Best Soil and Fertilizer for Begonia

Begonia flowers
Begonia Flower (Source: Unsplash)

The genuinely magnificent magic of mother nature is one ounce of Begonia seed can potentially produce 3 million seedlings. 

Begonia (buh·gow·nee·uh) are succulent perennial flowering plants with spectacular colorful leaves and vibrant flowers.

They are tender plants that need your help with soil and nutrients when kept indoors.

Generally, Begonia loves airy, well-draining acidic (5.2 to 6.0 pH) soil with proper moisture retention. They prefer organic matter or compost with extra perlite and peat moss. Meanwhile, it requires 20-20-20 balanced fertilizer once every two weeks during its growing season.

begonia plant on indoor potting soil
Begonia Plant (Source: Pexels)

To jazz up your place with its aesthetic beauty, you must provide light and fertile soil with moisture in check.

The roots and stems of Begonia are vulnerable to cold, and over wet soils, you must ensure they are intact.

So, read thoroughly to find out how to make the ideal soil mix for the Begonia plant and ways to keep them happy.

What Kind of Soil does Begonia Need and Why?

The Begonia plant is a genus native to subtropical and tropical climates containing more than 2000 species.

With its vigorous blooming and fabulous leaf, the Begonia plant is an excellent houseplant.

So, the best way to make your Begonia flourish is via mimicking its natural home.

The Begonia is fond of moisture and demands damp soil with proper drainage. The soilless potting mix with extra perlite and peat moss would be the optimal choice.

They grow best in light, fertile, and well-drained soil.

Begonia Grown from Seeds with proper fertilizer and soil
Begonia Grown from Seeds (Source: Reddit)

Generally, you can mimic its natural home indoors by controlling plant environments using lights, humidity, temperature, soil, and fertilization.

Here’s what you need to know to provide Begonia with dream soil.

FactorsSpecification
Soil TypeWell-drained and well-aerated potting soil
Soil MaterialA high-quality potting mix of organic and inorganic materials such as peat moss, perlite, coco coir, compost, etc.
Soil pH LevelSlightly Acidic (5.2-6.0 pH)
Soil CompactionAery, light soil
Soil Drainage1-2 inches per hour
TextureSandy loam
Water Retention Capability20-45%
Soil Temperature55°F-72°F (12.8°C-22.3°C)

Should not drop below 55°F during the night

Nothing less than 40°F (4.4°C) in fall and winter
Supplementary NutrientsBalanced proportion of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (20-20-20) with micronutrients such as magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, zinc, etc,
FertilizationEvery two weeks during its active growth and once a month in winter with ½ or ¼ strength liquid fertilizer
Soil ToxicityPesticide and fertilizer salts like Aluminum, Lead, and Chromated copper arsenate will lead to soil toxicity
Soil ChangeEvery 3 years during the spring time

1. Drainage Capacity of Begonia Soil

The Begonia is a thirsty plant that demands a well-draining soil mix that stays moist but not too wet.

Proper drainage is an absolute requirement as its roots are susceptible to rotting.

Begonia prefers faster draining soil (1-1.5 inches per hour) that can retain water for a long without getting soggy or too wet.

Soil drainage
Soil drainage (Source: UCANR)

For excellent water retention and drainage, you shall use peat moss and perlites in the potting mix.

Also, use a pot with multiple drainage holes at its bottom to let go of excess water.

Terracotta or clay pots are an excellent option that features natural water removal.

Moreover, you can add a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot to promote better drainage.

2. Soil Aeration

Like other indoor plants, the Begonia requires airy soil for easy access to oxygen.

Indoor pots do not have the luxury of hosting worms, so they tend to get compact over time.

The compact soil will cause air to dissipate and disappear, causing no or very little oxygen available for roots to breathe.

soil aeration illustration
Illustration for Soil Aeration (Source: Appropedia)

Lack of oxygen will cause the Begonia to wilt; roots will look stressed and break down over time.

According to a report, poor aeration of soil can reduce plant growth, followed by death due to modifications in roots capabilities.

As a result, aerating pot soils once in a while to rejuvenate oxygen levels will significantly help your plant.

You can easily aerate the soil. All you need is a blunt-edged stick.

Slowly puncture small holes in the soil with a stick without hurting the roots to loosen the soil.

3. Soil Texture and Structure

Soil texture and structure are crucial in optimizing other parameters as they decide major soil characteristics.

Generally, the garden Begonias are having a great day with sandy loam soil.

And indoor Begonias prefer sandy loam granular soil with peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. 

different soil texture
Soil Textures (Source: MRGScience)

Due to its thirsty nature, watering frequency is often. And it may lead to water clogging if soil drainage is not proper.

Moreover, typical garden clay can quickly become compact discouraging oxygen circulation towards roots. It leads to drooping and yellowing leaves.

Therefore, use light granular soil or soilless potting mix for the Begonia plant as they emphasize well-drainage.

Tip: You can add organic materials such as compost, bark, and wood chips to optimize overall soil quality.

