So your lovely begonia isn’t looking as beautiful as it always has been?
Whether your leaves are turning brown and crusty around the edges or becoming pale and yellow, it means your begonia needs some help!
Begonias are gorgeous plants; they’re grown indoors or outdoors for their vivid colored flowers and their stunning foliage. However, that beauty requires specific care. If your plant isn’t getting what it needs, you’ll notice some changes.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about yellowing begonia leaves and how to prevent them.
Why Are Your Begonia Leaves Turning Brown?
Begonias are well known for their unique white-spotted foliage. However, in some conditions, the edges of the leaves may turn brown, wilt, and become crispy or fragile.
The earlier we identify the cause of the problem, the easier it will be for your plant to recover.
1 – Underwatering
The most common cause of brown leaves is underwatering. In other words, your begonia is thirsty!
Begonias constantly need the right amount of moisture. The soil shouldn’t be soggy or overwatered, but it shouldn’t be dry either.
If the soil is loose and dry to the touch, stick your finger in the soil to the first knuckle; If it’s completely dry, it means your plant needs watering.
You can also tell by the weight of the pot, as dry soil is much lighter than a wet one. Moreover, wilting and leaf drops are signs of underwatering.
2 – Low Humidity and Dry Weather
As mentioned above, begonia loves consistent moisture, and high humidity provides just that.
So, in dry areas, it’s recommended to mist your begonia. A humidifier can also help a lot, especially if you have more than one begonia.
In scorching hot weather, misting your begonias daily is essential for their health to keep the humidity level healthy. It’s better to use mineral water for that, though.
Bear in mind that in normal weather conditions, misting your begonia can be harmful and may lead to overwatering. So, make sure to only do it in hot weather.
3 – Sunburn
Begonias love the shade; prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can be extremely harmful to them, and the leaves can get sunburnt.
Sunburns leave brownish patches all over your leaves. Eventually, the patches dry out and become fragile.
If you notice brown spots from sunburn, it’s crucial to change the location of your plant to a darker place, away from direct sunlight.
Why Are Your Begonia Leaves Turning Yellow?
Overwatering your plant may cause discoloration of the leaves, either to brown or, more commonly, to yellow.
1 – Overwatering Your Begonia
The yellowing of begonia leaves commonly happens due to overwatering. Letting your plant stay in soggy soil and without proper drainage holes can cause the leaves to turn yellow, and they may eventually drop off the plant with limp petioles.
In addition to discoloration of the leaves, you will find that your plant is wilting while the soil is wet to the touch. That means your plant is getting too much water. You may also find mold growing in the soil.
To keep it simple, make sure the drainage holes aren’t clogged. To do so, water your plant, then wait a couple of minutes until water comes out.
You also shouldn’t water your plant unless the first two inches of the soil have dried through.
It’s worth noting that overwatering isn’t the only cause of yellow leaves; underwatering will cause it too. However, in this case, the leaves will turn pale green first before wilting into a yellow color and eventually dying.
2 – Diseases and Pests
Bacteria and fungi can cause various diseases to your plant. That’s another reason your begonia leaves may be turning yellow. This often manifests as weak spots surrounded by a yellow halo.
Begonias attract many pests that cause discoloration of leaves; you may control these pests by spraying insecticidal soap, diluted at only five tablespoons per gallon of water.
You should also inspect your plant thoroughly before purchasing. You don’t want to buy an infected plant as it’s relatively difficult to cure.
Removing infected leaves, keeping the leaves dry, and removing debris will stop the infection from spreading, but if the bacterial infection is too severe, the plant might not be saved, and it’s best not to buy it.
3 – Inadequate Sunlight
As much as begonias hate the sun, they’re a plant, after all! They need an appropriate amount of sunlight to maintain their normal functions, including absorbing water from the soil.
To keep it simple, no sunlight means no photosynthesis, causing an accumulation of water in the soil, which leads to illness signs, like discoloration of the leaves.
Place your begonia in a place that has indirect sunlight; direct sunlight can sunburn your leaves.
How to Properly Water a Begonia to Prevent Brown Leaves
The best watering method for begonias is bottom-watering, as it will only allow the right amount of water to be saturated into the soil. That way, you’re neither overwatering nor underwatering your plant.
You can bottom-water your begonia by following these steps:
- Fill a sink or a tub with water to about one-third of your pot’s height
- Place your pot in the water
- Let it soak for at least 45 minutes
- Stick your finger in the soil for about 3 inches deep. If the soil isn’t moist, let the pot soak until it’s moist.
- Drain the sink or the tub and leave your plant to drain the excess water for about 30 minutes
It’s advised that you check the drainage holes in your pot and make sure they’re not clogged. Additionally, avoid using hot water for watering the plant; keep it at room temperature.
How Often Should You Water Your Begonia?
Begonias need watering every two to four days, depending on the humidity and temperature levels around.
That said, you should only water your begonia when you find that the soil isn’t moderately moist. So, when the weather is cold, you should water the begonia less frequently because the soil will retain more moisture. Likewise, in the summer, the plant needs watering more frequently.
In winter, you can check your plant only once a month, as your begonia goes through the dormancy phase and doesn’t require much water.
If you’re a forgetful person, it’s best to set a reminder to check the soil’s moisture every couple of days to make sure the plant is receiving enough water.
Begonias are among the most beautiful indoor plants that are fairly easy to grow for beginners. Their leaves are the main attraction due to their colorful nature and unique texture.
There are many reasons for the leaves to change color: overwatering, underwatering, humidity, infections, and pests are the most common ones.
However, they’re fairly easy to combat with proper maintenance of your plant, just by following these points:
- Keep the begonia in a moist, humid environment
- Place the pot in a place with indirect sunlight
- Water your begonia only when the first three inches of the soil are dry
- Always make sure that the pot’s drainage holes are unclogged
- Inspect your plant periodically for infections and pests
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.