Available in an enormous range of colours and patterns, this Begonia is one of the most popular indoor plants. The brightest colours and boldest patterns occur on the upper leafsurfaces, so the plant needs to be displayed where the foliage can be seen from above. It can be used effectively on its own and will also complement plants of a more subtle tone such as Ficus pumila, the Creeping Fig, which is a plain green, small-leaved trailing plant. Sadly, this Begonia is particularly susceptible to mildew and a close inspection for the disease needs to be made regularly. Mildew starts as small, discoloured spots on the leaves, so it is easy to falsely diagnose leafscorch before the white blotches appear, by which time the damage potential is considerably greater.

Plant type : Foliage plant with compact and somewhat horizontal growth
Season of interest : All year round
Size : 10-25cm (4 —1Oin)
Flower : Small, white to pale pink, insignificant, 1.3cm (1/2in)
Leaf : Roughly heart-shaped with crinkled edge, wide range of patterns and colours (silver, pink, purple, red and green), with small hairs on underside and on leaf stalks, 7.5-25cm (3-1Oin)
Temperature : 13-20°C (55—68°F)
Aspect/Light : Reasonably bright with some shade
Humidity : Average to high
Watering : Keep compost moderately moist throughout year
Feeding : Once every two to four weeks with houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer
Propagation : Lay leaf cuttings on surface of seed and cutting compost or peat and sand mix; or cut the leaf into postage stamp¬sized pieces and treat similarly in spring and summer at 21 °C (70°F)
Potting : Houseplant potting compost
Problems : Mildew, mealy bug, root mealy bug, botrytis, leggy growth in time
Availability : Freely available throughout year
Uses indoors : Excellent plant for table or slightly shaded windowsill; good for plant arrangements and bowls