Angel Wing Begonia Care Guide
Also called the Wightii, Clown, Spotted or Polka Dot Begonia, the Begonia maculata 'Angel Wing' is a 'wow' plant. You might have heard people call them "definitely not your grandma's begonia" and you can see why. A real stand-out in the Begonia family with her stunning, almost iridescent, silvery-white spots on deep olive green leaves.
At first she seems so delicate with those big thin leaves, but our first Begonia Angel Wing surprised us with being super easy care, and we were hooked, with many more added to the collection since. We give her a 2 out of 5 LTLC Rating. Easy care with a few considerations. Bonus of sweet little round pink, peach, orange or white flowers too. Keep reading for the full care guide...
Temperature & Light
Bright, indirect light is ideal but lower light levels can be better (depending on what 'bright' means at your place). Our girls get better variegation in medium light, but grow faster in brighter light. If you have the option of both, our vote goes for medium light to encourage those dramatic spots!
Warmth is appreciated by these girls. About 18 to 30 degrees is a nice temperature range for the Angel Wing. She'll handle lower temperatures indoors over winter provided the rest of the conditions are ideal.
These girls are fast growers and will happily drink everything you give them (within reason), so keep the soil consistently moist in summer, and lightly moist in winter. No wet feet please. When watering, let the pot drain till there are no drips coming out, before returning her to her cover pot or saucer. Let the top cm or two of soil dry out between watering, just don't let her get completely dry.
These gorgeous girls don't really go dormant as such over winter, they just grow more slowly. We water weekly both in winter and summer, lightly in winter, a full drench in summer. Just judge it based on her soil. We save the fertiliser for the warmer months only when she's putting out leaves, but if you do water weekly and use Groconut or similar, we'd recommend a half dose. Over-watering is a big no for these girls. They will thrive with a bit of humidity, especially in winter (even more so if you have a fireplace or heat pump going, or an HRV / DVS system).
Give the Angel Wing Begonia a relatively free draining soil. We use about 3/4 potting mix and 1/4 perlite or similar.
Angel Wing Begonia pro tips & problem solving
We find medium light levels get better variegation than too bright, which can make those spots more pale for some.
Dry, brown tips
A typical sign of under-watering. She's thirsty! Give your Angel Wing a good drink. Existing brown tips may not recover but new growth should come through happy and healthy and the existing tip damage shouldn't get worse. We trim the brown tips off but up to you on that.
The Angel Wing's stems should be firm. If you notice them drooping down, that's a sign she's thirsty. Check that soil and give her a good drink.
Pro tip: In a rush? Can't leave tap water to sit overnight before you water? Boil the water, let it cool, and water right away (boiling water is the fastest way to remove chlorine, 5 to 10 minutes boiling is plenty to treat right up to 40 litres).
Like with most plants, provided it wasn't an old leaf anyway, yellowing leaves is a common sign of over-watering. Let those roots dry out. The already yellow leaves probably won't recover so we normally take them off so the plant's energy goes in to the healthy leaves.
Don't hide her in the dark or you'll let leggy growth, usually a sign she's not getting enough light. If you regularly pinch back you'll get a fuller, bushier plant also. New stems will grow from where you prune. Plus they're easy to propagate too so don't throw out those pruned-off stems! We find Begonia leaves with stems will root in water, not as good as having a node, but doable.
These girls should produce sweet little white, peach or pink flowers regularly in the warmer months (our one in these photos gives us pastel pink flowers). If yours hasn't flowered but is putting out new leaves, she may need a fertiliser boost. A good fortnightly drench with a liquid fertiliser like Groconut in the warmer months should do the job. When she does flower, remove old flowers so she puts her energy in to new ones. Angel Wing Begina flowers don't have a scent that we've noticed, but they are such unique, pretty little flowers.
Is the Angel Wing Begonia pet safe?
Unfortunately that's a no. Begonia are toxic to pets, and the Angel Wing is not an exception. It's rare for it to be serious, but pets could get sick from chomping on your Angel Wing, so best placed out of the reach of pets.
How to propagate the Angel Wing Begonia
We've found them super easy to propagate. Take a stem cutting (with one or two nodes) and pop in water covering the nodes. You need at least one leaf to get energy to produce new roots. You can prop straight in to soil if it's a warm time of year but it makes it harder to know when those precious roots have formed enough to pot up.
Pro tip: Plant rooted stem cuttings back in to the mother plant to create a much bushier effect.
LTLC Rating (Love That Leaf Care Rating)
We give the Angel Wing Begonia a 2 out of 5 LTLC Rating. Definitely easy care, so don't be put off, but not ideal if you're not the best at consistent watering. Check on her weekly though and you should be treated to healthy, spotted leaves all year-round.
In our totally-made-up-based-on-our-own-experience LTLC Rating scale, we give a Boston Fern or String of Pearls a 5 (such a love hate relationship with SoP), a ZZ Plant and a Peace Lily would get a 1.