Are you looking for an easy to care, long-living Begonia with beautiful flowers and some beef? Yes, this plant will give you beef regularly! (Just kidding). Beefsteak Begonia proudly stands as one of the oldest and widely grown Begonia. The glossy and fleshy rounded leaves are olive-green from top and burgundy underneath. These leaves have a prominent star-shaped venation and look like tiny umbrellas grow on hairy stems. The foliage gets covered with beautiful tiny pink scented flowers making it look nothing less than an eye-candy.
This is pretty popular for indoor decoration. However, you can grow it in non-frost outdoor regions as well. Interestingly, this plant has an exceptionally long life and you can even get it as a legacy from your grandma!! Interesting? Let us learn more about the B.erythrophylla plant along with its care and propagation.
Beefsteak Begonia Classification
Hybrid/ species: B.erythrophylla.
Begonia stands among the largest flowering genera, comprising of more than 1,800 species. These perennial flowering plants belong to the tropical and subtropical regions of America, Africa and South Asia. Begonias are diverse plants with both indoor and outdoor plants. You can find a variety of indoor plant suitable for cooler atmospheres. Alternatively, others are adapted to living outdoors requiring bright light. Moreover, you can even find plant varieties which go well along with both indoor and outdoor environments.
Flowers of these plants are usually unisexual with male and female species. Members of this genus are commonly hybridized and cultivated to form a diverse collection. Importantly, this genus is yet not described completely with still a large number of unknown species.
Beefsteak Begonia History and Parentage
This plant has two popular opinions about its introduction.
According to one school of thought, it gracefully stands among the oldest Begonia hybrids still cultivated. It was after the year 1845 when Warscewics successfully crossed two begonias in Germany to get this round-leaf plant. The parents of the plant were:
• B. manicata
• B. hydrocotylifolia
According to another opinion, this plant was introduced and named in 1670 by C.Plumier. He probably named it to tribute his sponsor Michel Begon.
Beefsteak Begonia Common Names and Synonyms
- Swamp Lily Begonia.
- Pond Lily Begonia.
- Kidney Begonia.
- Begonia bunchii. (Synonym)
Why is it called Beefsteak Plant?
The name Beefsteak is another common name. This is given in reference to the thick, glossy and fleshy leaves of the plant. These leaves look somewhat like a beefsteak. Thus, the plant gets this interesting common name.
Features of Beefsteak Begonia Plant
Height and Structure
- An average mature plant is around 6 to 20 inches in height.
- The plant trails along the soil surface with a succulent rhizome.
- The leaves are almost orbicular and peltate growing on long stalks. Thus, giving the plant an umbrella-like appearance.
- Diameter of a mature leaf is around 2 inches.
- The Beefsteak Begonia Flowers are beautiful and a treat to the eye. These are light pink to pale-white in color. Moreover, each one has around 3 to 4 circular petals.
- The flowers are showy, scented and around 2 inches in size.
- The plant blooms repeatedly in different seasons, commonly in spring and mid to late winter.
Your Beefsteak is a fast-growing plant.
Apart from the beauty, this plant will provide you with the additional benefit of air purification.
The Beefsteak Begonia Flowers are a source to attract the insects like butterflies and honeybees.
Is the Begonia safe for my pets and kids? Unfortunately, No! ASPCA adds them in the list of toxic plants. Keep your babies and pets away from the plant.
BeefSteek Begonia Care
How to take care of my Begonia erythrophylla? This is a common question. So, just relax folks! This is an easy to care plant.
Erythrophylla needs water in medium quantity, just like its siblings. Water the plant after the substrate gets completely dry. You can make a schedule to water about twice or thrice a week in summer. While two to three times in two weeks will be enough for the cooler days. Avoid over-watering the succulent rhizome. Moreover, never keep the foliage wet for long. This will save your plant from fungus and root rot.
Bright Indirect light is ideal for this plant. If you are planting it outdoor, select a well-lit shady corner. Importantly, keep your plant away from direct exposure of sunlight. The intense sun can scorch the delicate Beefsteak leaves.
The plant can do fairly well in a temperature range of 45 to 85 °F. This plant is not frost hardy. Thus, make sure you shift the indoor ones to warm areas before the snowfalls.
