Begonia maculata Care – The maintenance of the Polka Dot Begonia

The Polka Dot Begonia is becoming more and more of a trendy plant due to its striking dotted leaves and its many small flowers.

Here you will learn how to care for and maintain its beauty properly!

A Begonia maculata in portrait in a brown terracotta pot on a nursery table surrounded by tropical plants.
© Mangostar –

Origin of the trout begonia

The trout begonia bears the botanical name Begonia maculata. Like all begonias, it comes from the Begoniaceae family.

Initially, the heat-loving plant came from the Brazilian forests.

The beautiful flowering plant is particularly striking because of its silvery-white dots, which shimmer metallically depending on the incidence of light. That has also earned its most famous name, “trout begonia”.

The plant was first described in 1820 by the Italian botanist Giuseppe Raddi. Translated in English, it was given the name polka dot begonia, where “polka dot” stands for spotted or dotted. That is also the most popular name for the begonia. 

Appearance and characteristics of the polka dot begonia

Begonia maculata is a vigorous-growing begonia. It can grow up to three feet tall (even taller in its natural habitat) and three feet wide.

Its growth is shrubby and bushy, so it is advisable to attach the Polka Dot Begonia to a climbing stick, such as a coir stick, as it grows taller.

Its somewhat elongated downward tapering leaves are slightly wavy and have a waxy texture.

The leaves are also distinguished by their white to silvery spots on the evergreen surface of the leaf. They shine and sparkle under a particular light. The underside is dark red.

The lance-shaped, relatively large leaves look beautiful, purify your room’s air, and produce fresh oxygen by filtering pollutants and dirt particles.

The flower

The polka dot begonia produces small white to light pink leaves. These mainly appear in multitudes and then hang down in clusters on the houseplant.

The Polka Dot Begonia grows male flowers, which have stamens that fall off quickly only, and at the same time, female flowers that bear only carpels.

That is also called monoecious. However, Begonia maculata grows significantly more female flowers than male flowers.

If the site conditions of the houseplant can be optimally fulfilled, it can bloom for several months. The main flowering takes place in the period from spring to summer.

The fruit

After pollination, capsule fruits are usually formed from female flowers. These contain many tiny seeds, which are dispersed by the wind.

The optimal location for Begonia maculata

The polka-dot begonia prefers bright locations but without direct sunlight. Accordingly, morning, evening, and winter sun are ideal.

The indoor plant can only tolerate full midday sun if placed at least three feet from the window.

Due to its tropical origin, the room temperature should always be around 68 °F all year round. Consequently, it would be best if you also avoid drafts.

Concerning humidity, the trout begonia is relatively uncomplicated. It copes well with normal room air but should not be placed directly above the heater in winter.

It still helps to use a humidifier or to shower it off thoroughly to remove dust on the leaves.

Wintering the Polka Dot Begonia

The Polka Dot Begonia can get too cold in winter at temperatures below 59 °F. Accordingly, it would help if you took care to ensure warm temperatures.

The dry heating air does not bother the iridescent begonia too much. However, it would be best to keep it from a running heater.

Begonia maculata, unlike other begonia species, does not have a dormant season. However, no new leaf sprouting takes place during the dark winter.

Watering should be reduced at this time of year or adapted to the current conditions.

Fertilizing should also be paused between October and February.

It is also better to wait until spring or summer before repotting. Watering the window leaf reduced and pausing fertilizing is also recommended.

Watering the Begonia maculata

The Polka Dot Begonia is a grateful but quite thirsty houseplant. However, it does not tolerate waterlogging or dryness.

If watering is done incorrectly, this can be recognized by the following leaf or flower drop or by brown leaf tips that develop.

Regular watering helps to keep the root ball constantly moist. The soil, on the other hand, should be allowed to dry between waterings.

Depending on the location, watering should be done approximately every three days during the growing season from March to September.

In the winter, you can adjust the watering rhythm to suit the conditions.

If normal tap water is too hard and calcareous for your Begonia maculata, you should better switch to rainwater.

Different color dotted leaves of Begonia maculata
Begonia maculata can have a wide variety of shades. (Image: © Doris Gräf –

Fertilizing the polka dot begonia

To provide the Begonia maculata with sufficient nutrients, you can use any commercially available No products found..

Depending on the dosage instructions, that should be added to the watering every two to four weeks. However, only from March to September, during the growth period.

If you prefer to use slow-release fertilizers such as sticks, granules, or pellets, you should add these to your plant once in spring and once in summer.

In the first year after repotting or after purchase, there is no need to fertilize the polka dot begonia.

The perfect substrate for the Polka Dot Begonia

A loose and air-permeable humus-rich substrate is best for Begonia maculata.

