Begonia Pavonina (Peacock Begonia) Plant Care Guide

Also called Peacock Begonia, the Begonia Pavonina gets its moniker from its brilliant, stunning blue-green and iridescent blue leaves. Other names include the catfish plant and the blue plant. The heart-shaped leaves have an attractive reddish hue on the underside, and the plant grows white and light pink flowers off and on during the year, particularly in the summer.

These rhizomatous species are fascinating to grow because of the stunning leaves that change colors based on the lighting conditions in the room. Botanists believe the color of the leaves changes thanks to the low-light conditions. They change color so the plants can take in more sunlight.

begonia pavonina plant

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Botanical NameBegonia pavonina
Common NamePeacock Begonia
Size16 inches tall, 8 inches wide
DifficultyEasy
Pet FriendlyToxic
Air CleanerYes

Begonia Pavonina Origin

Originally from Malaysia, the Begonia pavonina lived in dim rainforests with high elevations. Because they have a predisposition to high humidity levels, these plants do well in greenhouses or terrariums.

Scientists say they developed their iridescent azure leaves to extract more energy in low light conditions. The captivating characteristic of iridescent leaves becomes visible when light hits the foliage at a specific angle, resembling Peacock feathers.

How to Care for Begonia Pavonina 

Growers love to add these beauties to their collections, noticing the remarkable piece of décor that draws conversations. By following this guide, these indoor plants will thrive and continue to shimmer in any home. So, houseplant enthusiasts can add Begonia pavoninas to their indoor display.

Light and Temperature 

Natural light is a must for these beauties because of the iridescent leaves. If no sunlight hits the Begonia pavoninas, then the Peacock effect on the leaves will appear weak or not at all.

These tropical plants enjoy growing in enough sunlight and sufficient exposure to indirect light. When they grow in their native environment, these blue plants are under a thick canopy of trees and indirect sunlight.

Direct sunlight will burn their delicate leaves. In fact, they love being near a well-lit north or south-facing window. That way, the sun does not directly hit the Peacock Begonias.

Begonia pavonina plants thrive in temperature levels between 55° and 75° Fahrenheit or between 13° and 64° Celsius. Cool nights work well, between 54° and 64° Fahrenheit or 12° and 15° Celsius.

Growers can make sure these houseplants thrive well in moderate temperatures. They dislike constant hot temperatures, and hot summer days and nights can place stress on the pavoninas’ foliage. And, like most tropical plants, freezing temperatures will kill the plants.

Humidity is essential to Begonia pavoninas, with levels maintained at 50 to 80 percent. These plants thrive in moist air, so check the humidity levels on dry days. There are many ways to improve the humidity of houseplants:

  • Keep a bowl of water near the plant
  • Use a pebble-water tray placed under the plant. Ensure the water remains below the pebbles.
  • Use a humidifier set at 50 to 80 percent
  • Mist the foliage with a spray bottle
  • Group the plants to increase humidity naturally

Conversely, growers need to prevent foliage from remaining wet too long. Wet leaves can attract pests and fungi.

Some growers use a digital hygrometer that instantly shows the humidity level. That way, they can adjust the humid conditions as needed.

Water

Overwatering can harm Begonia pavoninas, so it’s best to underwater them. However, these indoor plants require moderate watering, once or twice a week, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.

Root rot will appear if these Peacock begonias get overwatered. Root rot is hard to treat and usually causes death. Watering frequency depends on how much sunlight the houseplants receive and the indoor temperature.

Spring and summer are growing seasons, so the plants need more water. Suppose it gets super-hot, then water three times a week. During the fall and winter, reduce the amount of watering. The cold weather even slows down water evaporation and absorption. These blue plants go dormant, and growers only need to water them every two to three weeks.

The best way to check whether these plants need water is to stick a finger about one to two inches into the potting mix. If it’s dry, then give these plants water. When the soil feels wet, wait and check again in one to two days. Once it’s dry, then water.

Fertilization

Feed Begonia pavonina plants every two weeks throughout the growing season. A balanced liquid fertilizer with 20-20-20 with NPK values works best. But, don’t overfeed because it will burn the plants, so dilute by 50 percent.

Organic fertilizers are the best, but synthetic ones will work and are cheaper. Organic fertilizers offer better plant nutrients enabling faster growth, while synthetic fertilizers are more concentrated and diluting is a must. Otherwise, high salt residue will build up, causing root burn.

Flowering

Begonia pavoninas bloom throughout the year, creating pretty white and light pink flowers. Though, the leaves changing colors is a more prominent attraction than the flowers. Still, growers have a gorgeous plant with bright blue leaves, burgundy underside, and pink flowers.

Pruning

The Peacock Begonia plants grow relatively fast. Some growers pinch to shape their houseplants while others use sterilized and sharp pruning shears. The idea is to control the size of the plants and encourage healthy growth.

Wear protective gloves to avoid the toxic oxalate crystals. 

Pruning or pinching the plants can help avoid the plant from growing leggy parts. Removing dead or discolored leaves from the plant will permit shapely fresh growth. When owners remove dead and unsightly leaves from the Begonia plants, they avoid wasting nutrients and energy on damaged foliage.

Repotting

The blue plants fare well when repotted every one to two years. They can outgrow their containers relatively fast since they grow quickly indoors. With that in mind, transfer the houseplant to a larger planter.

Otherwise, staying in the same pot for over two years will stunt their growth and stress out the plant because of the constrained and limited space.

Roots crowding around the plant or poking out drainage holes show that the plant needs a bigger home. Spring is the perfect time to repot the Peacock Begonias. Repotting is also an excellent time to switch out the old potting mix and add new.

Use well-drained potting soil that doesn’t leave puddles on the topsoil. That way, the roots have room to breathe and take in oxygen.

