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Begonia Gryphon

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The Begonia Gryphon plant is an upright, mounding, evergreen perennial noted for its eye-catching foliage and durability. It produces large, thick, glossy green, palmate leaves, adorned with a silver overlay. Both their undersides and slender stems are deep orange-red, adding pleasing contrast. They are pretty fast growers;  growing 12 to 16 inches in height with a 16 to 18-inch spread. I can confirm this as I have one in the center of our dining room table and it’s slowly taking over.

Many people know them as an outdoor plant, but they are wonderful plants to grow indoors as well. When it comes to begonia’s it can quickly get confusing. There are over 1,500 species and over 10,000 hybrids of begonia in existence today. I was lucky enough to get this one. I first spied it at the plant nursery here in town. Bob and I frequent there during the summers to enjoy a glass of ice tea while we walk through all the plants.

I spotted the uniqueness of this one but it “felt” intimidating so I left it right where I saw it.  The next day, Bob came home with a surprise for me… this plant! Oy-vey. I don’t know what it is about that scared me but I surely thought that it was going to be a drama queen. Much to my delighted surprise, it is soooooo easy to care for.  It’s kind of a lone-wolf, doesn’t require any special attention, other then it starts to drop a tad when thirsty.  It has done nothing but grows. Now that’s my kind of plant!

Light Requirements

This plant is not in favor of direct sun. This is because the leaves are sensitive to getting scorched. In their natural habitat, most Begonias grow undercover. I find that mine does perfectly well in on my dining room table which is near a North facing window. The lighting is naturally diffused and never received direct light.

Water Requirements

From spring-fall you will need to water this plant often. Keep the soil moist to the touch slightly, but do not over-water. During winter cut down watering and allow the topsoil to become dry to the touch before watering again. I will share that this plant can freak a person out though.

I used to have it placed in another room, where I had a harder time keeping an eye on it. I missed a watering and all the stems bent over, I mean OVER! I thought for sure it was a goner. I quickly watered it and even put water in the bottom of the cover pot so the roots could really get a good drink. (if you do this, be sure to dump out any water that hasn’t been absorbed after 20 minutes. Within a day, the stems sprung back up and life was happy once again.

Temperature Requirements

Average room temperatures of 55 – 75 degrees (F) are best suited for Begonias…and no less than 55 degrees (F).

Fertilizer – Plant Food

I fertilize every 4 weeks during the growing season (Spring-Fall) with a 1/2 strength diluted complete fertilizer. They can be sensitive to chemicals tough. So I highly recommend using an organic plant fertilizer on them, rather than synthetic ones. If you overfeed a plant, you can remove the houseplant from its current soil and repot it in fresh soil. This technique is undoubtedly the best way to get rid of the excess nutrients affecting your plant. Alternatively, you can flush the soil, which involves drenching the soil with water and letting it drain out. Repeat this several times to help the soil get rid of excess fertilizer.

Additional Care

Plant Characteristics to Watch For

Diagnosing what is going wrong with your plant is going to take a little detective work, but more so… patience! First of all, don’t panic and don’t throw a plant out prematurely. Take a few deep breaths and work down the list of possible issues. Below, I am going to share some typical symptoms that can arise. When I start to spot troubling signs on a plant, I take the plant into a room with good lighting, pull out my magnifiers, and begin by thoroughly inspecting the plant.
The leaves are looking faded.
  • If the leaves start to turn white, faded or look like they’re burning, then that means it’s getting too much sun.
  • Solution – Move the plant to a shadier location.

The stems are getting leggy.

  • If the stems start to grow leggy and reach for the window, then they’re not getting enough light.
  • Solution – Move it closer to the window, or add a grow light.

Leaves turning brown.

  • Most of the time, brown leaves means they aren’t getting the right amount of water (usually under watering). But can also be caused by lack of humidity or extreme temperatures (freezing or sunburn).
  • Solution – Ensure the soil stays consistently moist, and run a humidifier next to them if the air is dry.

Leaves turning yellow.

  • This is usually caused by overwatering, but in some cases could be due to a fungal disease or lack of light.
  • Solution – Ensure the soil is not wet or soggy. If you suspect disease, prune off the yellow leaves, give your begonia better air circulation (an oscillating fan works great indoors), and never water over the top of the leaves.

My plant is dropping stems and/or leaves.

  • When a begonia starts dropping leaves and stems, it’s usually because of too much water (especially during the winter). But it could also be from exposure to cold temps, or moving the plant around too much.
  • Solution – Check the soil to see if watering is the suspect.  Otherwise, ask yourself, “Is the plant near a cold draft?” If so, move the plant.

Leaves turning white.

  • White or faded leaves usually happens when they are getting too much direct sun.
  • Solution – Move it to a location where it gets bright, indirect light inside.

The leaves are curling.

  • This can be caused by a number of problems. First, check to make sure there aren’t any bugs on the leaves. Otherwise, it could be due to lack of humidity, improper watering, or too much sun or heat.
  • Solution – Put your detective hat on and start ruling away things as you work down the list.

Wilting or drooping leaves.

  • Droopy leaves is usually caused by under-watering. But it could also happen after the plant has been repotted.
  • Solution – reassess the watering schedule and back down so you don’t overwater. Remember, each plant has its own watering schedule.  If you just repotted the plant, give it some time and see if it bounces back.

Common Bugs to Watch For

If you want to have healthy house plants, you MUST inspect them regularly. Every time I water a plant, I give it a quick look-over.  Bugs/insects feeding on your plants reduces the plant sap and redirects nutrients from leaves. Some chew on the leaves, leaving holes in the leaves.  Also watch for wilting or yellowing, distorted, or speckled leaves. They can quickly get out of hand and spread to your other plants.
IF you see ONE bug, trust me, there are more. So, take action right away. Some are brave enough to show their “faces” by hanging out on stems in plan site. Others tend to hide out in the darnedest of places, like the crotch of a plant or in a leaf that has yet to unfurl.

Toxicity

Begonias are toxic to pets, with the tubers being the most poisonous part. They are not toxic to humans, although may cause allergic reactions.

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