Begonia Light Requirements: Everything You Need to Know

Begonia Dragon Wing Red
Begonia Dragon Wing Red (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Last month, I went to a local nursery to buy a plant. As soon as I entered, my eyes crash-landed on a plant with beautiful blooms. It was a Begonia.

Begonia (buh·gow·nyuh) is a famous house plant that people usually grow for their beautiful flowers. Due to its tropical roots, its light requirements are high.

Generally, Begonia requires bright indirect sunlight and grows best in partial shade (4 to 6 hours of direct morning/evening) sunlight. In addition, provide artificial lights for up to 14 hours during winter when grown indoors.

Begonia Plant
Begonia Plant (Source: Pxhere)

Caring for Begonia is not difficult because they have specific requirements that you can meet.

When it comes to light, we are here to help you. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Begonia lighting requirements.

Overview of Begonia

With more than 2000 species under its name, Begonia is a beautiful flowering plant that belongs to the Begoniaceae family.

These plants throw tantrums if the humidity is not up to the mark. So, if you can provide them with ample moisture in your house, you’re good to go.

Begonia Vector
Begonia Vector (Source: Pixabay)

But you should be careful with Begonia as they are toxic to pets and humans and can cause kidney injury.

Look below for the general overview of Begonia.

Common NameBegonia
OriginCentral and South-America
Family Begoniaceae
Plant TypeFlowering perennial
Growth Zone USDA hardiness zones 6 to 9
Growth SizeUnder 1 foot tall with nearly 4 inches wide flowers
Grown For Beautiful blooms
FoliageGlossy, oval green colored leaves
Blooms Ruffled, single or double flowers consisting of Petals, Pistil and Stamen
Blooming SeasonEarly summer to frost
Toxicity Toxic to pets and humans
Care Level Relatively easy
AvailabilityNot so rare

Begonias vary in blossom color and root type, ranging from storage tubers to stretching fibrous extensions.

These bushy plants prefer partial shade, but some varieties prefer full sunlight.

The light required depends on various other factors like watering, temperature, etc.

How Much Light does Begonia Need?

Begonia has varying light requirements, which depend on the type of Begonia.

Most varieties of Begonia thrive in partial shade (4 to 6 hours of direct morning sun per day) or filtered sunlight. 

Most tolerate full shade (no direct or filtered sunlight) but will be less dense and have fewer flowers. A few thrive in direct sunlight.

For instance, Bronze-leaf wax Begonias (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum) are among the few cultivars that require full sun.

Similarly, some hardy Begonias (Begonia evansiana) and tuberous Begonias (Begonia x tuberhybrida) have delicate leaves that can be damaged by direct sunlight.

Begonia evansiana growing in full sun
Begonia evansiana growing in full sun (Source: RHS Gardening)

These varieties thrive in the morning sunlight and dappled afternoon light. Moreover, most Begonia varieties with wing-shaped leaves are sun-tolerant.

For instance, Begonia “Dragon Wing Red” (Begonia “Bepared”) thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers afternoon shade in hot environments.

In addition, Begonia x benariensis Big Series prefer dappled sunlight throughout the day, though they will grow in full sun.

Similarly, you can grow fibrous and rhizomatous Begonia indoors as they do not focus a lot of their energy on flowers.

If you place your Begonia outside, they can succumb to frost and relatively cold weather. So, consider the weather and season before moving your plant out.

The best time to move the plant outside is during spring. Even then, you need to provide them with dappled/filtered sunlight.

If there is no light, your Begonia will die in 14 to 20 days.

Begonia can also survive in full shade, but the flowers will not bloom, and the foliage will not be as dense as you want them to be.

If you want to grow Begonias indoors, ensure they get bright indirect sunlight.

How to Ensure Optimum Light for Begonia?

Indoor plants show different reactions to different types of light. The flowers, foliage, and even the striations in the plant depend on the light they get.

The same is for Begonia; how the plant grows is determined by various light-related factors.

Whether you keep your plants outdoors or indoors is also pivotal in the plant’s growth.

1. Light Intensity

Light intensity is one of the four pillars of the light requirement for plants, along with duration, quality, and location.

Most of the time, light intensity is proportional to Begonia’s distance from the light source.