These plants can survive in a vast range of humidity. Howbeit, good humidity levels (60 to 80% will result in fairly lush foliage. Consider light misting in considerably dry and hotter days. But, avoid heavy-misting and don’t keep the plant wet for long hours.
Soil and Substrate Requirements
Just like other Begonias, the plant needs rich and well-drained soil or substrate. Ordinary peat mix, sterile pot mix or common houseplant mix will go well along. Moreover, it should be preferably mildly acidic to neutral (PH 6.1 to 7.5).
The pond lily Begonia will love some added nutrients. You can get an ordinary houseplant or NPK fertilizer and follow the directions on the pack. I usually suggest diluting the fertilizer and using half of the quantity suggested on pack. In spring and summer, you can fertilize every month. Howbeit, the plant will like to consume any added nutrition in fall and winter.
If you feel that the plant is getting little over-grown appearance, feel free to prune your Beefsteak plant. You have to prune the leggy stem which has removed its leaf.
The rhizome is bulky and usually ‘swells’ out of the pot. According to my experience, a potted plant may need repotting to a larger pot after about two years.
Optimal USDA zones are 6 to 11.
Beefsteak Begonia Propagation
Common methods used to propagate this plant include;
- Root-ball division.
- Herbaceous stem-cuttings.
Propagation by Stem-Cuttings
This is an easy method to propagate the plant.
- Simply, take a sharp knife to cut 5 to 7 inches stem tip cutting. Ideal days are the spring or summer season. Cut the stem just below the leaf junction. It is better not to leave any stem below the bud. Now, remove all the buds and leaves from the lower region on the stem-cutting. Keeping just a few leaves on the top.
- You can use a growth hormone powder. Just dip the base of the cutting in it dusting away any excess of it.
- Now, dig a hole using your finger or a pencil in moist growing mixture or soil. Plant the basal side of the stem-cutting at least 4 inches deep in the soil. Fix the soil around the cutting.
- Make sure you plant Place the pot in indirect light of medium intensity. Water frequently after the soil gets at least 80% dry.
- Wait for about three to four weeks and the cutting will start developing its root.
- Moreover, you will see the shoot development in about 50 to 70 days.
Can I propagate Erythrophylla in water?
Yes, Begonias easily develop roots in water. You can enjoy them in water. Once you see the plant getting larger, you can even transfer it to soil.
Common issues related to the plant are discussed below. We are sharing some self-help solutions. However, it is always better to get a direct professional advice.
Begonia Leaves Getting a grey Cast
The leaves will get a prominent greyish cast, which is an indication of inadequate watering. However, if you water right away, you will see your resilient plant looking fresh green very soon.
Begonia leaves getting curled-up
This is a possible symptom of inadequate or watering or excess salts in the water. Check and manage your watering routine. Furthermore, avoid using heavy or salty water for the plant.
Crusty Brown or White Cotton clumps on Begonia leaves
This is an indication of Scales infestation. It may cause the leaves to wilt and turn yellow. You can solve this issue by gently cleaning the leaves with a toothbrush dipped in soapy water. After that, you have to take some horticulture oil and spray it on both sides of the leaves. This will kill any leftover pets. You can also use sprays commonly available in the market.
Spider Mites on Begonia
If your Begonia leaves are getting stippled and pale, check for spider mites. Tap the fresh leaves on a white paper. Tiny dark spots on the paper are an indication of the infestation. You can remove this by spraying the plant with a garden hose to blow away the pests. Make sure you don’t do it around other plants. As the pests may attack any plant nearby.
Mealy Bugs and Aphids on Begonia
Mealy Bugs cause slow growth and leaf-damage.
Aphids absorb moisture and cause the leaves to get curled up, turn yellow and distort.
Both these issues can be controlled by spraying and cleaning the plant with water.
Beefsteak Begonia is a beautiful perennial flowering plant. The average mature height is around 15 inches. The glossy, thick, olive-green leaves are circular or oval in shape growing on long thin stalks. BeefSteek Begonia Care includes bright indirect light and frequent watering while letting the soil dry between intervals. This repeated bloomer gets covered with bouquets of beautiful scented and showy, baby pink flowers.