Begonia rex care & info | Painted leaf Begonia

When it comes to gorgeous foliage, you can’t go wrong with Rex Begonias. These bright-leaved Begonias don’t bloom very spectacularly but are widely appreciated for their range of leaf shapes and colors. Although Begonia rex care can be a bit of a challenge to figure out, their showy foliage certainly makes them worth a try.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Begonia rex care and growing Rex Begonias in your own home. 

Name(s) (common, scientific) Rex Begonia, painted Begonia, painted-leaf Begonia, fancy-leaf Begonia, king Begonia, Begonia rex
Difficulty level Moderate
Recommended lighting Indirect
Water Water evenly
Soil type Well-draining

Rex Begonia natural habitat

This popular houseplant is naturally found in Asia.

Here, it’s part of the undergrowth in forested areas in India, China and Vietnam.

Red Begonia rex houseplant photographed from above | Full Begonia rex care guide

Begonia rex care: Light, location & temperature

Light

Rex Begonias are not too fussy when it comes to light. They’re an undergrowth species, though, so remember not to blast them with too much direct sun!

Keep them in a spot that receives bright, indirect light or under fluorescent lights.

Location

Like many houseplants, Rex Begonias appreciate a humid environment, which is not always easy to provide. Location-wise, these plants might appreciate being placed in the bathroom. The air here can be a little more humid than the rest of your home.

As further explained below, you can try a plant terrarium if you’re interested in growing these Begonias but fear the humidity in your home is on the low side.

Temperature

Rex Begonias do best in a relatively warm environment. Room temperature works well for them. In fact, can stop growing or even go dormant and drop all their leaves if temperatures drop too low (especially during fall/winter time).

This means it’s a good idea to keep this species away from chilly windows if you want it to maintain its beautiful foliage year-round.

Did you know? There are endless different cultivars of Begonia rex, all with unique leaf colors, shapes and patterns. Look for beautiful varieties like the spiral-leafed ‘Escargot’, the maroon ‘Red Robin’ or the almost shiny silver ‘Arctic Breeze’. Seriously, you can go on collecting these guys for the rest of your life and never be done!

Silver Begonia rex houseplant.

Begonia rex care: Soil & planting

Soil

When choosing soil for planting a Rex Begonia, keep in mind that these plants appreciate a very humid environment but really don’t like excess water in their planter.

This means a well-draining, looser soil type is a good idea. A regular potting soil should work just fine as a base. Adding plenty of perlite will help achieve a suitable mix and prevent things from getting too soggy.

Planting

Try going for a relatively shallow, wide pot (with a drainage hole!). This is usually recommended for Rex Begonias because their rhizome grows horizontally and needs some space. Due to their high humidity requirements, it might also be a good idea to plant them in a terrarium. Don’t worry: this can be something as simple as an old aquarium or even a large storage jar.

You can repot your Begonia rex during springtime if it has outgrown its container (when the rhizomes are starting to touch the sides of the pot).

Red Begonia rex houseplant.

Begonia rex care: Watering

Rex Begonias are known for being a little fussy when it comes to watering, which is where it goes wrong for a lot of houseplant enthusiasts. They do appreciate humidity and a certain degree of moisture but do not respond well at all to excessive amounts of water.

Watering schedules should always be based on the amount of light a plant gets, so we can’t tell you exactly how often to water. However, a good basic guideline is to wait until the top of the soil has dried out. It’s better to wait a little too long than to water too often. Never allow the soil to become soggy!

If your Begonia has lost its leaves and gone dormant, adjust your watering schedule accordingly by cutting back on both amount and frequency.

Begonia rex care: Fertilizer

You can feed Rex Begonias every two weeks or so using a diluted regular balanced houseplant fertilizer during the growing season (spring through fall).

Don’t feed houseplants during the winter months: they’re usually not actively growing. This means their roots can’t take up the fertilizer and might actually end up sustaining damage instead.

Red Begonia rex houseplant cultivar in black n ursery planter.

Propagating Begonia rex

Rex Begonias are not difficult to divide and propagate, which comes in handy as individual plants usually don’t have a very long lifespan. By dividing/propagating plants you can continue to enjoy them throughout the years.

The easiest method to turn one Rex Begonia into two (or more) Rex Begonias is by dividing the rhizome. You can do this while repotting the plant or at any other time (although it’ll be slower during winter). All you have to do is pull the rhizomes apart and repot all of them into their own containers.

Tip: Rex Begonias can also be propagated using stem and leaf cuttings. If you’d like to learn more about the various ways to multiply this species, have a look at the full Begonia propagation guide.

Buying Rex Begonia

Rex Begonias are popular houseplants and you should be able to find them in most plant stores and garden centers. Do keep in mind that with so many different cultivars they might not always be appropriately named.

You can also buy Rex Begonias online here!

Is Begonia rex toxic to cats and dogs?

The ASPCA lists Rex Begonias as toxic to both cats and dogs. Bummer! Why not check out the list of cat-safe plants instead?


If you have any more questions about Begonia rex care or if you want to share your experiences with this colorful plant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

Article photos by our Dutch sister webshop Second Green.


Marijke Puts
About Marijke Puts
Marijke Puts has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science and is from The Netherlands. She has a certified master gardener and loves everything about houseplants and gardening.

8 thoughts on “Begonia rex care & info | Painted leaf Begonia”

    • Hey! It’s very difficult to tell you more about what’s going on with a plant without being able to see it and the environment it’s growing in. I assume you’ve checked it against this article? Are you sure it’s getting enough light?

      Reply
    • Hey! It’s quite difficult to tell without seeing the plant and where it grows. Have you checked the watering guidelines in this article to make sure you’re watering correctly? If it’s summer where you are now, your Rex might be thirsty.

      Reply
    • Alright, thanks for the heads up. This is the second time I’ve seen them change a listing so I always recommend trying to find as much info as possible before getting a plant.

      Reply

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