Leaf Drop on Begonia

Mike314November 12, 2012

I have a Clown Begonia (Begonia Maculata Wightii) which I purchase from the internet. Since I received it about 6 weeks ago it has put out about 5 or 6 new leaves. Once a new leaf gets to be 2 or 3 inches long it falls off the plant. Most of the time the end of the leaf is a clean break. Sometimes with the smaller leaves there is a pink ring around the base of the stem. This constricts and then the leaf falls off leaving a hollow stem end at the pink ring. Any suggestions as to what could be the problem?

Thank you!

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Well I don't know why nobody had anything to say about this. What type of Begonia is that? Like cane, tuberous, rhizomatous? Maybe nobody knows that particular cultivar name. How's it doing now?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 11:21AM
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maculata is a species cane from Brazil/Argentina - it has huge polka dots and is probably the parent of a lot of large polka dot canes.

Sometimes people don't answer because they don't have an answer to the question. There may be many reasons why a leaf falls prematurely but I don't know a thing about a pink ring around the petiole.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 1:26PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That's a good reason! Smiles!

If it's a cane, I can suggest that mine do this sometimes if I let them get too dry.

I thought the pink ring thing was being described as what is left on the stem where the leaf was, which sounds normal to me.

Maybe you could add a pic, Mike?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Yes, it is a cane type begonia. I have 4 cane begonias that I ordered on the web at the same time. They are the B. maculata Wrightii, B. Sophie Cecile, B. Pink Parade and B. Osota. I did have some leaf drop on the last 2, I suspect because the box they came in was left on our step for much of a day at 40 degrees. However, after their initial arrival there has been no leaf drop. The Sophie Cecile, the Pink Parade and the Osota are all growing nicely with a number of new leaves. The maculata Wrightii continues to drop its new leaves and after 4 months has dropped about 8 of them. It now has two less leaves than when it arrived. On the web site for GlassHouseWorks it lists the maculata as difficult and requiring perfect drainage. It certainly has very good drainage and I have been watering it very carefully from the bottom to make sure that it is neither too wet nor too dry. However, it hasn't helped a bit. I think it is just a difficult plant. It sure would be helpful to know ahead of time which are difficult and which are not. I even emailed the ABS to get some feedback on this but they have not responded.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:31AM
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Sorry, hope you are not losing it. Even with bottom watering, I often set a plant on a bunch of paper napkins (saved from take out places) and let it sit there until the napkins are barely damp, just to make sure there isn't too much water left in the pot. I don't think there is a 'general knowledge' place in ABS to ask questions of, wish there were. However, one thing to consider is that a 'difficult' plant might not be difficult in a different environment, depending on warmth, light and humidity and other factors, but I think you are on the right track watching the watering. Can you put a light weight produce plastic bag just over the top of the plant for a few days to help the humidity? I would call that 'babying' but would try it at my house. A wise lady of ABS used to recommend experiment, experiment, experiment - horticulture is not an exact science. . .

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Your new collection sounds lovely!

If new leaves are still forming, I wouldn't worry much about it. Going through the mail is quite a shock I'm sure, then the cold. Just coming inside for winter to much less light causes some of my cane Begonias to drop leaves. I'm confident they'll look great outside again next summer, as usual.

If the website said a plant requires perfect drainage, that's pretty much saying it's a fussy plant to me. But I wouldn't be bothered or scared about it, that's my goal for every pot. Excellent drainage: A state of being consistently moist w/o risking root rot from lack of air pockets.

If your soil is as well-drained as you think, the surface where most of the roots are may never be getting wet. Water can't really go UP through a coarse mix. There's no reason to do this if using a truly porous, airy, chunky mix. If you're putting multiple pots in the same water, the last one in will be exposed to all of the chemicals that flushed out of the previous pots. Just adding water to a drip tray is essentially sentencing a plant to sitting in waste water.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 3:22PM
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gregsytch(z9b Tampa Bay)

The change in growing conditions can also cause leaf drop, but do be careful on allowing the soil to stay too wet. Begonias ALL prefer a well-drained soil, and a light mix is recommended. If you would like to see more begonias, go to my blog at planetbegonia.blogspot.com. I grow hundred in my yard (Tampa Bay). The pink spot you are referring to is a tell tale sign of a plant struggling with too much moisture and probably, too little light at the same time. Greg Sytch A.B.S. Horticultural Correspondent

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 8:38PM
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Greg, I'd forgotten you are the Horticultural Correspondent for ABS. I'm glad you 'pick up' on sites like this to help beginners.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Yes, that's awesome!!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:19AM
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