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You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Begonias are catching up quickly to plants like Monsteras and Fiddle Leaf Figs as favorite house plants. This is due in large part to the Rex Begonia and the Polka Dot Begonia. This blog will cover the Rex Begonia, and you can find information about the Polka Dot Begonia in the house plant section of our website.

Rex Begonia, known to the scientific community as “Begonia rex-cultorum,” generally has large, arrowhead shaped foliage, and is a member of the Begoniaceae family. You may also hear Rex Begonia referred to as Painted-leaf Begonia or Fancy-leaf Begonia. What makes Rex extra special is that it is available as many different hybrids. Some popular varieties of Rex Begonia are the Escargot with its snail-shell-swirled coloring, Shadow King with its almost-white outer edges and darker inner leaf, and Salsa which starts in the center with a watermelon red color, has a middle the color of watermelon rind, and a rim of dark green (maybe we should rename it Watermelon Rex Begonia?).

Most commercially sold Rex Begonias are native to Eastern Asia with “roots” in Northeastern India, Southern China, and Vietnam. Most varieties of Rex Begonia will have flowers similar to garden-variety begonias – shaped like a rounded fan that opens up to display a little yellow center – but they are not avid bloomers. For this reason, they will do well with artificial light, such as a grow lamp. They can be somewhat picky when it comes to watering, and for this reason we have rated Rex Begonia as a houseplant best for those with intermediate houseplant experience. The good news is that Rex will, as with many plants both indoor and outdoor, let you know when it’s running too low on water. It gets a bit dramatic and droops its leaves to let you know it’s thirsty. To keep the drama at a low (because we all need less drama in our lives wherever possible), water Rex when the top inch or so of soil in the pot is dry to the touch. Rex does not like to have its leaves misted directly as this can lead to powdery mildew, but it would benefit from a nearby humidifier in dry climates.

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If you have your eye on a pot that’s a little more shallow than others, Rex might be a good option as a resident. Use a somewhat porous soil that will drain easily, and be sure not to overwater. Pots that have good drainage can be watered just until the water starts to run out of the bottom, but don’t let a lot of water stand in the tray (some is okay, as it will evaporate). If your pot does not have good drainage, be extra careful to not over-water as the dramatic nature of Rex will become dire if over-watered. If you don’t have a drainage hole in your pot, put down a layer of rocks in the bottom of the pot before you plant. To keep Rex in good spirits, use a moisture meter to determine the saturation level of the soil at the bottom and middle of the pot.

Rex is neither pet safe nor air cleaning, but is definitely worth it (if you can keep it away from your four-legged friends) for the rare pops of color that the many varieties of this houseplant can bring to the mostly-green indoor plant family. Place Rex where it can get plenty of bright, indirect sun, and keep it in a place that’s safe from drafts and vents, and will be at a steady temperature between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In the right conditions, Rex will grow in a mounding habit to be between 12 and 18 inches high and wide, making it a great plant for smaller spaces.

Happy Plant Parenting!


Author Nicks

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