How to keep your Polka dot Begonia alive
Words by Georgie Sinclair
Illustrations by Elena Boils
Latin Name: Begonia Maculata ‘Wightii’
Nickname: Polka dot Begonia
Native to: Brazil
Spotted in: Christian Louboutin’s bathroom
Life Cycle: Perennial
Soil: Neutral pH, sand/loam
Special Feature: Resistant to plant-predators
Your permanent plant A-lister
Spots might not be a characteristic desired by humans, but they’re an absolute must-have in the plant kingdom. With its unique white-dotted upper leaf and scarlet red underleaf, the Polka dot Begonia has earned itself permanent A-lister status. Rumour has it that Christian Louboutin took inspiration from the Begonia for his trademark red-heeled shoes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that this plant is a demanding little creature and requires specialist attention. On the upside, if you treat her well you will be rewarded up to three times a year with beautiful red or white blooms, and she’ll grow up to a height of two metres.
Expect flowers in the Spring
Every season is show season for the Polka dot Begonia, but you should expect her to flower in Spring or in late Winter. If you want to give yours a prune it would be best to do so in the Spring. But as they grow so fast a trip to the hairdressers will not go amiss whatever the weather.
How much sun does it need?
The Begonia needs sunlight but she will react very badly if you leave her to frazzle in the afternoon sun. She’ll be at her best lounging on a windowsill facing a north or easterly direction.
This might be a tall order for those living in Europe’s temperate climate, but if you can, try to mimic Brazilian weather conditions. You can do this easily by keeping your Begonia in the bathroom. If you’d rather not keep her there, then keep her close to your other plants. This will naturally increase humidity levels. Spray the air around her, but NOT directly on her leaves. The soil should be moist, but do not drown the poor soul. The Begonia family are particularly susceptible to rot, and overwatering could lead to a nasty death. You can prevent this by ensuring your plant is potted in a container with drainage so water does not collect in the bottom.
Hot or Cold
Maintain a room temperature of 18 – 22 C.