The Polka Dot Begonia: Too Cute to Be Real?

Yes, the polka dot begonia is real, and it's also an ideal indoor houseplant. Here's why.


Anastasiia Tretiak

Botanically known as Begonia Maculata, this strikingly gorgeous houseplant features unique silver spots on bright green leaves with red undersides. The Polka Dot Begonia is one of the most popular plants in Costa Farm's Trending Tropical collection due to its fresh and fun variegation. Think all the fun of an eye-catching indoor flowering plant, but without the big blooms.


Anastasiia Tretiak

"Personally, I think seeing the polka dot pattern rise up in home design also helped," says Justin Hancock, brand marketing manager at Costa Farms. "It fits in perfectly with some of the trendy millennial design themes." It's also relatively easy to care for them.

If you've been thinking about adding this popular plant to your collection, here's everything you need to know about Begonia Maculata care, from how big it can get to how to propagate your plant.

What Is the Polka Dot Begonia?

The Polka Dot Begonia is a cane begonia that's also known as an "Angel Wing" begonia due to its bamboo-like stems and long leaves resembling wings. It's pretty easy to grow compared to Rex and some of the other non-Cane begonias.

"My favorite thing about it is how overall tolerant it is," says Hancock. "It's pretty forgiving when it's in a warm, bright spot with average or above-average humidity." In addition to stunning foliage, the Polka Dot plant produces clusters of white flowers with yellow centers on a single stem. Flowering typically occurs during the spring and summer months.

Polka Dot Begonia Indoor Care

With the right growing conditions, Begonia Maculata is an excellent houseplant. "If you're new to plant parenting and feel good about giving the plant the light and water it needs, it's a fine starter plant," says Hancock. Once you address all of its needs, the Polka Dot Begonia will wow you and your visitors. Here's what Begonia Maculata needs to thrive:


Plant Begonia Maculata in loose, well-draining soil. A generic house planting mix should work well. If it seems too heavy, you can loosen the soil with some perlite.


The Polka Dot Begonia prefers a home with limited bright light. Too much direct sunlight will cause its leaf tips to brown and its color to fade. It does like bright, indirect light but will survive in less bright locations.


Make the Polka Dot plant happy by keeping the soil moderately moist. However, soggy soil is a no-go. "Like any houseplant, Begonia Maculata will suffer root rot if it's overwatered," Hancock warns. To determine its moisture level, check the soil every few days by sticking your index finger into the soil about one inch or so. If the soil is dry, water it until it runs through the bottom of the pot.

Temperature and Humidity

This tropical plant needs mild temperatures and high humidity. Temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. A humidity level greater than 45 percent will help prevent the leaves from drying out. If your home is dry, especially during the winter, place the plant on a pebble tray with water or use a humidifier.


To get great-looking foliage and flowers, feed the Begonia Maculata with a basic houseplant fertilizer during the spring and summer every other time you water the plant. During the fall and winter months, you do not need to fertilize.


Pruning Tips

"Something that's really fun—and surprising to many—is that over time, this can grow into a big plant. I've seen healthy Begonia Maculata specimens that have topped 5 feet tall," says Hancock. He recommends pruning if the plant starts to get taller than you'd like or feels lanky because it wants more light. "Cut the stems back to encourage side shoots that give it a fuller, lusher look," he suggests.

Common Problems to Avoid

The Polka Dot Begonia has the same common issues that most houseplants experience.

  • Brown leaf tips/edges: Hancock says this can occur if the plant dries out too much, the air is a bit too arid, or it gets too much fertilizer.
  • Powdery mildew: "This may be a problem if the begonia is kept in a spot that's dimmer and cooler than it likes," says Hancock.
  • Root rot: Begonia Maculata will suffer root rot if it's overwatered.
  • Draft-sensitivity: Because of its thin leaves, Begonia Maculata also can suffer if it's exposed to air noticeably warmer or cooler than the ambient temperature. "So keep it away from heating and cooling vents," says Hancock. "And avoid placing it near exterior doors, especially in cold-climate areas during the winter."

Polka Dot Begonia Propagation

Creating a new Begonia Maculata is easy. The plant propagates by placing stem cuttings in water. Take a 4-inch cutting from a healthy stem. Put the cutting in a glass of water and place it in a window sill or area that receives bright, indirect light. Top off the water as needed. Roots should appear in four to six weeks. After the cutting has rooted, pot the cutting in soil and allow it to grow until it's established.

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