How to Revive Your Distressed Angel Wing Begonia


The Begonia x corallina, commonly known as the Angel Wing Begonia, is an easy to care-for houseplant with leaves shaped like the wings of an angel (hence the name!). The underside of the leaf is usually dark red, and the upper side is covered with a dark green backdrop with white spots. 

An Angel Wing Begonia growing in suboptimal conditions will show signs of stress in the leaves: wilting, drooping, yellowing, and even dropping altogether. Also, stems will be bent and stretched out if there’s not enough sunlight.  

In this article, I’m going to cover the most common problems associated with the Angel Wing Begonia and what you can do to revitalize your plant to restore its natural beauty:

  • Overwatering
  • Leggy Stems
  • Leaves Yellowing
  • Leaves Dropping
  • Leaves Browning

Let’s get straight into it!

An Overwatered Begonia

The Angel Wing Begonia likes moist soil that can be felt by the fingertip pressing into the surface. However, it does not enjoy soaking in water, so avoid getting too excited by giving it too much of it. You need to allow the soil to dry in between watering.

A tell-tale sign of an overwatered Begonia is the leaves that turn yellow and begin to droop. After a while, the leaves will eventually fall off. While yellowing leaves are a symptom of several other issues, checking whether the plant is being overwatered is a good place to start.

What you can do

You need to check the base of the plant, so gently take the Begonia out of the pot to examine the soil and root conditions at the bottom.

If the soil base looks and feels soggy, your problem lies in poor pot drainage, insufficient aeration in the soil, or frequent watering.

To avoid an overwatered Begonia, make sure that you’re using a pot that has a few drainage holes. You can also improve soil drainage and airflow by mixing aerating additives into the soil, such as coconut fiber, vermiculite, and perlite. Alternatively, you can change the soil entirely to a more aerated potting mix from the nursery.

Leggy Stems

An Angel Wing Begonia will become leggy if it’s not getting enough sunlight. If the plant is placed in a location with poor lighting, it will stretch its stem to the light source. Take a look at this one:

As you can see, the plant has bent to one side towards what we can assume is probably the window. It’s directed itself away from the wall, and the leaves are facing towards the direction with lighting.

What you can do

There are two ways a leggy Angel Wing Begonia can be fixed: heavy pruning or propagating stems. Both methods will stimulate new growth and form a bushier plant.

Pruning your Begonia to a shorter height may give a bushier appearance faster because the roots have already been established.

However, depending on the severity of legginess of your Angel Wing Begonia, you will get a better result from propagating new stems altogether. For example, consider this heavily neglected Begonia:

In cases where the Angel Wing Begonia has become so stretched out that it looks like a bamboo stick, it’s better to propagate the stems to start new plants. The Begonia roots reasonably quickly in water, and you should be ready to be planted once the roots are a few inches long. Place the newly planted Begonia in a well-litted environment to avoid another case of legginess!

Leaves Turning Yellow

Diagnosis for the Begonia leaves turning yellow can be a bit tricky as yellowing leaves can be caused by several factors:

  • Natural Occurrence

If the Begonia is grown indoors, it’s normal for the leaves to start yellowing towards the fall as the plant enters into a state of partial dormancy. This is part of its natural growth cycle.

  • Underwatering/Overwatering

An underwatered Begonia means that the plant isn’t absorbing enough resources to carry out photosynthesis. It will start to lose its green color, turn yellow and begin to wilt.

On the other hand, excessive watering will cause the Begonia to experience moisture stress. The Angel Wing Begonia likes to be kept consistently moist, but soggy soil will lead to root rot followed by yellowing leaves.

  • Pathogens

Leaf spots of Begonia are caused by a pathogen called Xanthomonas. The first sign of the disease is the appearance of darkened spots and continues to spread to the rest of the plants causing the Begonia leaves to yellow.

What you can do

If the season is approaching the fall, you might need to just cut back on the watering and clean up fallen yellow leaves. This will prevent the growth of fungus in the decaying leaves.

