Begonia Maculata | House Plant of the Month

Interesting green half heart-shaped leaves with silver spots and a bright red back. I am not over the fact that the spots on the leaves look very metallic. I went down a bit of a rabbit hole trying to figure out: Why do begonia maculata's have silver spots? I am surprised to say there is not a lot out there about it or I am just not using the right terms in my search. At first, I thought it was a pigment but reading further it seems the color comes more from the structure of the plant cells and it reflects light giving us the look of iridescence? That is my understanding so far. Then I thought, ok, why have these "silver/metallic/iridescent" properties in the first place? Looks like iridoplasts do a good job absorbing sunlight compared to just regular chloroplasts. That is probably why they do well in the shade or lower light areas than other plants. It also seems to be a form of camouflage. If you want to go down the same rabbit hole here is the video: Blue leaves: Investigating Plant Iridescence - Dr. Heather Whitney that I watched.


I think it gives a good idea on how to care for this plant or appreciate why it needs the kind of care it does. It thrives in shade or dappled light and likes moist soil. Mine is a little pale as I realized I needed to give it some food and repot it. The newer leaves are looking better already.


Begonia Maculata Care.

Note* this is based on my experience with it

Water Requirements: Medium (don't allow it to completely dry out it doesn't like bone dry but does not like to be soaked either. When the first 1-2 inches of soil is dry then it is a good time to water)

Light Requirements: Indirect Light/Dappled Light

Ideal Temp: Warm above 55F and humid. This one is near a humidifier but has done ok without one for a while.

Soil: Potting soil

Fertilizer: Occasional

Difficulty: Medium ( Leaves can dry out quickly if not kept watered properly)


Additional Resources:

Biodiversity and physiology of Begonia iridoplasts

Phrathep, O. (Author). 26 Nov 2020

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)