To successfully grow angel wing begonias indoors requires that you learn about its needs. Don’t be scared — the plant only looks high maintenance. In reality it’s a snap to grow these beauties indoors as long as you give them:
- Warm temperatures
- Adequate air circulation
Angel wing begonias are members of the Begoniaceae family which hail from the higher elevations of tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Although angel-wing begonias do produce flowers, the blooms face stiff competition from the plant’s attractive foliage. With pendulous flowers set against a backdrop of colorful, patterned foliage, they provide a striking focal point inside the home. The American Begonia Society (ABS) classifies angel wings as “cane begonias,” for their stems that resemble bamboo canes.
Full disclosure: I get commissions from purchases made through links in this post. I have not, however, received any products for free — all of the ones I refer you to are those that I purchase and use in my own garden.
Items needed to grow angel wing begonias indoors
- Planting pot, preferably clay or wood
- Potting soil
- Loam, optional
- Coco coir, optional
- Coarse sand, optional
- Compost, optional
- Spray bottle
- Distilled water
- 20-20-20 fertilizer
- Garden snips
- Rooting hormone powder (optional)
- Perlite (optional)
Planting the angel wing begonia
First, determine whether or not the angel wing begonia truly needs to be repotted. According to the American Begonia Society, the plant prefers to be potbound and that with more soil around the roots you run the risk of root rot. Check the rootball and if there’s still a significant amount of soil around and within it, reconsider repotting. If you do need to repot, wait until spring or summer to do so.
The American Begonia Society suggests using a clay or wood pot — something sturdier than plastic so that it won’t tip over as the plant’s roots become heavy. Fill that container with either a quality potting mix or as the Begonia Society recommends, a mixture of equal parts of loam, coir (ABS recommends peat), sand and compost. You can use peat moss as an alternative to the coir, but we don’t typically recommend it for a number of reasons (paramount among them is that coir is renewable and peat moss, harvested from bogs, takes hundreds of years to renew).
Light and temperature
Keep the angel wing begonia in an area of the home where the temperature consistently remains between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid placing it where it will be subjected to drafts or blasts of heat from a furnace.
Provide the angel wing begonia with at least 6 hours of sunshine per day. Direct sun is ideal, as long as it isn’t too hot.
Water and fertilizer
Allow the surface of the planting medium to dry to the touch before watering the begonia with distilled water. The angel wing doesn’t tolerate soggy roots, so allow the pot to drain completely before placing it back on the saucer. If the begonia’s leaves turn yellow and drop, allow the soil to dry out more before watering.
Apply 20-20-20 houseplant fertilizer at half the strength recommended on the fertilizer label, monthly from April to October. Discontinue fertilizing the begonia when it isn’t actively growing, such as in the winter.
Spray the begonia with distilled water daily if the edges of the leaves turn brown – a sign of inadequate humidity.
Pinching and Pruning
Pinch the pointed tips of growing canes periodically throughout the growing season. Tip-pinching keeps the plant from growing “leggy,” and prompts it to produce new canes.
Prune the angel wing begonia in winter by removing old canes. We love our snips for this job (you can buy an amazing pair of snips quite inexpensively online, here), but you may need pruning shears for mature, larger begonias. Cut the green canes in a staggered pattern, to four nodes on half of them and five nodes on the remaining canes. Don’t cut any green canes with fewer than four nodes.
Pruned tips that contain at least four nodes can be used to create new angel wing begonia plants. Dip the bottom of the cane into water and then roll it in rooting hormone powder. Stick the tip into a pot of perlite. Place the cutting in indirect sun and keep the perlite moist until you see new growth, then care for it as you do the older begonia.