If you don’t think the yellowing leaves are caused by season changes, reflect on your watering habits. Are you perhaps neglecting to water or pouring too much water?

Use a moisture meter to monitor the wetness level, and if the soil appears to be dry, gradually and slightly increase your watering patterns. The soil should be moderately moist but not soggy. Also, refer back to my earlier suggestions about overwatering earlier in this article.

As for treating Begonia pathogens, you need to remove infected leaves and clean your garden tools as the disease can spread. Also, avoid overhead watering as the pathogen can be transported via water vapors moving through the air.

Leaves Dropping

An Angel Wing Begonia dropping its leaves means that the plant is growing in sub-optimal conditions. The cause of leaves dropping is similar to the reasons mentioned above for yellowing leaves: over and under-watering, insufficient sunlight, and root diseases.

If your Angel Wing Begonia is not receiving adequate water and indirect sunlight, it won’t be able to photosynthesize and, therefore, cannot provide food to support itself. The food that it produces (glucose) is used for growth and repair. Without this, the Begonia cannot form cell structures to maintain its shape and support system, thus causing leaves to drop.

Another cause of dropping Begonia leaves is the Begonia Phythium Rot infection.

The Begonia Phythium Rot is a fungal disease that, once infected, will cause the stems to become waterlogged and collapse. The infection lives in the soil and becomes active when the soil is soggy, and the weather is cool. The fungus can travel through water moisture and infect nearby plants. Once the Begonia plant is infected by the fungal disease, it cannot be saved.

What you can do

The best thing you can do for your Begonia with weakened leaves is open the windows to allow plenty of air circulation and indirect sunlight. This will eliminate many potential problems relating to excessive water moisture, such as the Begonia Phythium Rot and any other rot to the stems and roots.

Leaves Browning

If your Angel Wings Begonia is showing brown and crunchy leaves along the edges, this is usually a sign of dehydration, and there can be several causes for this:

  • Insufficient watering

Needless to say, if the Angel Wings Begonia is not getting enough hydration, it will eventually dry up. If you see leaves browning, the plant is telling you that it desperately needs water.

  • Pot too large

If the container is too big for the plant,  the roots will not be able to reach the base of the pot to soak up the water. As a general rule, the ratio of the plant to pot height should be 3:1.

  • Pot bound

If the pot is too small, the roots may have overgrown and taken the entire space of the container. Therefore, there is not enough soil to hold the water to allow water absorption. To find out whether you need to repot your Begonia, check out this post.

  • Old soil

The soil might be too old and granular and needs to be repotted. Sandy soil will drain water too quickly and won’t allow the roots to take in the moisture. This means your Begonia will be constantly thirsty for water no matter how much you pour water into it.  

Dehydration: Browning and crunchiness along the edges of the leaves. Also signs of curling.

What you can do

Check the soil condition by taking the plant to the sink or outside and pour water into the soil. Observe how long it takes for the water to seep through the soil and drain out. If water leaks out of the pot within two seconds, then your problem lies within the pot. The soil is too sandy, or the pot is compacted with roots (pot bound). In either case, you need to repot the Begonia in a better moisture-holding soil or a larger pot.

If the soil seems to be holding water moisture adequately, you might just need to increase your watering frequency. Ensure to place the pot out of direct sunlight as this may cause the leaves to burn and produce browning edges.

Conclusion

The Angel Wings Begonia, Begonia x coralline variety, is one of the easier Begonia’s to grow indoors. However, it’s easy for any plant parent to take this hardy plant for granted and neglect its needs. This article has covered some of the most common symptoms of a distressed Angel Wings Begonia plant and what action you can take to revive it back to life. Take care of this Begonia, and it will spark up your room with its mesmerizing spotted foliage.

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AskthePlantician

Hi I'm Mike, a self-proclaimed plantician (an invented profession to describe a plant enthusiast). Based in Sydney Australia, I enjoy the great outdoors and the greenery things around the garden, in particular, indoor climbing plants.

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