begonia boys

Begonia boy is a relative of the striking polka dot plant, also known as Begonia maculata. Despite their peculiar appearance, begonia boys are modest, calm and gentle. They love hanging out in warm, humid areas, but hate getting their feet wet for too long (just like their closest plant relatives).

While many humans live with and care for their plant relatives across the world, begonia boys often ponder what will be left of their native home in southeast Brazil, the Atlantic rainforest, of which 87.6% has been destroyed since Portuguese colonizers arrived at the end of the 15th century (1400s). These gentle creatures are happy to feel humans’ love for their plant relatives, and hope for a future where people can cultivate the same love and care for themselves, for each other, and for the earth.

A Brief Intro to Begonia Plants 

Native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Central & South America, East, South, and South-East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, begonias are flowering plants known for their beautiful flowers and unique leaf textures, patterns, and colors. These plants have been loved by people around the world for centuries.

Colonial Histories & the Name “Begonia”

In the 17th century, the Dutch, French, and English began developing the system of overseas mercantilism, which entailed creating “colonies” around the world and exploiting the labor of Indigenous peoples of those areas and the land to import mass amounts of “raw materials” into their own countries, and to export products made from these materials for profit. With the growing number of wealthy Europeans traveling overseas, collecting “exotic” cultural and natural materials became a performance of wealth. This period marked the beginnings of the naturalist practices of collecting, naming, and displaying organisms. Today, we take for granted much of the systems of knowledge that were put in place by wealthy and powerful men partaking in these colonial practices. Linnaean taxonomy, the Western scientific system of naming and classifying all living things, is one example of the legacies of this time.

These colonial naming and collecting practices continued as European botanists and zoologists made a name for themselves through their collections (e.g., Albertus Seba, those mentioned below). In 1690, a French priest and “botanical explorer” named Charles Plumier came across a fibrous begonia in Brazil. He named it after his favorite botanist, Michel Begón. Begón was the public official of Saint-Dominique, a Carribean island of Hispaniola that was a French colony at the time (1680s). And so, when we say the name Begonia maculata, referring to the genus (Begonia) and species (maculata), we should be conscious of its long, violent colonial lineage. 

Caring for Begonia maculata


The polka dot begonia thrives in bright indirect sunlight. They will also be ok in partial shade. Too much sunlight usually burns the leaves, so refrain from placing it next to a window with a lot of direct sun.


These plants love a humid environment, however, their fibrous roots make them very susceptible to overwatering. If the soil feels dry when you stick your finger in it, it’s time to water. Pay attention to how your plant is reacting. A big sign for overwatering is if its leaves start yellowing, drooping, and falling off despite having recently watered it.


The ideal soil environment for these plants is one that is both able to retain moisture while also having great drainage. You can mix up coco coir and extra perlite into your soil to help with this. They also do well in leca, however, their delicate roots make it quite difficult to clean out all the soil, so it is an arduous process to successfully transfer them into the leca environment. 


You can fertilize your plant during growing season (Spring and Summer). At this time of year, a little bit of liquid fertilizer every watering (or once a month) can really help out with its growth. Make sure you pay close attention to the labels on the fertilizer so that you don’t end up making your plant companion sick with too much fertilizer!


Given their natural habitats, begonias like warmer temperatures. Your polka dot plant friend will be happiest between 65 - 86 degrees Farenheit (18-30 Celsius), but it can probably stand a little more heat as long as it is kept in the shade and has some moisture around it.

Harmful bugs and fungi 

 While these plants like humidity... so do fungi! Take care to keep their leaves dry, and to have some air circulation around the humidity to make sure the plant does not get powdery mildew. 

These plants are also susceptible to mealybugs and aphids, thrips, spider mites, and so on. Make sure to take time looking at your plant friend’s leaves, both the top and underside, near the veins, and soil every now and then to make sure these little bugs aren’t hiding in there somewhere. A bath with insecticidal soap every other week will also help avoid any issues with bugs taking advantage of the plant. 

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