Begonias are eye-catching plants. Unique and attractive leaves are their real beauty. In some cases, begonias become leggy and produce fewer leaves.
This problem is common with new growers or those who just start their indoor garden.
To fix this issue first you need to catch the root cause. Because there are many factors that trigger the overgrowth of stems and reduce the number of leaves per stem.
Low light, temperature fluctuations, humidity issues are some common things that trigger leggy growth.
In this article, I’ll explain every single detail about leggy begonias and their solutions.
What is leggy begonia growth?
Leggy growth means when plants grow more than their normal size and only produce few leaves. Popular begonia varieties like polka dot and angle wing are more prone to stretchy growth.
Begonia that grows leggy does not look attractive. Generally, leggy plants grow towards the source of light. The growth can be straight upwards or to the left side or to the right side.
What causes leggy growth in begonias?
Below are the reasons that trigger stretchy growth in these plants.
1. Low light
This is the most common cause of leggy growth in begonias. Plants need light to make their food. When they do not get sufficient light energy.
They stretch their stems towards the source of light. The source of light can be a sunny window or a grow light.
If your plant is growing towards the light source. Then this means the low light is the issue.
Generally, begonia does not need constant high bright light. They can live in low-light conditions. But the plant will not produce plenty of leaves.
Give it bright indirect light for 6 hours per day and your plant will start producing more leaves.
2. Room Temperature
Because begonia variety is native to tropical regions. They like to grow in a warm and humid environments. When the temperature of the room gets hot, the plant feels that it is summertime. And it starts producing fewer leaves to save its energy to handle the hot temperatures.
Give your begonia a warm environment to solve the leggy growth problems.
For the good growth of plants, a grower must use fertilizers. This increases the growing cost but nutrient supplements are a must to grow healthy plants.
But in case you give extra nutrients to your begonia. Your plant will stop producing leaves and send all nutrients to stems to handle the high dose.
You will also observe leaf burn in this case.
4. Pot size
We use small pots to grow indoor plants. The main benefit of these pots is the plants remain short in height. They do not get space to grow tall and spend their energy to produce leaves and variegation.
On the other hand, if you repot your plant in large size pot. Then begonia roots find good space to grow and this also encourages the overall growth of the plant.
Therefore, use a small size of the pot to grow it and only repot begonia when the roots become visible on the top surface.
How you can fix leggy begonia?
1. Pruning and propagation
It is the technique that encourages thicker growth. Always prune your plants in spring or summer. Take sharp shears and cut the infected parts of the plant. Also, cut the overly grown stems and use them for propagation.
Closely inspect the plant and cut the stems that look damage and cut the leaves that are yellow or brown. This saves lots of energy and your plant uses it to produce thicker growth.
Once you cut the long overly grown stems then you can use them to produce more plants. Use a glass of water or potting soil as a growing medium.
Then place the cutting in the water or in the pot.
Place it in a warm and high humid location. High humidity speed up the development of roots. Once you see the new roots. It is time to repot it in the plant pot.
If the plant is already in the pot, then move it to the bright place and give it regular care. It will take 30 days to fully develop new roots.
If the humidity is low then you can cover the pot or the glass of water with plastic wrap. Make sure the wrap does not touch the stem cutting.
This increases the humidity. Gently lift the cover twice in 24 hours for 2 minutes to prevent the growth of fungus.
2. Pinching technique
Once you cut your plant to the desired height. The next step is to pinch the new growth.
Use your fingers to pinch the new growth that sprouts at the top of the stems. Regularly pinching the begonias pushes the plant to sprout on multiple points on each stem. This makes a begonia fuller and beautiful.
How to prevent leggy growth in all begonia varieties?
Now that you know how you can identify the cause. It is time to know how you can prevent this condition.
3. Sufficient light
Give your begonia indirect bright light to full fill its light needs. By stretching itself the plant tells you that it needs more light.
Use a plant light meter to measure the light that your plant is getting.
Then change its location to give it a sufficient amount of light. If you are growing your begonia in corners. Then you need to install a grow light for it.
A 200 watts LED grow light is enough for two begonia plants.
Never expose your indoor plants like begonia to direct sunlight. Because sun rays are high intense rays. The soft leaves of this plant cannot handle them.
Burning leaves is the main sign of overlight exposure.
4. Lower the temperature
If you are giving adequate light to your plant. But still, it shows leggy growth. Then the problem is with the temperature. Keep the temperature of the room under control and your plant will grow happily.
55 to 70 F is the ideal temperature range for all begonia varieties.
5. Stop fertilizing
Fertilize begonia once in 30 days only in its active growing season. Stop fertilizing in the winter season.
If your plant is suffering from overfertilization then you need to flush the soil and plant it back in the same pot.
For good growth use all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Make sure it has some organic content in it.
6. Soil for Repotting
To grow indoor begonias do not use soil. Because indoor plants are more prone to fungus diseases. Instead of soil, use ready-to-use potting mixes that contain perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss.
Then mix some organic fertilizer to boost the plant health.
Leggy growth in begonias is simple to fix. Find the cause and follow the solution written in this post. Low light is the main cause of this problem.
Indirect bright light is enough to successfully grow begonias.
For more info on begonias check our houseplant section.