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Propagating Begonias: A Colorful Guide for Your Garden

Begonias are diverse, colorful flowering plants known for their showy foliage and low-maintenance care requirements. Some begonias produce big clusters of bright, glossy flowers, while others boast intricately patterned leaves.

Because they don’t need much sunlight, begonias are perfect for filling shady spots in your garden. You can also grow potted begonias indoors as houseplants.

And begonias are also one of the easiest plants to propagate from leaf and stem cuttings. Propagating plants from cuttings is not only a cost-effective way to multiply your existing plants. It can also be fun and super satisfying!

Read on to learn all about the different methods for propagating begonias, including step-by-step instructions and answers to common questions.

propagating begonias

Supplies Needed for Propagating Begonias

The first step for propagating begonias is to collect the supplies that you will need.

Read on for a simple list of necessary supplies and some links to buy anything that you don’t already have on hand.

Clear Jars (for Method #1: Propagating Leaves in Water)

When propagating begonia leaves in water, use clear glass jars. Clear glass allows the growing roots to absorb sunlight as they develop in the water. Opaque or tinted glass will not work nearly as well for water propagating any kind of plants.

If you already have some clear glass jars on hand, great! Just make sure to thoroughly clean repurposed glass jars that previously contained other materials before using them for propagating begonias.

You can also purchase clear glass craft jars for this purpose or even an attractive and space-saving wall-hanging propagation kit.

Trays and Plastic Covers (for Method #2: Propagating Stem Cuttings)

For propagating begonia stem cuttings, you will need containers in which to plant them. Small pots with a two to three-inch diameter should be sufficient.

To keep the growing medium moist, you will also need some sort of plastic to create a mini hothouse around your tray or pot. A clean plastic bag large enough to cover the entire pot should do the trick.

Seedling trays also work very well for propagating stem cuttings, and some even come with convenient plastic humidity domes.

Growing Medium

Begonias grow best when planted in a light, well-draining potting medium. Any standard potting mix that contains coconut coir, perlite, or vermiculite will work just fine.

An optional step when planting begonia propagations is to add rooting hormone to the stem cutting. This can give cuttings a better chance at developing strong, healthy roots and speed up their growth.

You can buy one of these top-rated premade rooting hormone powders online, but it is also super easy to make your own. Check out this guide to homemade rooting hormone to learn about using simple ingredients like cinnamon and honey as DIY rooting supplements.

Method #1: Propagating Begonias from Leaf Cuttings

Cuttings of begonia maculata with water in a glass jar. Rooting cuttings. Extension of roots. Reproduction of begonias. Care and reproduction of plants at home.

Propagating begonias from leaf cuttings requires just three simple steps.

This propagation method can be tried with all types of begonia plants but works best with fibrous-rooted wax begonias.

Step 1: Cut Healthy Leaves to Propagate

First, find a mature, disease-free begonia plant from which to take your cuttings.

Then, using clean, sharp scissors, pruning shears, or a knife, snip off healthy leaves from the mother plant.

Take multiple cuttings. Some may simply not root as well as others. And you’ll also want to plant multiple rooted cuttings together to create more lush begonia plots.

Step 2: Root in Water

Place the petiole (leaf stem) of your cutting into a clear glass jar with about an inch of water. Make sure there is some room between the stem and the bottom of the container. The cutting should be suspended in the water, not touching the glass.

It’s important to change out the water regularly to keep the growing roots clean. Rinsing and refilling the glass with fresh water once per week is a good rule of thumb.

Check on your begonia cuttings very frequently, though. If you see mold on the roots or notice they appear mushy, change the water immediately. This plant may be receiving too much direct sunlight and should also be moved to a shadier location.

Step 3: Plant When Roots Develop

Wait for your begonia leaf cuttings to develop full, dense roots before planting them. This will take about two to three months.

When it is time to plant your new begonias, you can start by dipping their roots in a rooting supplement of your choice. This isn’t completely necessary; begonias are easy to propagate with or without rooting hormone.

Finally, plant your begonias in a well-draining potting mix and water thoroughly. After this initial watering, allow the growing medium to dry out completely before adding any more water.

