Spotted begonia light requirements


So I was gifted this plant 2 weeks ago. It is sitting beside an East facing window so gets some direct sunlight but not much, it was cloudy the last few days in Toronto. Some leaves started to dry out like in the photo. Is it too much or too little sun? Should I put it away from the window or use plant light bulb? I water it once a week and started using humidifier 2 days ago


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners about your spotted begonia, also known as Begonia maculata or polka dot begonia. It is likely struggling from the shock of inhabiting a new environment. As well, the brown leaf tips might be due to watering problems.

Strive to provide ideal growing conditions so the plant successfully adapts to its new home. Begonia maculata, being native to Brazilian rainforests, likes a warm, humid environment with bright, indirect or filtered light.

 Here are some suggestions to help your plant adapt to its new home.

  • The east facing window light may be suitable. I would implement the other suggestions and only change locations if the plant is still not happy.
  • Make sure the pot has good drainage holes, and that these are not blocked.
  • Do not let the soil dry out. Check soil moisture regularly, and water when the top two centimeters of the soil feels dry. Make sure the pot drains after watering. Do not let the pot stay sitting in water.
  • Continue using your humidifier.
  • Keep the plant away from any drafts, and prevent it from getting too cold. A window location could be too cold in winter.
  • Fertilize the plant with low strength (half recommended amount) general houseplant for a month or two, in case the soil is deficient in nutrients. Starting next spring after the fall/winter dormancy, fertilize regularly.
  • Poor soil quality, or being pot bound could be an issue. I would not repot until the plant appears comfortable in its new home, or a few months have passed, and it still looks poorly even though you have provided the right growing conditions.
  • Note that older leaves eventually get brown tips.

For more details on watering and other houseplant care advice, please consult our Toronto Master Gardeners Beginners’ Guide to Growing Houseplants.

I hope your polka dot begonia thrives in its new home. For more on begonia care, click here.

Sept. 28, 2022