Begonias have wonderful blooms and exotic heart-shaped leaves, which often display a striking red underside with darker, vein-colored markings.
They have a magnificent ability to reproduce from leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, and even root divisions. Moreover, many begonias survive in outdoor gardens and parks in the summer months, and blooms last until the arrival of the first frosts.1
Indoors, some varieties bloom from winter to spring while the summer flowering ones take over from June through to September.
Caring for begonias indoors requires management of watering, humidity, and soil, as well as temperature. These beauties love sunshine and some are used to equatorial rainforest conditions, where the light is dappled and indirect on the forest floor filtered by the leaves of overhead trees.
This is the kind of environment indoors in which your begonia will thrive. It needs sunlight, warmth, no cold drafts, and some humidity.
Read on for how to care for all your begonias including the rarer types of begonias, such as the Julau varieties.
How Do You Care for Begonias Indoors?
Caring for Begonias indoors isn’t difficult, even for beginners. Just follow these tips and watch your new plan thrive!
Begonias thrive when the temperature is stable; it should never be less than 55ºF (12.7ºC) and preferably above 70ºF (21ºC). Avoid really cold nights and ensure that these plants are not in cold drafts indoors, when the heating goes off at night time.
Note that some growers insist that lowering the temperature slightly will cause the plant to flower so if yours is snug and comfortable with no flowers, maybe try this.
Begonias need indirect, filtered sunlight. Without enough sunshine, these plants often drop leaves as a visual sign to let you know that something is wrong!
Begonias need regular weekly watering to produce healthy foliage and flowers. Make sure you water the whole root ball thoroughly and generously until you notice water leaving the pot.
Drain away the excess so that your plant is not sitting with wet roots. Water as the soil starts to dry out because these plants like moist soil.
Maintain humidity at least 40% and preferably higher. Use a humidifier if necessary especially when the winter heating turns on.
Pick rich soil which drains well. The soil should be moist. Many growers recommend coir which adds bulk and nutrients and aids drainage.
How Often Do Begonias Need to be Watered?
The key to watering this plant is to remember its native conditions. They originate in warm, steamy environments like the Equatorial rainforest. Rainstorms happen and spill a lot of rain, which dries away quickly when the sun comes back out.
For these reasons, a terrarium is ideal for watering rarer types of begonia, such as Begonia Julau. It’s made of glass but open-topped, which allows moisture to remain in the immediate environment. Keep reading about terrarium begonias below.
How Do You Care for Begonia Hydrocotylifolia?
The gorgeous dark-green leaves and pink blooms of Begonia Hydrocotylifolia can grow happily outdoors in hot conditions but they like to grow on a sunny window in filtered light when grown indoors.
These plants enjoy the shade when the sun is at its brightest in summer although they will tolerate some winter direct sunshine.
- Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water them more in summer when it is hot and less in winter when they do not require so much. Hydrocotylifolia plants benefit from a humid atmosphere and you can aid this by adding a good layer of mulch to the top of the soil. This helps to prevent moisture from evaporating which the plant will enjoy.
- Propagation. They quickly outgrow their pots so carefully snip off the growing tips and use these to propagate new plants.
- Keep the temperature stable. And if your plant gets leggy, pinch out the tips or make cuttings from leaves and stems. The creeping rhizome root always tries to escape the pot so this will solve your presents during the festive season when it flowers.
Their flowers will delight you, blooming bright pink in winter and spring to delight your eye when there is so little color in the garden!
How Big Will My Begonia Julau Grow?
Expect your plant to reach a maximum of 14″ (35.5 cm) tall indoors in ideal conditions.
- Begonia Julau Type 1 is slightly smaller than Julau Type 2. Type 1 has delicate leaves, almost completely edged with pink decorative stripes. Also known as the Butterfly Begonia or the Angel Wing Begonia because of the shape of its leaves. Two leaves arch away from the stem-like wings. They are also pointed and wider than Type 2 although the whole plant is more compact.
- Begonia Julau Type 2 has a tall central stem and the leaves radiate almost horizontally from this base. The leaves are long and pointed with rectangular pinkish strips, which seem more random than Type 1. The shade of pink is slightly darker than Type 1 too.
Both types are notoriously hard to propagate and for this reason, they sell at very high prices on Reddit and Etsy. When purchased as cuttings they will be approximately 4 – 6” (10 – 15 cm).
Does Begonia Julau Need humidity?
40% humidity (or higher) is what Begonia Julau really needs to thrive.
Julau comes from the Sarawak district in Malaysia where it grows freely on the rainforest floor wherever enough sunshine penetrates. This is a rare begonia that craves this humid atmosphere found in forests after rain showers.
As water evaporates under cover from tree branches overhead, Begonia Julau has warmth, humidity, and shaded sunlight combined with moist soil, which isn’t waterlogged.
Without proper humidity, Begonia Julau tends to drop its leaves and the whole plant wilts so ensure you check the humidity of the room in which you place it.
Does Begonia Julau Grow Well in a Terrarium?
A terrarium is perfect for Begonia Julau! It provides high humidity, a stable temperature, protection from drafts, and also preserves any available water.
Think of the forest ground cover level where it rains frequently and the hot sun creates humid, drying conditions as water evaporates.
For these reasons, a terrarium is ideal for planting Begonia Julau. It’s made of glass but open-topped, which allows moisture to remain in the immediate environment.
You need to be very careful not to let the roots sit in wet conditions though. Make sure you apply pebbles and a layer of activated charcoal for good drainage.
Both Julau Type 1 and Type 2 will also enjoy artificial lighting if you place them in a terrarium. This will provide moist conditions and decent lighting so your Begonia Julau will thrive.
Begonia Julau Type 2 Care
The care for Type 2 is almost exactly the same as for Type 1.
However, this plant can get quite top-heavy as the central stem grows tall searching for light, like a bamboo pole.
Try to add a stake for support when you plant it first and when you re-pot it. It’s a good idea to give it a sturdy, heavy pot perhaps with pebbles in the bottom for both stability and to increase the humidity the Julau loves.
Try to remove any wilting leaves because pests tend to target older leaves.
Which Diseases Affect Begonias?
Bacterial leaf spots affect begonias the most. Sometimes begonias suffer from blisters on their leaves which are a sign that your plant may have this disease.
If you understand that the disease flourishes in humid conditions and can spread easily, then it’s time to sterilize the pruning shears and get cutting!
- Cut any infected leaves off and discard them.
- Ensure you clean the blade after each cut to avoid spreading disease.
- If the stem becomes infected, the whole plant may wilt and die so after removal of leaves, cut off all stems affected too,
- Then re-pot immediately in fresh, dry soil and do not water for a few days to allow recovery.