For Begonia, a light intensity of 400FC (~4300 lux) is perfect for growth. At the same time, it requires an intensity of at least 200FC (~2150 lux).

Photosynthesis Graph
Relation Between Photosynthesis and Light Intensity (Source: Biology-IGCSE)

If you are growing Begonia for production purposes, keep the light intensity in the range of 2000FC to 2500FC (~21525 lux – ~26900 lux) to ensure better yields.

If the light intensity is high, the plant will have more density, but its foliage will dim down in color than usual.

Similarly, if the light intensity is too low, photosynthesis will not happen smoothly in the plants.

2. Light Duration

The plant’s appearance is determined by the time it is exposed to light. It would be best to consider different factors like morning and evening light.

Although Begonia is not affected by the photoperiod, you need to consider the duration while placing the plant in any location.

Generally, Begonia can tolerate up to 6 hours of morning/evening sunlight during summer. They do best in filtered sunlight.

Light duration may depend on the plant type
Filtered light for plants (Source: Unsplash)

During the daytime, Begonia can survive up to 2 hours of sunlight. Anything more than that can damage the plant.

Tuberous Begonia is an obligate long-day plant which means they will flower only if the days are longer and nights are shorter.

Similarly, wax Begonia flowering does not depend on the duration of light they get.

3. Light Quality

Light quality is usually associated with artificial grow lights rather than natural sunlight.

You can tweak the light quality to make the plant grow as you like it. Different colors emitted by light have different effects on the plant.

Generally, Begonia prefers 3000k color temperature when it is flowering and 4000k to grow its foliage.

Color Temperature Chart
Color Temperature Chart (Source: Illumi)

We have mentioned different light colors, their wavelength, pros, and cons in the table below.

Light ColorsWavelength RangeFeatures
Violet380-430nmPros: Enhances plant fruits and color
Cons: N/A
Blue430-500nmPros: Promotes thick leaves and assists with photosynthesis
Cons: Suppresses extension growth
Green and Cyan500-565nmPros: Helps the plant reach its full potential
Cons: Not absorbed properly by chlorophyll
Yellow565-580nmPros: Helps with photosynthesis
Cons: Seeds with overexposure to yellow light don't produce carbohydrates and thus have limited growth
Orange580-625nmPros: Acts as a catalyst to increase flowering and budding
Cons: Not much importance in plant's growth
Red625-740nmPros: Regulates growth and development
Cons: Makes plant leggy and the leaves elongated
Far-Red740-10,000Pros: Helps with seedling or germination process
Cons: It can discolor the plant and even kill it
UV Ray<380Pros: In safe doses, it enhances plant growth
Cons: Bleaching or scorching of plants

Visible blue light (400-550nm) and visible red light (625-700nm) are useful wavelengths for Begonia plants.

Read this article to have a deeper understanding of light colors “What Light Color is Best for the Plant’s Growth?”

4. Location For the Plant

Tropical plants, like Begonias, are picky about where they are planted.

 In its native area, Begonia grows in a moist climate, so you must try your best to place them in similar locations in your home.

The best location where Begonia will flourish is a south-facing or west-facing window. It would be best to shade them using drapes and curtains.

Houseplants thrive best in indirect sunlight
Houseplants thrive best in indirect sunlight (Source: Giphy)

East-facing windows are also ideal for Begonias as they provide bright indirect light at 10,000-20,000 LUX the whole day.

You need to rely on curtains to protect them from the harsh sunlight.

You can also plant Begonias in shady gardens, patios, porches, and patios. If you want to place your Begonia outdoors, provide them shade through trees.

If you place your Begonia in the east-facing window, you might not have to shade them.

Signs your Begonia Requires More or Less Sunlight

There are various types of Begonia; to simplify things, Begonia is divided into two types: One that focuses on leaves (Rhizomatous) and the other on flowers (Tuberous).

The required light depends on the type of Begonia, as tuberous Begonia requires a bit more light than rhizomatous Begonia.

Begonia plants are famous for being low-light houseplants. Most Begonias can grow well in partial shade.

Begonias
Begonia plant (Source: Unsplash)

So, being a low-light plant has a downside. Your Begonia won’t be able to handle too much sunlight.