You can use high-quality indoor and pot plant soil* or fine-grained soil for herbs and vegetables for planting.

However, soil that has hardly been pre-fertilized should be regularly provided with additional nutrients.

Green dotted leaves and white flowers of polka dot begonia.
Polka dot begonia forms many small white flowers. (Image: © michaelawarthen –

Repotting the Begonia maculata

Since Begonia maculata grows very quickly, you should repot it up to twice a year. Ideally, you should do this in spring or summer.

It is essential to detach the plant from its old soil during this process and plant it in fresh, new soil.

Pruning the Polka Dot Begonia

The polka dot begonia can be shortened or cut back without any problems. The more often the top leaves of the shoots are cut off, the bushier the houseplant will grow.

If the shoot tips are long enough, they can be grown directly into offshoots to propagate the Begonia maculata.

Place the scissors above a stem node to cut back the plant. Now the plant can quickly sprout again from the buds.

Woman holding polka dot begonia in a terracotta pot
Polka dot begonia can be kept in a wide variety of containers. The terracotta pot is still very popular. (Image: © CMP –

Propagating Begonia maculata

The iridescent begonia species can be propagated super easily via its head cuttings, which should be cut from the plant about ten centimeters below a leaf node.

The resulting offshoot should now be placed in a glass of water in a warm place until it forms roots and consequently can be planted.

You must change the water for growing the cutting from time to time.

A stem cutting, that is, a cutting with at least one dormant eye, you can plant directly into the substrate.

After the cutting is placed horizontally in the soil, leaves can sprout from the dormant eye, and roots will form after about 3 to 6 weeks.

Propagation boxes with a heating mat are ideal for growing stem cuttings.

Likewise, you should ensure the resulting plant is placed in light to partial shade. Only when the first leaves sprout, it needs more light.

You should also cover the propagation pot to prevent the cutting from drying out if it is not in an indoor greenhouse.

Giving a carefully measured amount of water is also essential to avoid rot or fungus.

White and yellow flowers of Begonia maculata
Begonia maculata forms flowers especially in a bright location. (Image: © fabrizio –

Diseases, pests, and care mistakes of Begonia maculata

Diseases and pests

Infestation by thrips

Silvery shimmering sucking marks on the top of the leaves can identify the tiny thrips.

You can use No products found. to control them.

Infestation by spider mites

Spider mites mainly occur when the polka dot begonia is kept in an too-dry and warm environment. Accordingly, the risk of spider mite infestation is high, especially in winter when the heating air is dry.

The small animals are primarily recognizable by the delicate webs they spin over the plant and its leaves.

To counteract the pests, you can use pesticides or natural enemies like, No products found..

Infestation by aphids

Aphids can be identified by their sticky deposits on the trout begonia’s shoots, leaves, and flowers. If the begonia is heavily infested, you can detect groups of aphids.

Natural enemies such as ladybugs, lacewings, and gall midges are suitable for control. In addition, to prevent pest reproduction, plant brews can be applied.

Care Mistakes

Cork spot

That refers to accumulations of yellowish spots on the leaves of Begonia maculata. These are caused by water accumulation, triggered by too high humidity or lack of air circulation.

In this case, it helps to ventilate the plant’s location better and ensure that affected leaves remain as dry as possible.

Powdery mildew

This term refers to the colonization of various fungi, divided into yellow and foul weather fungi or true and false mildew.

Begonia maculata is more often affected by the dry variant of the fungi.

White coatings on the upper surface of individual leaves indicate infestation.

You should remove affected parts of the plant immediately to prevent the powdery mildew from spreading to the entire houseplant.

In addition, you can apply No products found..

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Begonia maculata lose leaves?

That can be due to various reasons. The following list helps to counteract the multiple causes.
These include an unfavorable location, drafts, and temperatures below 18 degrees or above 79 °F.
Change of location or location optimization
Watering less if waterlogging occurs allows the upper layer of soil to dry out in between.
Dryness and low humidity
Moisten the environment of the houseplant with a humidifier and move the pot away from the heater.

Is the Begonia maculata rare?

Originally from Brazil, polka dot begonia is one of the relatively uncommon houseplants.
However, if you keep your eyes open, you can spot it in a garden center or two, even at a not-too-high price.

Don’t miss out!



Letzte Aktualisierung am 2023-03-24 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API

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About the author
Richard Schmidt
Hey, my name is Richard! In my spare time, I write about the care of indoor plants on this website. Indoor plants have long fascinated me. That's why there are many plants in my little urban jungle - from the mainstream Syngonium to true rarities. Besides my passion for houseplants, I'm a real sneakerhead.

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