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Why Is Begonia Dying? (And How To Revive It)

Begonias come in many shapes and sizes, with some boasting stunning flowers and others drawing attention with their striking leaves. Today, let’s dive into why these plants sometimes struggle and how you can nurse them back to health.

The usual suspects behind a begonia’s decline include overwatering, excessive sunlight, poorly draining soil, and unsuitable temperatures. To help your begonia bounce back, ensure the soil remains moist (but not waterlogged), avoid placing it in direct sunlight, and maintain an ambient temperature between 65 °F and 75 °F (18 °C to 24 °C).

Next, I’ll cover the signs to watch for that can help pinpoint the reason your begonia is under the weather. Keep in mind, the advice provided here covers the most commonly grown begonias, both indoors and outdoors.

Too Much Water

begonia dying

Begonia is dying because of overwatering.

Many seasoned gardeners agree that overwatering is a frequent error. While begonias do prefer their soil to be moist, it’s crucial not to keep it wet all the time.

Signs that you’ve been overwatering include yellowing leaves and burnt edges. This happens because overly wet soil causes the roots to rot, preventing them from absorbing the necessary nutrients and water. Additionally, overly damp soil can lead to mold and fungus on the surface, which isn’t great for your indoor plants.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Only water your begonias again when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch.
  2. Make sure the water can freely drain out of the pot’s bottom. Check that the drainage holes aren’t clogged.

Too Much Sirect Sunlight

Sunburn

Begonia is dying because of sunburn.

Rex begonias, known for their unique leaves, are popular indoor plants that thrive in low light, making them perfect for places like bathrooms. However, too much sunlight can damage their leaves, leading to dehydration, while insufficient light can sap their energy, resulting in minimal growth and stunted development.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Place your begonias in an area where they can enjoy bright, indirect sunlight.
  2. During the summer, shift potted begonias away from direct sun exposure.
  3. If necessary, move or repot your begonias to avoid them being in complete shade constantly.

Temperature Stress

begonia dying

Begonia is dying because of temperature stress.

Begonias can find both the summer heat and winter chill challenging. High temperatures may cause them to wilt and their leaves to dry out and shrivel, while cold conditions can stunt their growth as they struggle to move nutrient-rich water through their stems and leaves.

Although begonias typically withstand cool temperatures without dying, unless exposed to frost or sub-freezing conditions, prolonged cold can lead to leaf damage, especially when combined with other stress factors.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Maintain an environment where the temperature stays between 65 °F and 75 °F (18 °C to 24 °C).
  2. In warmer conditions, ensure they have plenty of airflow.
  3. Protect them from cold drafts in cooler months.

Pest Insects

begonia dying

Begonia is dying because of pest infestation.

Begonias can fall victim to pest infestations and mold issues that outpace their growth. Pests can devour the plant, while mold spores on the leaves can consume the foliage and obstruct sunlight. Spotting insects usually involves a visual check of both the stems and leaves, especially the undersides where pests like mealybugs, a common begonia irritant, love to hide.

Powdery mildew and mold patches are also visible on the leaf surfaces. Fortunately, these problems are relatively straightforward to manage.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Regularly remove any dead leaves and flowers to reduce pest populations.
  2. Apply insecticidal soap to keep pest numbers in check.
  3. Use isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab to directly eliminate pests.
  4. For mold issues, a copper fungicide spray can be effective.

Soil

Underwaterign

Begonia is dying because of underwatering.

Garden soil can often be too dense and compact for begonias, but if you’re lucky enough to have soil that is dark, rich, and crumbly, it might just be suitable. Nonetheless, for the best results, opting for a potting mix or commercial compost is usually the safer bet for begonias.

In humid environments, where the air holds more moisture, incorporating a bit of perlite into the soil can help prevent it from becoming overly saturated. You can tell if your soil isn’t quite right for begonias by observing their leaves, which may turn pale and develop dry, dead edges if the soil is either too compact or too loose.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Transplant them into a suitable potting mix or commercial compost.
  2. In humid areas, mix in a little perlite to improve drainage and prevent over-moisture.
  3. Choose pots with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.
  4. If dealing with fast-draining soil, apply a layer of organic mulch to help retain moisture around your begonias.

Too Much Fertilizer

begonia dying

Begonia is dying because of overfertilization.

Feeding begonias with fertilizer can indeed boost their growth. Yet, overdoing it or fertilizing too frequently can backfire, damaging the delicate root hairs and impairing nutrient absorption.

Symptoms of fertilizer overload include yellowing leaves with dead patches, as well as edges that turn light brown and crispy. On the flip side, begonias signaling a need for nutrients will have leaves that appear faded or pale.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Pause any further fertilization until your begonias show signs of recovery.
  2. Apply a slow-release, all-purpose fertilizer to your begonias at least once a year.
  3. Limit fertilizing to no more than once every 1.5 to 2 months to prevent over-fertilization.
  4. If you’ve over-fertilized, flush the soil with plenty of water to remove excess salts, or consider repotting the plant into fresh soil.
  5. Annually, enrich the soil with organic matter to support healthy begonia growth.