Angel Wing Begonia

Beginner’s Guide to the Angel Wing Begonia

Angel Wing Begonia is a long established plant that is coming back into fashion because of newly grown cultivars such as Torch, Dragon Wing and Maribel Pink Shades. The species is popular because of the colorfulness of its blooms and because it is versatile in how it works well in the garden and as a houseplant.

For those who are interested in plant history or are scientifically curious it is interesting to note that Begonia "Angel Wing" is a hybrid, created first by a California plant breeder named Eva Kenworthy Gray in 1926, resulting from crossing Begonia aconitifolia and B. coccinea.

The physical appearance of the plant gives it its name as the shape of its leaves call an angel wing to mind. Angel Wing Begonia tends to grow vertically upward on one stem.  The leaves are varied in color; frequently the top of the leaf is a dark green and it has shiny silver specks. The lower side of the leaf is a rich red. The blooms can vary in color and cover everything from red to white. The color and texture of the plant make them popular as its distinctive foliage can add drama to any garden. The fact that the plant can be grown from seeds or cutting and that it does well as an in-ground and container plant has made it popular with gardeners.

As a container plant they are popular as houseplants. Gardeners with even minimal experience with begonias find them easy to care for. The Angel Wing Begonia is a tropical plant and so it seems to do best when there is a lot of light and plentiful water. There is a direct co-relation between the colorfulness of the plant and the amount of sunlight it receives. These Begonias optimally need indirect light for producing their blooms and experts recommend that bright east, south, or west facing windows which receive the morning sun or late afternoon sun are best suited for them. Sunrooms, ideally with heating, are a good location for indoor Angel Wing Begonias. It is important to note that extremely bright sun can make the leaves curl or burn and that is important to be aware of that danger. Inadequate light might mean that you have a plant that grows tall but will not produce any blooms. High humidity and good air circulation in the area where the plant is placed also contribute to a healthy blooming plant. May to October is the high blooming period for the Angel Wing Begonia.

These plants which grow to a mature height of 15 to 18 inches are most often grown pots of 6 or 8 inches. Sometimes a particularly large plant can be seen in a larger 10 or 12 inch container. Angel Wing Begonia needs moist and well-drained soil. When the plant is in one of the smaller pots it is advisable to let the soil dry about half an inch from the top in the time between waterings. With larger pots nursery growers even suggest one whole inch of dryness prior to re-watering. When watering, thoroughly cover all sides until water starts draining out of the drain holes. Also make sure that you empty the water from the drip tray to avoid the possibility of plant root rot. It is also advisable to give the plant some plant food every month when it is actively growing and to make it a bi-monthly feeding for an inactive plant.

You can trim your plant if it gets too unwieldy and use the cuttings for getting new plants. You just have to immerse the cuttings from the top of the plan in water or vermiculite and once it acquires roots, you can plant it in its own pot.

Among the problems that people growing this plant should stay aware of are some fungal diseases such as Gray Mold and Powdery Mildew; insect damage from creatures such as the Mealybug; and issues such as Botrytis and leaf spot.