One of the most popular and photogenic houseplants at the moment is the begonia Maculata, also known as the Polka Dot begonia or the Spotted begonia. Begonias have a reputation of being the perfect grandmother plant but that's definitely not the case with the begonia Maculata. This large angel wing-shaped houseplant with patterned leaves full of polka dots is a real eye-catcher that deserves a spot in every home.
Everything You Need to Know About the Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia Maculata)
, or Polka Dot begonia as it’s often called, is a splashy show-stopper that looks fantastic with its olive-green leaves and contrasting spots. Want to know something even better? The Polka Dot begonia is also pretty easy to care for. No green thumb is necessary to make an impression on your guests or roommates with this pretty houseplant.
How to Care for This Pretty Houseplant
The Polka Dot begonia can reach heights of up to five feet and has a vertical growth habit. Its leaves are a deep olive color with bright white and somewhat uniform spots. They are a narrow arrowhead shape and have burgundy undersides.
In the right conditions, the Polka Dot begonia will produce small flowers similar in shape to other begonia plants. They are a white rounded fan shape with a small yellow center. Begonia Maculatas are not pet safe (and can be harmful to humans if ingested, as well), but the good news is that they are air purifying.
Light Conditions and Watering
They prefer bright, indirect, or dappled sunlight, and like to stay relatively moist compared to most houseplants – let only the top half-inch or so of soil dry out. You can easily check this with your finger. But watch out for soggy roots, no plant wants those. Let the pot drain completely before putting it back on the saucer or in its cache pot.
In spring and summer, when the begonia Maculata is actively growing, and the temperatures are higher with more light, the plant will need to be watered more often. They can be a little tricky to water in the winter. Just water less and less often. The Polka Dot begonia doesn’t go dormant, but it will slow down significantly over the winter.
A Tropical Beauty
These evergreen perennials hail from the tropical forests of Brazil, so it’s no surprise they need warmth, strong filtered light, and consistent moisture. They are a fairly fast grower that can reach three feet or more, and their cascading white flowers bloom throughout the warm season.
The Key is to Keep Your Polka Dot Begonia Moist
As a cane begonia, the plant’s thick stems hold a bit of water and don’t like wet conditions. They appreciate having their topsoil dry out between waterings. Light is important, too, but the secret to begonia Maculata care is the humidity factor. Steamy environs mimic its native habitat. You don’t need to construct a greenhouse for it, but you’ll need to take some humidity measures to keep your begonia fresh and happy. No one wants a sad clown begonia.
Tip: If you have to choose between a spot for your begonia Maculata in either full sunlight or somewhere with less light, opt for the low-light spot. This plant has a better chance of thriving in partial shade.
You’ll know your maculata isn’t getting enough light by its leaves: first they lose some color, then turn yellow, and finally start to shed. The leaves will show scorched areas if they’re getting too much.
Fertilizing: The Easy Part
Even under high light, these plants are moderate feeders, so they’re easy to keep fed. The main thing is to not overdo it: you don’t want brown tips and edges on those fancy leaves. No special mix is needed, just a balanced fertilizer with equal NPK numbers. Dilute it 50% and feed them every two to four weeks when they’re growing, and cut back during the winter.
Begonia Maculatas bloom from spring to fall, producing clusters of white flowers with cheery yellow centers on a single stem. They’re more a nice accent than a feature. According to the grower of this begonia, Pligt Professionals
, you don’t usually need to help them bloom: normal fertilization and good light should do the trick.
A Great Beginner Houseplant
The Polka Dot begonia may seem picky, but once you get it settled into a good place with light and water (and away from heat and AC vents), it is relatively easy to care for. For this reason, this houseplant is suitable for beginners. Overall, this begonia is an easy-to-care-for houseplant that brings a rare pop of color and flowers into your home. Want to know more about leaf begonias? Read all about them in our article 'The 12 Best Leaf Begonia Plants That Thrive Indoors'