How To Care For A Beefsteak Begonia (Erythrophylla)

If you’re a foliage lover, then this is a plant that’s going to be right up your street. If you’ve heard of the beefsteak begonia, I’m sure you are quite aware about the beauty and versatility that it offers. As with any plant though, it is important to ensure that they are well maintained and are cared for to maintain that beauty.

So, how do you care for a beefsteak begonia? Beefsteak begonias need well draining soil, that needs to be kept moist at all times. Keep it out of direct sunlight but ensure it gets plenty of indirect light. Don’t let the temperature drop too cold or hot, average home temperatures will be fine. Fertilize it only during the growing months but with very weak fertilizers.

Taking care of your begonia right isn’t difficult as long as you have the right knowledge. In this guide below, I’ve covered everything I’ve learned through my experience with the plant. Now I’ve put it all in one place so you can be successful caring for yours too.

Beef Begonia Care Summary

This is an attractive plant that comes with large sized and round shaped leaves. The flowers are small and pink, they look very elegant in any home. It’s also pretty low maintenance so you don’t have to spend too much time caring for it and still get some success.
One thing to consider though, it requires bright light but will wither away under direct sunlight. So bear this in mind during summer. Through winter, however, the plant would need around four hours of direct sun and of course as much bright light as possible.

Scientific NameBegonia Erythrophylla
Common NameBeefsteak Begonia
OriginGermany
Light RequirementsMedium to Bright Indirect Light
WateringRegular water, soil needs to be slightly moist at all times
SoilGood draining soil
TemperatureBetween 7 and 29°C (45 to 85°F)
FertilizerWeak liquid fertilizer
HumidityRegular humidity
FloweringPink flowers
PruningMinimal, just remove damaged/yellow leaves
PropagationDone via stem cuttings
Re-PottingEvery 1 – 2 years
ToxicityNot to humans but can be fatal for pets

Lighting For Your Beefsteak Begonia

You can easily grow the plant inside the home, provided it is able to get adequate light. It also grows quite well even if direct sunlight is filtered indirectly onto the plants. However, exposure to direct sun should be avoided during summer because it will for sure scorch the tender leaves.

Ideally you need to provide your begonia with plenty of bright, indirect light for it to thrive. So ensure you keep it out of sun-facing windows. You can give it some small amounts of direct sunlight during winter when the sun isn’t quite so strong. But you need to be careful about the time period for which the plant is exposed to it. At the very most the exposure shouldn’t go beyond three to four hours.

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Watering Your Beefsteak Begonia

Whilst your begonia plant is in its early stages of life, it should be watered frequently for the first two weeks. This will help the initial growth phase. But don’t let the water pool or become stagnant, ensure it’s draining well. Otherwise it’s like to lead to rotting of the roots and adolescent stems.

As it ages, you must water the plant thoroughly as soon as you find that top layer (around 1/2 to 1 inch) of the soil is dry. Usually as a marker to know I’ve watered it enough, I’ll wait until I see the water coming through the bottom of the planter.

Another thing to consider is the water itself. Ideally for the plant to flourish you want to be using water that has been left out overnight to help remove some of the impurities. If your tap water contains too much sodium it maybe be worth opting for bottled or distilled water. Also, you should never water your beefsteak begonia with cold or hot water, let it get to room temperature first. If you don’t do that, it could send the plant into shock.

Another one of the most important factors when it comes to watering is the potting soil, so let’s take a look at what you should be aiming for with that.

Planter Advice
One factor that we have to bear in mind that this is a rhizomatous plant, basically its a fancy way of saying it grows with a horizontal movement. So I’d always recommend using a wide pot for this plant to help give it the right amount of water for it to thrive. 

Soil For Your Beefsteak Begonia

Choosing the right soil is one of the most important as far as your begonia erytheophylla is concerned. With this plant, it’s better to opt for a soil-less mix that should be light and airy. African Violet potting soils premixes tend to work really well, such as this one on Amazon.