Method #2: Propagating Begonias from Stem Cuttings

Young begonia seedlings growing in plant pots in a greenhouse.

Stem cuttings can be used to propagate all types of begonias and is the preferred method for tuberous and rhizomatous or Rex begonias in particular. This method will have you planting stem cuttings directly into a potting medium.

Follow these three steps to start propagating begonias from stem cuttings.

Step 1: Select and Prepare Stem Cuttings

Start by choosing mature softwood stems from your healthy begonia mother plant. Avoid stems that are very old and woody.

Use sharp pruning shears to cut these stems below leaf nodes, creating trimmings about three to four inches long. Then, remove all leaves from the bottom half of each stem cutting. Finally, dip the cut end of the stem into your rooting hormone of choice if you are opting to use one.

Step 2: Plant into Potting Medium

Fill a seedling tray or small pot with your potting mix or other growing medium. Then simply insert the bottom third of your begonia stem cutting into the soil. Pack the soil tightly around the stem cutting to hold it in place.

Using a spray bottle of water, add moisture to your planted stem cutting by misting the growing medium. You do not want the soil to be completely wet, only damp.

The last step is to cover everything with plastic to create a mini greenhouse around your new plant.

Zip a sealable plastic bag completely closed around the potted cutting to trap humidity inside. You can also use a plastic bread bag pulled closed with a twist tie. For seedling trays with humidity domes, just place the dome lid on the tray and press the edges to ensure it’s tightly closed.

Check on your growing begonia plants regularly, at least once per week, and mist the soil as needed to keep it moist.

Step 3: Plant When Roots Develop

Monitor root development by lightly tugging upward on your planted cuttings. If you meet resistance, the roots are developing as intended and taking hold in the growing medium.

Similar to propagating begonia leaf cuttings in water, propagating stem cuttings will also take about two to three months for the roots to develop enough that you can transplant it into a larger pot or plant it outside.

Frequently Asked Questions about Propagating Begonias

The process of pruning begonia maculata cuttings. Spring plant pruning. Plant care. Urban jungle.

Still, have some questions about how to propagate begonias. Keep reading for answers.

What’s the best way to propagate begonias?

Which propagation method is best for you depends upon the type of begonias you are propagating.

Some begonias have thin, stringy roots. These are known as fibrous-rooted or wax begonias. The best way to propagate fibrous-rooted begonias is using leaf cuttings, following the steps outlined in Method #1 above.

Rhizomatous begonias grow from stems called rhizomes that spread horizontally underground and creep along the soil surface. Tuberous begonias grow from flat tubers. The best way to propagate both rhizomatous and tuberous begonias is from stem cuttings, using Method #2.

Can you grow tuberous begonias from cuttings?

Yes, you can propagate tuberous begonia from stem cuttings.

It’s also technically possible to multiply tuberous begonias by root division, but this is a risky and unreliable process. Cutting a begonia tuber in half leaves both resulting pieces with a large wound. If the wounds do not heal properly, both plants will be highly susceptible to rot and disease.

Follow the steps in Method #2 for propagating tuberous begonias using stem cuttings.

What time of year do you propagate begonias?

You can take begonia cuttings and begin propagating new plants at any time of year.

Begonias benefit from regular pruning to shape their growth. Take the opportunity when pruning a mature begonia to collect multiple stem cuttings. You can safely remove up to one-third of a healthy, mature begonia plant at a time.

Do begonias like sun or shade?

Begonias need indirect sunlight and thrive in partial shade. Most begonia varieties require only about four to six hours of sunlight daily.

Direct sunlight can harm begonias by burning their leaves.

Potted begonias kept indoors will perform best near a bright window with a sheer curtain. Outdoor begonias are great for filling partially shady spots that may be too dark for other flowering plants.

Now You Know How to Propagate Begonias

Now that you have your new begonia plants started, make sure to keep them somewhere highly visible. This will not only remind you to check on them but also will allow you to enjoy watching their incremental growth!

Next, check out some of our other plant propagation posts for more step-by-step guides with easy-to-follow instructions. Try propagating hydrangeas for another colorful addition to your garden.