Begonia Chlorosticta is a beautiful but sensitive species of begonia. If you are looking for a great terrarium plant, or you’re an advanced plant grower that enjoys a challenge, this plant could be for you!
What is Begonia Chlorosticta?
Native to the lowland forests of Sarawak, Malaysia this stunning begonia species is one of the rarest and most sought after in the hobby, similar to some other begonias such as darthvaderiana and cleopatrae.
Originally called B. U038 or ex Kew species until it was officially given the name begonia chlorosticta.
There are two recognized color forms of b. chlorosticta, they are green and red. Some also claim to have a dark form or black form, but it is not currently recognized by horticulturists.
This plant is recognizable by its elliptic-shaped leaves and beautiful colors. The green variety is an olive green with lighter green spots and the red variety is reddish-brown with pale green spots. Both have red veins and stems.
Begonia chlorosticta blooms in the fall and produces beautiful white or pink flowers depending on the color variety you have.
This plant is most commonly grown in terrariums or greenhouses, but if you want to keep it outside, it could be planted in partial shade as a perennial in USDA grow zones 10-11.
How to Care for Begonia Chlorosticta
Temperature and Climate
These sensitive begonias require moderate to high humidity, so it’s recommended that you keep them in a glass terrarium or a greenhouse.
If those options aren’t available to you, it’s also possible to keep your plant in a group of other plants. Since plants give off humidity, having it in the centre of your other plants, or near a humidifier can do the trick as well.
The preferred temperature for these tropical plants is between 65-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Any colder or warmer than that and your plant will likely start to drop leaves.
Begonia chlorosticta prefers to be kept in a shaded or partially shaded area. If you are keeping it in a terrarium, a fluorescent plant bulb will do the trick. If it is elsewhere in your house, indirect filtered light should keep this plant thriving.
When adding a new plant to your house, you may need to move it around a bit until you find the sweet spot where it’s happiest. I’ve had two begonia rex from the same source prefer different areas in the house, so keep in mind that there is always variability with individual plants.
One of the biggest killers of begonia chlorosticta is over and under-watering and, unfortunately, the symptoms of both are similar with yellowing and dying leaves.
To avoid this, be sure to use well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. I use Fox Farms Ocean Forest soil and perlite in a 2:1 ratio, but you can definitely tinker and see which soil you like best.
When repotting this species, you will want to take care not to damage the roots as they can be fairly fragile.
It’s best to only go up one pot size at a time and to use a pot with drainage holes.
I tend to keep most of my plants in nursery pots that I place inside my decorative pots. This is definitely optional and just my preference, but I find it gives me a lot more flexibility in the decorative pots I use and it allows me to cut off a pot if I ever have roots growing out of the drainage holes.
Having a solid watering schedule is a very important aspect of plant care. You want your plants to know they will have a steady supply of water so they feel safe in growing and extending their roots, but you don’t want it to be too wet or the roots will stop growing completely.
Depending on the humidity levels and temperatures where you are keeping your plant, you may find once a week works for you, but I typically water mine twice a week.
Before watering, stick your finger about an inch into the soil. If the soil is still saturated, wait a few more days, but if it is dry or close to being dry, it’s a good time to water.
These plants don’t enjoy becoming bone dry, but they don’t want to be soaking wet either, so finding the right balance is the key to your plant thriving.
I use a mild water-soluble house plant fertilizer for all of my begonias, including begonia chlorosticta, but pelleted slow-release fertilizers can be a great choice too.
Be sure to only fertilize during the growing season, which is spring-fall, and give your plant a break when it is dormant in the winter.
Once your plant is thriving, you may decide you want to create some cuttings either to expand your plant collection, share with friends, or sell online. Whatever your reasons, propagation can be a rewarding part of the plant hobby.
For begonia chlorosticta the preferred method of propagation is stem cuttings, but you can also grow them from seeds.
To do a stem cutting, you want to cut below a node on the stem. If there are already roots on the stem, you can place them directly into your soil mix. If there aren’t roots, you can place the bottom of the stem in water and wait for roots to grow. Be sure to change the water 1-2 times per week and when you notice the roots have started growing, transplant it to soil.
Keeping your begonia chlorosticta pruned is an important part of its care. You don’t want to allow the plant to get too tall and leggy, so to encourage more bush-like growth, you can trim off leaves that are taller than what you want.
It is also important to deadhead flowers after they have finished blooming and to remove any damaged or yellowed leaves. Leaves that aren’t doing well consume a lot of the plant’s energy and removing them allows the plant to focus on growing new healthy leaves.
Growing begonia chlorosticta is a challenging but rewarding adventure. If you have a moderate amount of experience with begonias and are looking for something rarer to add to your collection, this is likely the perfect plant for you.
If you are a beginner, I would recommend starting with an easier begonia like begonia rex or begonia maculata and adding this particular species to your future wish list.
Having rare plants is fun, and a thriving begonia chlorosticta is sure to make all your plant-keeping friends impressed.