You have to bear in mind that the soil should not be too tight to allow the water to drain well. This helps stop the water from stagnating or standing still. So ensuring the soil is porous and loose is essential. If this isn’t the case, it will only be a matter of time before the roots start rotting.

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The risks are even more pronounced during the early stages of growth because the plants are simply not equipped or incapable of being able to withstand too much standing water. One perk about the beefsteak begonia though, is that it’s not too fussy about the quality of soil in comparison to other plants. So as long as it’s loose and drains well, you should have little problems.

Fertilizing Your Beefsteak Begonia

This is a plant that requires only light fertilization. So it should only really be used in the height of the summer growing months, if at all. Any typical houseplant fertilizer will do, like this one, but just ensure you take some extra precautions. By that I mean diluting it to less than 50% of its recommended strength. Then it should only be applied once every two to four weeks. As soon as you find that that the growth is slowing down, typically as the summer comes to an end, stop fertilizing it.

Humidity For Your Beefsteak Begonia

The good thing about this plant is that it can easily survive in a wide humidity range, so you don’t have to worry about this too much. However, the best humidity levels are around 50% for it. This will help ensure that the plant produces its usual, beautiful foliage.

How can you raise the humidity levels on drier days? This is a common question I get from family and friends. So here are simple tips that perhaps could help in this area. Keep the plant in a bright bathroom during cold season and this could help with the humidity quite significantly. Grouping of plants together is also recommended. However, give them enough space. Grouping them will increase humidity through their natural perspiration.

There are also some other simple ways by which humidity levels can be increased. You could go in for low-cost, low-tech but effective solution. For example, you could use a water tray that is filled with pebbles. The container of the plant should be placed over it. But when doing this, don’t forget that the soil should not be touching the water. This method leads to evaporation and helps increase the humidity in a small area. However, a room-humidifier is the best solution, though it’s quite a bit more expensive.

Propagation

There are few methods of propagating your beefsteak begonia, such as: Root ball division, water propagation, leaf cuttings, and herbaceous stem cuttings.

The easiest of course is doing it through the stem cutting method. All you have to do it cut 5 to 7 inches stem with the help of a sharp knife. It should be done during summer season or spring. Ensure that the stem is cut just below the junction of the leaf.

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Water propagation is also possible because many homes grow this plant in water. This is also simple. Once you see that the plant is growing larger in size, it can easily be transferred to the soil.

Flowering

This is a plant that you don’t truly appreciate its beauty until it flowers, it’s impossible to not love the pink flowers it produces. Flowering happens normally during the spring season and as long as you’re at least loosely following the advice I’ve given, you’ll be enjoying them every year.

Pruning Your Beefsteak Begonia

Pruning should be done as and when necessary without overdoing it. It can help in stimulating new foliage. Be sure to use the right tools for this aswell to damage your begonia as little as possible. The shears must be sharp but they also must be fully sterilized. Also ensure that you cut the leaf base at the exact point where the leaf meets the stalk.

Common Problems and Pests

Here are some common diseases associated with Begonia Erythrophylla, but one of the best preventative measures is applying neem oil like this one on your plants:

Bacterial leaf spot and blight – This is caused by areas that become water-soaked and is identifiable by yellow spots on the leaves. Cut away any leaves suffering from this to help prevent it spreading. Also make sure you thoroughly inspect the plant before you buy it to avoid bringing this disease home.

Botrytis Blight – This usually occurs when the temperature is cool and there’s too much humidity. Discard the affected parts of the plant, ensuring you keep the waste far away from any others to prevent spread. Closely monitor your plant after this as it’s likely to come back unless you adjust the humidity/temperature.

Now let’s take a look at some of the common pests:

Aphids – These can be controlled without too much difficulty. The main thing you need to do is ensure your plant is properly watered. However, if the concentration of aphids is quite large, then it may be necessary for you to use a mild insecticidal soap. This should be gently applied all over the plant leaf surfaces.

Slugs and snails – These easily be eliminated with the use of the right baits or pesticides. But I prefer avoiding the use of  pesticides on my indoor plants. Plus it’s not too often I find these pests entering my home. 

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