Begonias are a diverse plant family with a long history, from showy flowers to leafy houseplants. According to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, there are currently over 2,000 accepted species of Begonia.
Begonias historically were—and still are—a trophy plant for collectors due to their beauty. Begonia is commonly planted as an attractive ground cover in tropical climates. In cold climates, species with unique leaves are prized as indoor houseplants.
Growing tropical plants indoors does come with some risks. It can be challenging to replicate tropical environments in our living spaces. Issues like wilting or drooping leaves are common afflictions with Begonias.
So why is my Begonia droopy, and what causes it? Droopy Begonias are usually caused by overwatering, which can be fixed by allowing the soil to dry out and ensuring adequate drainage, or transplant shock, which can generally be fixed by watering and patience.
We’ll examine why this happens and how you can bring your beautiful Begonias back to life.
Why is My Begonia Rex Drooping?
Begonia Rex, also known as Rex Begonia, is one of the most popular varieties of Begonia grown indoors. Their showy foliage comes in vibrant shades of purple, green, and silver. This is what gives them their other common name: Fancy-leaf Begonia.
Begonias are not overly challenging to take care of, but they have particular watering requirements. That means they are susceptible to underwatering and overwatering.
Begonias are also one of those plants that are sensitive to repotting. They often suffer from what’s called transplant shock. Let’s look at these issues in more depth.
Signs of Overwatered Begonia
Finicky in nature, Begonias love high humidity but do not like their soil soaking wet. Good watering habits and pot drainage are an absolute must.
This is because Begonias are very sensitive to the build-up of minerals in the soil. If you overwater your Begonia in a pot without drainage holes, salt from the water and fertilizers accumulate. Over time, you will see evidence of salt burn, such as shriveled leaf edges.
Overly moist soil also makes Begonias susceptible to a fungus called Botrytis cinerea, or ‘gray mold.’ This fungus attacks the stems and leaves and often causes yellow leaves and wilting.
Why is My Begonia Wilting After Transplanting?
Begonias can be sensitive to repotting and transplanting for a couple of reasons.
Rex Begonias, in particular, grow from a shallow rhizome and therefore do best in wide shallow pots. The rhizomes tend to spread, giving the plant wide-reaching but shallow roots.
When these roots are moved to a new pot, it can take a while for them to acclimate to their new soil. Delicate roots have a higher chance of getting damaged during transplant, and drooping is a natural result of this stress.
Your Begonia may also wilt during transplant if the soil conditions differ from what they are used to. Transplanting into dry soil is especially dangerous for Begonias because this draws nutrients away from the roots. You should always water the soil directly after transplanting to give your plant the nutrients and strength it needs to bounce back.
How Do You Fix Droopy Begonias?
The first step to fixing your droopy Begonia is to know which of these two issues is affecting your plant. If you’ve overwatered your plant, you must determine how much damage has been caused. If you’ve recently repotted your plant, the issue is more likely to be transplant shock.
How to Fix Overwatered Begonias
If you have an overwatered plant, the first step is to stop watering it. Let the top layer of soil dry out and see if the plant perks up. If not, you may need to remove the plant from its pot and allow the soil to air out. If your plant has poor drainage, switch to a pot with drainage holes so excess minerals can be flushed away.
If you see signs of mold in the soil, you must remove any dead leaves or rotten roots that will attract more fungal spores. Then, apply a fungicide like fenhexamid, designed to kill Botrytis cinerea.
How to Fix Transplant Shock in Begonias
The best way to avoid transplant shock is to disturb the roots as little as possible during repotting. This means avoiding breaking roots and not planting your Begonia in vastly different soil conditions.
But if your Begonia is already wilting, you’ll need to do some remediation.
The first step to combat transport shock is to water the soil. This will give the plant nourishment so it can start to recuperate. You can even use special transplanting fertilizer to give the roots a boost of nutrients that will stimulate their growth.
You can also cut back your Begonia plant leaves to allow the roots to focus on growing in their new environment.
If all else fails, give your Begonia time to adjust. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of patience, and your Begonia will bounce back on its own.
How Often Should Begonias be Watered?
Since overwatering is such a common issue with Begonias, owners of this plant should be well-versed in their watering needs.
Rex Begonias require regular watering, but as we know, they do not tolerate overwatering. To prevent the risk of overwatering, let the top layer of soil dry out between waterings. Stick your finger 1-2 inches into the soil before you water it. If it feels dry to the touch, give it water.
Remember that although Begonias like humidity, they do not like to be misted. Misting encourages the growth of white mildew. This mildew appears as blotchy gray patches on the leaves and is especially deadly for young Begonia plants.
How Long Does a Plant Stay in Shock After Repotting?
The recovery time after transplant shock depends entirely on the plant and its environment. Mature trees and shrubs can take years to recover from transplant shock!
For houseplants, the recovery time from transplant shock is usually around 1-2 weeks. Make sure you give your Begonia a well-draining pot, regular watering, and lots of indirect sunlight to stimulate healthy root growth.
Should You Cut Back Begonias?
Houseplant varieties of Begonia like Rex Begonia are beloved for their ample lush foliage. It’s unnecessary to prune their leaves unless you’d like to taper their growth to create a thicker-looking plant.
Outdoor flowering Begonias benefit from regular pruning and deadheading to create more flowers. Pruning the plant will help redirect its energy into growing flowers rather than longer stems. You should cut back the branches on these Begonia plants every 2-4 weeks. Make it a point to remove any dead or dying flowers at the same time.
How Long Does a Begonia Plant Last?
Rex Begonias have a lifespan of about 2-3 years. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy a new plant once yours dies. Propagating your plant while it’s still healthy will help you extend its life!
The best way to propagate Rex Begonia is by taking a cutting from the stem with some leaves attached. Put your cutting in a jar of water and place it on a bright windowsill. Once it grows roots, you can then plant it in the soil.
How Do You Keep Begonias Upright?
Many outdoor tuberous Begonias grow upward and have large, heavy flowers. So, a common issue is sagging or drooping Begonia bushes.
These tuberous Begonias have quite brittle stems. So, when plants get too large, these stems have a habit of breaking in the wind. The best way to keep these Begonias upright is by staking them. Cutting back leggy growth regularly is also an excellent idea to prevent your Begonias from getting too tall.
Whether you prefer flowering plants or foliage plants, there’s likely a Begonia species to suit your fancy. But if you aren’t aware of its needs, you may find yourself with droopy leaves.
Droopy Begonias are usually caused by overwatering, which can be fixed by allowing the soil to dry out and ensuring adequate drainage holes, or transplant shock, which can generally be fixed by watering and patience.
Mineral build-up and fungus growth due to overwatering are the leading causes of droopy Begonias. Combat these issues with a well-draining pot, and always let the soil dry between waterings. Begonias may also wilt due to stress to the roots from transplant shock.
Sometimes watering the plant or cutting back the stems can redirect energy back to the roots. Once you’ve fixed these issues, give your Begonia time to rebound, and you’ll be back to enjoying its beauty!