poisonous if ingested. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite are some of its effects. 

The polka dot plant should be kept away from children and pets such as dogs, cats, and mice.  If ingested in large quantities, medical attention should be sought-after immediately.


How do I propagate my begonia maculata?

The begonia maculata can be propagated through stem cutting. Use a pair of scissors to cut the stem above the node. Plant the cut-out stem either in water or a well-prepared potting mix.

Should I water my polka dot plant?

Watering the begonia maculata plant depends on the dryness of the soil. Water the plant only when the top of the soil is dry. Lay back on the watering during the winter season so as not to damage the root of the plant while it’s in dormancy.

Is begonia maculata toxic to humans?

The begonia maculata is considered poisonous to humans as it can cause nausea and vomiting when ingested. They are considered toxic to pets such as dogs and cats.

How much sunlight does my begonia maculata need?

The begonia maculata needs as much sunlight as it can get provided it’s not direct from the sun. Provide bright indirect sunlight to the plant for healthy growth and broader leaves.

How often should I fertilize my begonia maculata plant?

Fertilization can be done during watering. Add soluble organic fertilizer whenever you are watering during the growing period. During the winter season, stop fertilizer application as this will cause the root to burn during dormancy.