Keep an eye out for signs of less or more sunlight on the plant.

Signs of Light Deprived Begonia

Even if your Begonia prefers a shaded area, sometimes the light may not be enough. In such conditions, look for the following signs in your plant.

  • Your Begonia will show etiolation as the stems stretch, searching for a prominent light source or toward a light direction.
  • You will not get to see your Begonia flower due to the lack of energy required to flower.
  • The leaves will lose their color, and the plant will have stunted growth.
Yellowing Begonia
Yellowing Begonia (Source: Reddit)
  • You may also witness the leaves falling off after a prolonged time as yellow leaves.
  • The leaves will be smaller than the regular ones.
  • Inadequate sunlight can cause powdery mildew, a fungal disease in Begonias
  • Due to the lack of chlorophyll and photosynthesis, the typical plant functions will not happen, and the plant may even die.

Signs of Light Saturated Begonia

Begonia will show you the following signs as they dislike excessive sunlight.

  • The leaves will lose their prominent color.
  • Your Begonia will have a wilted and droopy appearance and look like it is out of energy.
Droopy Begonia
Droopy Begonia (Source: Reddit)
  • Too much harsh sunlight can burn the tips and edges of the plant.
  • You will also notice some sun spots on the leaves of the plant.
  • The foliage will change color to yellowish-white due to leaf bleaching.

Solution and Preventive Measures

Follow the measures below to protect your plant from damage and heal them if any light-related problem is diagnosed.

  • If your plant is getting excessive sunlight, move it to where it gets bright but shaded light. Watering it sufficiently can reduce the sunlight damage.
  • Move your plant to a suitable location if the light it gets is insufficient.
  • Provide your plant with suggested hours of the morning sun. Light filtered through trees is also great for the plant.
  • Protect your plant from mid-day sunlight as they are harsh and damaging for the plant.

Does Begonia Grow in Artificial Light?

As a shade-loving plant, your Begonia may not show much distress due to the lack of light.

But sometimes, when the natural light is not up to the mark, you will have to find salvation in the artificial lights.

The same is the case with Begonia; in the absence of natural light, they can grow in artificial grow lights.

Plant under Grow Lights
Plant under Grow Lights (Source: Science ABC)

Unlike many low-light plants that need a light source as close as 3 inches, Begonia can do well if the light source is up to 12 inches away.

But, only take shelter from artificial light when the natural light is not available.

There are three types of artificial lights you can use for a plant. They are;

  • Incandescent Light: Best during winter as they produce a good amount of heat. But they are not so energy-efficient, so they are expensive.
  • Fluorescent Light: Has a long life compared to other lights. Also very energy-efficient.
  • LED Light: They are too expensive but last longer and are more energy-efficient than other types of light.

When it comes to Begonia, they prefer Fluorescent and LED lights.

Grow lights for Indoor plants
Grow lights for Indoor plants (Source: Wayfair)

The trick is to let the plants bathe in a few hours of the morning or evening sunlight and keep them in grow lights for the rest of the day.

To fulfill Begonia light requirements, you must keep the plant in artificial light for at least 14-18 hours a day.

Any light that emits red and blue lights is suitable for Begonia as they can the photosynthesis. You may need to resort to infrared light to make the plant flower.

You might want to buy some artificial lights for your Begonia. Don’t worry; we have prepared a list for you.

Grow LightsFeaturesProduct Image
Grow Light, Ankace 3 Head Timing1. Best combination of blue and red light
2. Easy to setup and use
Plant Grow Light, 60 LED Grow Lamp1. Full Spectrum
2. With levels of brightness
Hawanik LED Grow Lights1. Highly Efficient
2. Dimmable and easy to adjust lights
GooingTop LED Grow Light1. 6000K White light
2. High Efficiency

The Bottom Line

Begonia is a lovely houseplant to grow indoors, with numerous varieties to choose from.

You can choose between flowering Begonia and Begonia with excellent foliage. So put on your gardening goggles and get ready for planting.

However, ensure that the lighting condition is correct to witness vibrant, green foliage and stunning blossoms.

Good luck!

Want to read more about Begonia? Read the articles on Begonia seeds, Beefsteak Begonia, and Begonia toxicity

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