4. Warm Soil Temperature

Soil temperature has great significance in plant growth as they influence soil moisture, aeration, and availability of nutrients.

According to research, soil temperature also influences root growth, resulting in overall plant wellbeing.

The Begonia plant is native to subtropical and tropical climates and often prefers to stay warm.

Soil temperature range
Appropriate soil temperature range (Source:  University of British Columbia)

Keeping indoor Begonias within 55 – 72°F soil temperature will be optimal.

However, do not allow the soil temperature to fall below 55°F though, as Begonias cannot tolerate cold temperatures.

That said, do not place the Begonia near a drafty window or heating or cooling appliances because it may wilt from temperature stress.

Moreover, you can use a digital thermometer near the Begonia plant to ensure uniform temperature most of the time.

5. Slight Acidic Soil

The Begonia prefers its soil to be slightly acidic because it aids in the breakdown of the nutrients in the soil that are available to the plant.

While excessively acidic soil will prevent nutrient supply to the roots, alkaline soil releases sodium into the soil.

Therefore, it is best to maintain the soil pH for Begonia between 5.2 and 6.

Ph meter to measure soil pH for optimal fertilizer
Checking Soil with pH Meter (Source: Pixabay)

Always check soil pH with a pH meter to ensure it is within the recommended range because soil pH affects the availability of nutrients.

Additionally, soil bacteria, toxic substances, and soil structure are other factors that can affect soil pH.

Note: The addition of organic substances like compost, pine mulch, leaf mold, sulfur, and ammonium nitrate will aid in achieving soil acidity.

Moreover, if you want to know more about the soil dynamics needed for plants, watch the following video.

6. Organic Matters and Nutrients 

The Begonia will adore you if you add compost to the soil as they are crazy eaters.

Organic matters such as compost, wood chips, bark, and mulching would make the soil more fertile.

However, be careful with mulching as Begonia roots get sick quickly due to wet conditions.

Soil mixed with Organic Material
Soil mixed with Organic Material (Source: Pexels)

Additionally, the use of bark improves soil moisture preservation.

There are two different soil nutrients promoting plant health. They are listed below.

NutrientsConstituents
Macronutrients Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Sulfur (S), Magnesium (Mg), and Calcium (Ca)
MicronutrientsBoron (B), Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), Molybdenum (Mo), Chlorine (Cl)

These nutrients build up in the wilderness through natural processes, but our potting soil does not.

Therefore, use certified organic fertilizers only to maintain the nutrients available for Begonia to feast upon.

Prepping the Soil/Potting Mix for Begonia

Other readymade potting mixes are available for Begonia for you to start easily.

Potting Mix
Potting Mix (Source: Pexels)

However, you can prepare a custom potting mix yourself at home. So, here is a detailed process to make the best mix.

Material Required

Let’s get the following materials before getting our hands dirty.

MaterialsFeatures
PerliteHelps increase aeration, low density, rot resistant
Peat MossImproves drainage, soil buffering capacity
VermiculiteHelps retain nutrients
CompostMakes the soil fertile
Coco CoirKeeps soil porous and light
Orchid BarkAllows proper air circulation

Here are the soil mix recipes for your Begonia.

Recipe 1

  • Two parts Perlite
  • One part of Coco Coir
  • Half part of the compost
  • Half part of sand
Preparing soil mix
Preparing soil mix. (Source: Unsplash)

Recipe 2

  • One part Perlite
  • One part Vermiculite
  • One part Peat Moss
  • Half part Orchid Bark
  • Half part compost
  • Half part sand

Ensure you are carefully mixing every portion as improper potting mix might murder your plant.

Also, you can always rely on a readymade soil mix. 

Common Signs that You are Using the Wrong Potting Mix

As plant parents, we ensure they are getting the best. And maintaining proper soil is one of them.

Therefore, you shall watch out for different signs your plant is potentially displaying to prevent damage.

Here, I have listed common signs of using the wrong potting mix.

  • A strange, unpleasant odor is coming off from the soil.
  • Due to a lack of proper circulation, white molds are forming on the surface.
Pests feasting on a leaf
Pests feasting on a leaf (Source: Pixabay)
  • Plant starts to host common pests such as mites, mealy bugs, and scales.
  • Fungal diseases such as bacterial leaf spots and Rhizoctonia crown rot attacks the plant.
  • Soil is dense, compacted, and can’t soak water quickly.
  • Soil has shallow water infiltration causing roots to rot.
  • The growth rate of plants will drop and freeze.
  • Plants’ foliage starts yellowing with severe drooping.

So, if you notice any of these signs, your potting soil has gone bad or is wrong potting soil.

Therefore, you shall consider preparing a new potting mix or buying one before any significant damage to your plant.

Best Soil Mix for Begonia: For Sale

To ensure no loopholes with Begonia soil, you can always rely on commercial potting mixes.

Some excellent potting mixes on the market promise to make your plant smile.

Here are some of the best Begonia potting mixes.

