Begonias are the most widely grown houseplants. They have excellent foliage with beautiful flowers. Beefsteak Begonia is a beautiful member of this family with green-reddish leaves. The top side is green and the underside is reddish or burgundy.
This is not a natural variety of begonias. It is created by the botanical scientists of Germany. They crossbreed multiple begonias to develop this extraordinary plant with colorful foliage and flowers.
The sad part is Beefsteak plant is not frost resistant so you need to bring it indoors in the winter season. To grow it happily, you need to understand its growing requirements.
Here is my experience with this begonia and my care techniques.
About the Plant
In general, growing conditions Beefsteak Begonia grows 20 inches in height. This means it can be a wonderful plant for office desks and other tables.
Tabletop plants are short to medium-height plants that need less care and maintenance. This begonia full fill the criteria.
People call it beefsteak because the undersides of the foliage have a rusty reddish color like real beefsteak.
Generally, it is a slow-growing plant in the spring and summer seasons it acts as a fast grower. In the winter season, it again stops growing and resumes its growth right before the spring starts.
You will be glad to know that this beautiful plant does not need direct sunlight. In fact, you should protect it from direct sunlight. Because they are hot and the soft foliage cannot tolerate them.
This results in foliage burn and you will lose your plant if you do not catch the problem on time.
To avoid these issues, place the plant pot near the sunny window. Makes sure your plant only gets indirect bright light.
Low light is also a problem for this plant. This results in weak plants and fewer leaves. To encourage dense growth and large size leaves expose it to the morning sunlight.
You also need to rotate the pot so that the morning light can touch every part of this plant.
I prefer soil-less mixes to avoid soil-related problems. I use African Violet potting mix. This mix contains lightweight ingredients that allow good air circulation.
The aim of this soil is to keep the plant hydrated without being waterlogged.
Regular potting mixes do not contain perlite, peat, and compost. After buying it you still need to amend the mix with some other fluffy ingredients.
So, it is best to buy ready-to-use African violet potting mixes. They are affordable and almost every brand has all the essential ingredients in their formula to support the Beefsteak Begonia growth.
I am strongly against garden soil when it comes to growing indoor plants. This soil is heavy for them and increases the chances of root rot and other fungus diseases.
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Watering Beefsteak Begonia
This begonia plant does not like to live in waterlogged soil. The soak and dry technique will work best for it. In this method, you soak the plant in water and then let the top few inches of the soil dry before the next watering session.
I found this method very helpful to avoid all excessive water-related problems like root rot, stem rot, leaf rot, etc.
For extra safety of your plant check the soil moisture level before watering sessions.
Poke your finger in the soil and feel the moisture. Or you can use soil moisture testing devices and get digital readings.
These devices are easily available on Amazon and are inexpensive.
The quality of water also affects its health. Water must be clean and not contain chlorine or other unwanted chemicals or minerals.
Begonias do not need heavy fertilization because they are medium size plants and grow slowly.
But for their good health, it is okay to give some nutritional boost in the form of fertilizers. Use balanced liquid fertilizer.
Dilute it to this half strength and then give it to the plant only once in 30 days.
Do not use nutrient supplements in the winter season because Beefsteak plants stop growing in this season. And this will result in fertilizer burn due to overdose.
Pre-fertilized soil-less mixes contain all the important nutrients. If you are using this type of soil then you do not need to buy nutrients separately.
Temperature & Humidity
The best temperature range for this begonia is 45 to 85 degrees F. Below 45 degrees F the sap of the plant starts freezing. The internal soft tissues of the leaves start breaking in parts.
This blocks the utilization of nutrients; your plants absorb less light.
This results in less production of chlorophyll which directly affects the production of glucose in the plants. This weak the plant and it starts dying.
To save your plants from cold bring them inside in winter and please do not place them near the heating vents. The direct flow of hot air dehydrates the plant and again it starts dying due to loss of moisture.
For humidity keep it near about 50%. Do not let it drop below 45% because this will create problems for your Beefsteak Begonia.
There are many methods by which you can increase the moisture in the home air like room humidifier or plant humidifier, pebble tray, etc.
Beefsteak Begonia is toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses. It contains a chemical compound called Calcium Oxalate. This chemical can cause kidney failure in cars and dogs.
Stomach pain, Vomiting, and Upset Stomach are more signs that are serious.
Keep your begonia at some height so that the pets cannot reach the plant. Immediately call the doctor or poison control center when you see toxic symptoms in your pets.
The good news is begonias do not need repotting for their entire life. The sad news is their total life span is 3 to 4 years.
In this short lifespan, they do not need potting up.
But you can change the potting soil once a year to stretch their life span to 4 years. My first begonia plant died after 2 years.
Then I learn this technique and now my oldest begonia is 3 years and 4 months old. Terracotta plant pots are bet to grow these plants.
Propagation of Beefsteak Begonia
You have two methods of propagation one is stem cutting and the second is root division. For me, both methods are easy and successful.
Cut the 4 inches long healthy stem just below the leaf node.
Or divide the roots and plant them in different pots and you are done with propagation.
In the second method dip the cutting in a glass of clean water. Make sure the leaf is under the water level. It is the place where new roots will grow.
Remove all the bottom leaves that are near the leaf node. This will save a huge amount of energy and increase the chances of successful rooting.
Once the roots grow 2 inches long then you can transfer them to the potting mix and give regular care.
Note: Do not expose the stem cutting to direct sunlight when it is rooting. To speed up the rooting process place the glass in a warm and highly humid place.
Protect your begonia from direct sunlight you will never face any problems growing Beefsteak Begonia.
Water it less as compared to other plants, especially in the winter season. Propagate it in its active growing season.
This is an easy-to-grow wonderful begonia plant.