Botanical Name: Begonia x hybrida
Origin: The Dragon Wing Begonia originates from South America.
Height: Growing to heights of around 90 cm (3 ft), Dragon Wing Begonias also tend to spread out quite a bit, so they need to be given plenty of space.
Soil: Potting mix formulated for African Violets is ideal for this plant.
Light: Giving the Dragon Wing Begonia a sunny spot for the whole year will promote more flowers. If moved outside in summer, it should be sheltered from the heat of direct sun, especially around midday.
Humidity: Begonia x hybrida needs moderate (50 to 60 per cent) levels of relative humidity. To increase levels, a room humidifier may be used. Alternatively, the plant can be placed onto a tray filled with wet pebbles. This house plant also needs to be kept well away from any drafts, hot or cold.
Temperatures: Dragon Wing Begonias thrive in temperatures of 18 to 24 degrees C (65 to 75 degrees F), but can handle heat up to just under 38 degrees C (100 degrees F), although it is best to shield them from midday sun on hot days.
Water: The Dragon Wing Begonia's soil needs to be kept moistened, but should not become soggy.
Fertiliser: To prevent fertiliser burn, the plant should be fed with a diluted (50:50) balanced fertiliser (liquid) after it has been watered. Feeding should be done fortnightly in spring/ summer, monthly during autumn and winter.
Propagation: Dragon Wing Begonias can be propagated quite easily from 8 to 10 cm long stem tip cuttings (non-flowering) taken during spring or at the latest in the early summer months. The cuttings will root well in sterile, moist potting mix. Alternatively, seeds sown indoors during the latter half of winter will be ready for summer flowers. Raising humidity levels and using a heat mat will provide the best results.
Description and Care Tips
Like other Begonias, the Dragon Wing Begonia is easy to grow and beautiful to look at. The delightful, glossy and big wing-shaped leaves alone are a joy to behold, and in late spring/ early summer, they will be accompanied by gorgeous sprays of red, pink or white flowers.
Far less fussy with regards to humidity levels than, for example, the rex begonias, this plant is, in fact, one of the best and easiest species to grow indoors. It will, however, need quite a lot of space. Growing to heights of approximately 90 cm (3 ft), it will spread out by about as much.
This and the fact that lots of sunshine will increase its blooming power also make it a perfect and dependable plant for semi-shaded spots on patios, although being a tropical beauty, it will have to come back indoors once temperatures begin to drop at the onset of autumn.
There are only a couple of potential problems with Dragon Wing Begonias. One of these problems is over-watering. If the soil has been allowed to get soggy, the leaves of this lovely plant will turn yellow and/ or drop off. Drainage holes in the plant's container will help to prevent over-watering.
The other problem is powdery mildew. Typically appearing on stems and leaves, this white, dusty fungus is often the result of high humidity and poor air circulation. Affected leaves should be cut off and air circulation needs to be increased, although the plant must be kept away from drying AC/ heat vents. In addition, a fungicide may have to be used to treat the foliage.
As Dragon Wing Begonias tend to grow better when they are slightly pot-bound, they should only be moved to a pot that is one size larger than the old one when repotting in spring. The soil should not be packed too tightly, because the plant prefers to have a little air circulating around its fibrous roots.