Potting MixBenefitsImage
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting1. Contains coconut coir
2. Good for container plants
Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix 8 Qt.
Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix1. Great water retention
2. Helps with watering issues
All Purpose Indoor Houseplant Potting Soil Mix1. Contains equal part of Perlite and Peat moss
2. Useful for many indoor plants
Espoma Organic Potting Soil1. Filled with finest organic nutrients
2. Promotes root growth
Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

Does Begonia Plant Need Fertilizers?

Begonias have a great hunger for nutrients, so frequent fertilization is necessary for them to thrive.

Generally, Begonia requires a slow-release balanced fertilizer with NPK ratio of 20-20-20 every two weeks during its growing season.

In contrast to most plants, the Begonia plant does not go dormant during winter.

Begonia seeds come from Flower
Begonia Plant Flower (Source: HGIC)

So, you need to keep your Begonia lightly fertilized throughout the winter.

Additionally, slow-release fertilizer tends to be less likely to burn plants and aids in sustaining nutrient levels over time.

Moreover, you can also use granular fertilizer as well with caution.

It will show some symptoms just in case you are unable to meet its fertilizing requirements, so be careful.

Signs your Begonia Needs Fertilizing

Begonia will display signs that they need nutrients, such as;

  • Yellow leaves lead to the whole leaf drooping.
  • The slow or no new growth of leaves.
  • The leaves look dull and have weak flower buds.
  • Leaves are curling up with yellow edges.
  • The plant suffers from interveinal chlorosis.
Brown Tip in Beefsteak Begonia
Brown Tip in Beefsteak Begonia

However, during its dominant period, Begonia does not consume nutrients much, so do not fertilize them often.

If you overfeed your Begonia, you will notice crispy brown spots, yellowing leaves, and wilting leaves with rotten roots.

Therefore, reduce fertilizing frequency during its dormant period to avoid overfertilization.

Fertilizers Content for Healthy Growth in Begonia

The essential nutrients for plants are generally the same regardless of the type of plant, though the proportions may vary.

There are 17 essential elements necessary for plants to reach their maximum potential. 

Among these, the fertilizer must contain the three essential nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Plant Nutrient Pyramid
Plant Nutrient Pyramid (Source: extension.umn.edu)

Based on their functionality, the nutrients are categorized into two categories. They are; macronutrients and micronutrients.

Here is a brief overview of nutrients, along with their roles.

NutrientsRoles
Nitrogen, NProvides energy to plant whenever they need it.
Phosphorus, PHelps in formation of new tissue and cell division.
Potassium, KPromotes root growth and drought tolerance.
Hydrogen, HHelps to build sugar and produces glucose.
Oxygen, OHelps in cellular respiration.
Carbon, CPromotes healthier and productive growth.
Calcium, CaProduces plant tissues and improves growth.
Sulphur, SHelps in formation of proteins, amino acids and oils.
Magnesium, MgSustains metabolic role in plants.
MicronutrientsPlays important role in photosynthesis and protein synthesis.

How to Fertilize Begonia Properly?

Please read the procedures listed below for fertilizing Begonias effectively.

  • First, put on gloves and scoop out slow-release fertilizer in small amounts.
  • Sprinkle slow-release fertilizer around the Begonia while making sure they don’t directly touch plants in any part.
  • Make sure you sprinkle a little around to cover most of the surface area.
  • Ensure the soil is moist afterward to boost microbial activity for faster breakdown of fertilizers.
  • Even though slow-release does not need water, you can use some when applying the fertilizer.
  • If you use liquid fertilizer, dilute them to their half strength before applying them.
Fertilizing the plant with Osmocote Fertilizer
Fertilizing the plant with Osmocote Fertilizer (Source: Amazon)

If you accidentally over-fertilized Begonia, you can use  Osmcote 14-14-14 or Nutricote 13-13-13 to reverse balance the overuse.

Best Begonia Plant Fertilizers to Use

You should use proper fertilizers with the right nutrients ratio for better plant growth. 

Here is the list of best fertilizers for Begonia.

FertilizersBenefitsImages
Osmocote Plus (NPK: 15-9-12)1. Effortless application
2. Provides required nutrients to the plant
Jobe's Fertilizer(NPK:8 -9-12)1. Easy to use
2. Works for many plants
Jobe’s Houseplant Food Spikes
Bonide Plant Food (NPK:10-10-10)1. Designed for houseplants
2. Efficient usage
Burpee Organic Bloom1. Organic plant food
2. Slowly releases nutrients
Miracle-Gro (NPK: 15-30-15)1. Easy to use
2. Prolific blossoms
Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Bloom Booster Flower Food 4 lb

Conclusion

Begonia plant roots are delicate and need special care because they are prone to rotting.

Therefore, it is crucial to provide them with well-draining light soil followed by balanced fertilizer in a consistent routine.

Hopefully, you got the best idea to maintain your Begonia happy.

Good luck!!

Want to know more about Begonia? Here are our articles about Begonia seeds and its flowers and its toxicity

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