Did you already know what this plant was without me telling you?
Without the plant label, I would have had no clue this plant was actually begonia. A spotted begonia nonetheless! But hybrid begonias are all the rage right now in the indoor plant world.
When I think of begonias, I think of upright flowering plants grown in pots and window boxes in cooler climates and grown as bedding and border plants in warmer regions. But always grown outside. Wrong!
Begonias are semitropical and tropical perennial plants that are prized for their beautiful flowers and stunning foliage. For this reason alone, begonias should be grown indoors as a houseplant for year-round thrills.
Emphasis on stunning foliage because it’s all about the dots. Do you see them? Are you marveling at those silver/white dots?
There are thousands of begonia species because they are so easy to hybridize. Let me tell you about the hybrid spotted begonia zorro because this houseplant is going to make you happy.
How the hybrid begonia zorro is actually a cane begonia
Begonia species and cultivars display an amazing spectrum of flower and foliage colors, patterns and shapes.
The begonia zorro is a cane begonia, also called an “angel wing” begonia that can be identified by its thick and chunky bamboo-like tough stem.
Cane begonias like the spotted begonia zorro have large split leaves with silver dots or splashes on them and can be up to 14 inches long.
My plant is supposed to boast shrimp pink blossoms which I have never had the opportunity to see firsthand as it has never bloomed.
However, I am content with those delightful silverish dots. Until then, I plan on starting to moderately fertilize the plant to see if that does the trick.
The spotted begonia zorro tends to get leggy. But this spindly nature only increases the plants visual appeal as the older canes charmingly cascade over the side of the pot.
In warmer climates like Florida and California, the begonia zorro would be excellent in a hanging basket. But I live in New York where the begonia zorro is strictly an indoor plant.
How begonias are grouped!
Since there are thousands of begonias these days with all the hybrids, they are divided into groups based on their growing habits, as well we their stem and leaf characteristics.
All varieties fall into three groups.
1.) fibrous-rooted type, 2.) Tuberous-rooted 3.) rhizomatous
The fibrous-rooted types, which have a central stalk, are extremely variable in foliage and flowers an include many free-flowering forms.
Tuberous-rooted kinds are mainly summer-flowering, with large camellia-type single and double flowers. Think large, showy flowers in shades of white, yellow, pink, red and orange. These are your pot and hanging basket begonias.
The rhizomatous types are distinguished by creeping rhizomes and large and small, beautiful leaves.
Why the hybrid begonia zorro is a such a unique plant
Aside from its stunning foliage and potential of pinkish flowers (keeping my fingers crossed) there’s lot to love about the begonia zorro.
Cane begonias or angel wing begonias as ones grandmother would have affectionately called them are famous for their longevity.
One can also easily control the size of the plant. Their size spans the gap between a foot to several feet in height, if you wish it to grow tall. Or keep pruning for a smaller, more manageable indoor plant.
Best of all, the hybrid begonia zorro is a non-fussy plant. You can probably tell from the photos that although the plant is getting adequate humidity in my bathroom, it’s not getting tons of bright light. There’s only one small window.
Yes…this is probably why it isn’t flowering for me. But still, the plant is thriving all pot bound in the small hanging planter.
Finally, it’s mind blowing how some leaves boast numerous dots while others remain a dark green with barely a few speckles. The leaf variation is extraordinary!
Caring for the hybrid spotted begonia zorro at home – water requirements
I’ve had a begonia zorro for roughly five years now. It’s still alive and thriving as it cascades over the sides of this hanging wall planter. And it’s in my bathroom over the toilet. (In case you were wondering).
It’s not a plant that is particularly picky or complains too much when life is not perfect.
High light exclusive of direct sunlight is of first importance. It’s the bright light that encourages the intensity of the dots!
The potting soil must be kept moist. Drying out weakens the plant, making it susceptible to disease, fungus and bugs. Similarly, good aeration is of the utmost importance.
The begonia zorro never wants to sit in standing water so its roots can be tempted to rot. So never overwater. Once a week is ideal, unless, when you go to water the soil still feels wet. Then wait a few days until watering.
The begonia zorro is strictly an indoor plant~ it’s going to die if taken outdoors unless you live in a sunny and warm climate down south.
Potting the spotted begonia zorro & indoor temps
Plant a begonia zorro in a rich, humusy mix. Cane-like begonias tolerate a heavy mix to support tall growth. Those thickish bamboo-like stems get heavy!
Most other begonias prefer a coarser, more porous mix. So adding sand and perlite to your potting mix are a good idea for those types. Re-pot in the spring or summer.
Most cane-like are not picky about temperature or humidity. If you are comfortable in a temp range, so is your plant. But if the leaves get brown tinged on the edges, then the humidity is too low.
Pruning is essential or the plant will form one humongous stem that will get so heavy that your plants future could be in jeopardy. Even your heavy potting mix can’t make up for the sheer weight of the plant.
Prune in winter or early spring. Remove old and woody canes and even shorten the green ones to about four or five nodes. New canes just starting should be left alone. Pruning is essential to encourage, fresh, supple canes and stems.
This is also the time to repot, give your begonia zorra fresh potting mix for a new lease on life. Begonias like to be slightly pot-bound.
In fact, in the above picture, I just snipped that bamboo-like stem and am currently rooting it in water. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!
Propagating the begonia zorro
Nothing could be easier than propagating the begonia zorro. Because those canes tend to get heavy, it’s a good idea to clip an end to propagate.
I always prefer to propagate in water. It’s almost foolproof! You almost always end up with long, thick white roots that can be transplanted in fresh potting soil when you go to pot it.
However, there’s no guarantee the plant will thrive. It may just die. This is because the white roots which easily developed in water go into shock mode when transplanted into soil.
But more often or not, the white plushy roots do make their way and end up taking to the soil. And then you have another plant for yourself or to share with family or a friend.
Rooting in water has always been much more successful for me than trying to root it dirt, which almost always fails. But that’s just my opinion.
To my knowledge, the begonia zorro does not seed so cuttings are the only way to multiply the exact replica of the plant.
So if you’re really passionate about begonias, you can always join the American Begonia Society!