Pests

Begonia pavonina plants can have pests, but it’s not fatal, and the sooner the handling occurs, the better for the plants. Inspect houseplants regularly, like once a week, for any sign of insects. 

Typically, they are noticeable, and most owners can determine if their plant has insects. A list of the expected pests:

Whiteflies — Miniature white-winged flies fly around the houseplants. The Begonia shows yellowing and blemished leaves, and the undersides of the leaves show white dust specks. 

Mealybugs — These little buggers are pretty standard with Peacock begonia plants. They appear under the leaves as white cotton substance, and the leaves will curl, wilt then fall off. 

Spider Mites — When the indoor plants have these pests, there is visible discoloration of the foliage. A heavy infestation usually displays fine white webbing across the leaves. 

Aphids — These insects come in different colors, but their pear shape is uniform. They feed off the plant by sucking the sap from the plants. Stunted growth and curling leaves that fall off indicate that Begonia has these critters. 

Caring for begonias with pests is basic and easy to do. Cut off the infected areas using a sterilized pruning shear. 

Use a cotton swab or a dry, clean cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. Then, gently apply the cloth to the infected areas. Rubbing alcohol eliminates spider mites, mealybugs and their eggs. It’s incredibly effective. 

Spraying insecticide helps eliminate aphids and whiteflies. Gently wipe the plant with a clean, dry cloth to remove any signs of pests after spraying. 

If the invasion is out of control, horticultural oils like neem oil work well. Follow the directions on the product label. 

Once treated, check the Peacock begonias weekly, confirming the handling worked. If not, repeat until there are no indications of pests.

Diseases

Proper care of Begonias pavoninas is excellent preventive care. Diseases materialize because of improper care, principally overwatering. Too much water stops the plant from breathing because there is insufficient air space. They become weak and cannot live. 

Actions to avoid diseases:

  • Don’t get water on the buds and flowers when misting the plants.
  • Avoid wet soil in between waterings. 
  • Prevent cold temperatures and humidity together. 
  • Apply a fungicide annually as a preventive. 

Common symptoms and diseases:

Bacterial Leaf — Large circular spots that are brown and black will form on the foliage, starting at the base of the Begonia. 

Botrytis Blight — Flowers, stems and buds turn yellow and grow abnormally, including patches of black and brown on the flowers, which eventually rot away.  

Gray Mold — Greyish-brown mold develops in the foliage, buds and flowers. 

Powdery Mildew — Leaves have discolored and yellowing with a coating of a white substance in the foliage. 

Root Rot — Roots progressively rot, stunting growth with flowers yellowing, wilting, and then falling off. 

Treating a Peacock Begonia with any of these diseases requires patience and commitment. Start by deadheading or cutting off the exhausted flowers using sterilized and sharp pruning shears. 

Spray fungicides before buds form or after buds turn into flowers. 

If the Begonia has root rot, remove the plant from the container. Dry the plant out and repot into a new pot with many drainage holes. Add new fast-draining potting soil with porous. 

Handling for powdery mildew involves fungicides with sulfur spraying the infected locale. 

Severe infection is challenging to treat effectively and rescue the plant. Most growers instead propagate the healthy cuttings from the plant and toss the infected parts. 

How to Propagate Begonia Pavonina

Propagating Begonia pavonina is an uncomplicated process. Propagate these beauties in the springtime or early summer. The most effective propagation method starts with the stem cuttings with two leaves.

Using Stem Cuttings

  1. Wear gloves to protect the hands from the toxic sap. 
  2. Cut a healthy-looking stem of the blue plant, ensuring it has two to three leaf nodes – four to six inches long.
  3. Ensure there is nothing at the bottom of the cutting. The area needs exposure. 
  4. Dip the bare area of the cutting in a rooting hormone. Place it into some potting mix and lightly pack the soil around the cutting position.
  5. Water the potting soil completely.
  6. Cover the baby Begonias with a plastic bag with ventilation by poking a few holes in the bag. 
  7. Retain moist soil to ensure each fresh cutting gets a good amount of filtered sunshine. Leaflets will surface after a week or two.
  8. Shortly, the baby plants will grow into mature plants. After clusters of leaves and roots appear, carefully move these plants to their planters.
  9. In moist soil, allow 60 days for them to develop fully. During the first 40 days, roots will establish themselves.
  10. From 60 days, the baby plants can go into their own containers. Observe the plant care tips in this article to ensure the Peacock Begonias do well and thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Begonia Pavonina rare?

With over a thousand varieties and endless species and hybrids, the pavonina is one of the rarest based on origin. Yet, the rarest of Begonia is the Begonia baramensis, which has dark or close to black foliage lined with silver edge color.

How big does the Begonia Pavonina get?

These blue plants can grow up to 16 inches tall and eight inches wide.

Where can you find a Begonia Pavonina plant?

Besides originating in the hillsides of Malaysia, some indoor plant care nurseries might carry the Peacock begonia. If they don’t have any, the plant shop will probably find one and special order it. Online plant stores may also carry these somewhat rare plants.

Is Begonia Pavonina toxic to pets?

Yes. These beauties contain insoluble oxalate crystals that are toxic to pets, causing swollen mouth, tongue, nausea and vomiting. With that, keep them away from these houseplants.

Final Thoughts

Experts say Begonia pavonina plants developed their iridescent azure leaves to draw more energy in low-light environments. The fascinating attribute of iridescent blue leaves is visible as the light hits the leaves at a precise angle, resembling Peacock feathers.

Plant owners enjoy these beauties and add them to their collections when possible. The unique color makes them a remarkable piece of décor that draws conversations. Following this plant care guide, these houseplants will thrive and continue to shimmer in any room with proper lighting.

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