It doesn’t matter whether you prefer flowers or foliage: there is a Begonia type to suit every houseplant enthusiast. Collecting them all can be addictive! If you want to spread the Begonia love or just expand your own collection, you’ll be happy to know that most Begonias are super easy to propagate.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Begonia propagation and how to turn one plant into many, free of cost.
Note: Can’t be bothered to propagate or still need to start your Begonia collection? You can buy a ton of different varieties online. How about the polka dot Begonia, one of the many colorful Rexes, a beefsteak Begonia or even a spiral-leaved cultivar?
Taking a Begonia cutting
There are various ways to take a cutting from your Begonia to use as a starter for new plants. There’s the common way of snipping a piece off the plant and re-rooting that, but did you know that Begonias are among the plants that can multiply from just a piece of a single leaf?
Let’s go into the different ways to take a Begonia cutting.
- Taking a stem cutting is probably the most well-known way to propagate a houseplant. Many of the houseplant Begonias have cane-like stems that leaves sprout from.
The plant will very easily regrow from stems, so if you snip off an inch or two with some leaves attached like in the image below, you’re all set for success. It doesn’t have to be the tip of the stem: any piece of 2″ or up will work.
- Taking a leaf cutting is a technique quite unique to Begonias. To do so, just snip a healthy, large leaf at the point where it meets the leaf stem.
- Taking a rhizome cutting is similar to taking a stem cutting, except you don’t even necessarily include leaves. Rhizomatous Begonias regrow so easily that you can cut a rhizome into 2″ pieces; as long as the parts have growth nodes, they will have the capacity to grow leaves and roots.
Did you know? Some indoor gardeners have kept their heirloom Begonia alive for decades by propagating from an original mother plant!
How to propagate Begonia from cuttings
If you’ve decided to take stem cuttings from your Begonia, propagation will be an absolute breeze. My favorite method is to propagate in water, since I like the look of pretty vases with plants growing in them. There are many special propagation sets out there that make propagation beautiful!
To water propagate your Begonia, all you have to do is partially submerge the stem in water, leaving the leaves sticking out. Then, place the vase or glass containing the plant in a light and warm spot to provide the perfect growing conditions. Do avoid full sun, as water in a clear container can heat quickly and Begonias are not a fan of it anyway.
After a few days or weeks (depending on season and circumstances) your Begonia cuttings will have grown a root system and maybe even already have pushed out their first new leaves. Congrats!
Take some light but rich soil (a peat moss-based one mixed with perlite works well) to pot up the new plants and keep them lightly moist. They might be a bit cranky about the move to soil but should continue to grow after a short adjustment period.
Propagating in soil is preferred by some because it eliminates the possibility of the vulnerable mini plants having trouble adjusting to soil after having been in water.
To propagate this way, just fill a few small pots with that same light but rich soil and stick the cuttings about halfway in there. Keep the soil very lightly moist. Voilà!
You won’t be able to see whether the cuttings are rooting successfully, so for the first few weeks you might not know whether they are doing well. It’s normal for the leaves to go a bit limp while the stem attempts to push out a root system. Fear not! Once you see the first leaf growth pop up, you’ll know that your propagation attempt is a success.
How to propagate Begonia from leaf
If you’ve decided to propagate your Begonia using leaves, which is possible with most of the ones that are grown as houseplants, your easiest option is to use a plastic seedling tray. The resulting plants will be very small at first, after all.
The easiest way to go with this is to use the leaves whole. Locate the petiole: it’s the part where the leaf connects to its leaf stem. Dip that in some rooting hormone if you have it at hand.
Stick the leaf in the soil so that the petiole is covered but the rest isn’t, or alternatively pin the leaf down so the petiole touches the soil but isn’t buried. If you go for the latter, you can even make tiny cuts/nicks in each leaf vein to prompt new growth from multiple spots instead of just the petiole.
Once your leaves are all set they can be moved to a light and warm windowsill or even to a germination station (covered mini greenhouse for starting seeds). Then, simply be patient while keeping the soil lightly moist. A tiny version of the mother plant should pop up from the petiole point, drawing nutrients from both the leaf and its own small root system.
If you want to really take things to the next level, you can actually divide one single Begonia leaf into pieces that can all be used to grow new plants. This is probably a good option if the mother plant doesn’t have many leaves that you can pluck.
Take a clean knife and cut the leaf into pieces that each contain a part of vein. Then, just follow the instructions above and you should end up with plenty of new mini Begonias!
Begonia propagation from rhizome
If you decided to go for the rhizome method, prepare a seedling tray as described in the previous paragraph. All you have to do is lay the rhizome piece horizontally on the soil and give them a good push so they’re about halfway covered.
That’s it! The bottom half of the rhizome section will sprout roots while the top half will sprout new leaves, making for a whole new little plant.
Growing Begonia from seed
Begonias can be grown from seed at home and it’s a popular method to multiply some species, especially the outdoor varieties that are grown for their flowers. It can be a bit tricky, especially if the seeds you get aren’t pelleted: they are extremely tiny.
The advantage is that it’s a cheap, fun project and you might be able to get seeds for species that you would normally have trouble finding.
To start your Begonia seeds, use sterile soil in a seedling tray and simply sprinkle the seeds on top. You can lightly press them into the soil but avoid burying them. Place the tray in a humidity station to keep things warm and moist, preferably under fluorescent light. Water carefully to avoid the seeds from going everywhere; misting is probably your best option here. Be patient, as it can take quite a while for Begonias to germinate and start growing.
Because it’s so difficult to space Begonia seeds properly, you’ll have to carefully separate and transplant them once they’ve got some leaf growth.