Begona Amphioxus, or Begona Amphioxus Butterfly, is a member of the Begoniaceae family, in the genus Begonia. There are over 1800 different species of flowering perennial plants within the Begonia genus. Begonias are often striking and unusual looking plants with interesting leaves that vary widely in shape and color.
Originating from Borneo in Malaysia, Begona Amphioxus is a rare and striking plant with narrow, elongated leaves. It is covered in red spots and outlined with a red leaf margin along the jagged edges.
The name ‘Amphioxus’ is derived from the Greek words ‘amphi’ and ‘oxus’, meaning ‘pointed on both ends’ and refers to the leaves, which are sharply pointed on both ends and wing-shaped (hence the name Butterfly).
It is a strikingly beautiful and unique plant. In the right conditions, it will flower up to three times a year, with delicate purple or white flowers. As a monoecious plant, the flowers may be both male or female on the same plant. The flowers have no petals but are framed by large sepals that closely resemble petals. Begona Amphioxus flowers are not showy and the main attraction of this plant is the stunning, evergreen (and red) foliage.
Begona Amphioxus Care
Caring for your Begona Amphioxus can be a fine balance to keep but once they are established and you have found a routine that works for you, it is not particularly complicated. The main things to keep a close eye on are temperature, humidity, and feeding. Aside from those, it needs little in terms of TLC and does best with as little interference as possible!
Creating the Perfect Conditions for your Begona Amphioxus
Begona Amphioxus are small, upright growing shrubs that reach 15 to 30cm (6 to 10 inches) in height. The width of the plant varies depending on the growing conditions but they rarely grow wider than 30cm. The leaves are large in proportion to the stems – 3 to 5cm long and 1 to 2cm wide.
The plant is not robust and needs to be kept in a position where it won’t be bumped by pets or people and won’t have any strong air movement (this helps with maintaining humidity too).
Begona Amphioxus loves hot, humid conditions! If you do not live in a hot, tropical climate, you will need to compensate for this with added humidity and heat. For this reason, they do especially well in a terrarium or under a cloche or bell jar.
So, with the above in mind, let’s look at the ideal location and conditions for your Begona Amphioxus:
Your Begona Amphioxus does not need much space to grow. They seldom get better than 30cm x 30cm so as long as they have enough space to fill out to that size, they will be just fine.
If you are keeping them with other plants, in a terrarium or greenhouse (or your own house, if you live in a hot, tropical climate), keep in mind that they will need a little space around them for air circulation and that they won’t do well if other plants are bumping them in the breeze.
Your Begona Amphioxus needs to be in a position with bright, indirect, natural light or near a grow light (not too close, it will dry it out too much and singe the leaves). Avoid direct sunlight as it will also singe the leaves.
Begonia Amphioxus needs a hot and humid environment. The ideal temperature is around 30C. The temperature needs to be consistent, as they do not tolerate rapid temperature fluctuations well.
These plants need consistently high humidity (around 80%) to thrive, which is why they do so well in an enclosed environment like a terrarium or cloche/bell jar. However, bear in mind that they also don’t tolerate being too wet, so make sure they don’t get waterlogged around the roots and don’t have water on their leaves in an environment where it will take some time to evaporate.
The best container for a Begonia Amphioxus is one that drains well and is just large enough to support the height of the plant. Standard nursery pots in the appropriate size will work perfectly. Avoid repotting until it is necessary (look for roots growing out drainage holes at the bottom of the nursery pot) as they do not tolerate change well.
Begonia Amphioxus needs a light, well-draining potting medium that is relatively rich in organic matter. Store-bought potting mix amended with a little compost and some stone chips for added drainage will work well. In terms of pH level, mildly acidic to neutral (6.1 to 7.5) works best.
How to Care for Begonia Amphioxus
Watering, Feeding, Pruning and Disease Control
In the right conditions, the maintenance care for your Begonia Amphioxus is fairly simple:
Like most Begonias, Amphioxus needs frequent watering. Allow the growing medium to dry out a little between waterings to avoid waterlogged soils and root rot but make sure it does not dry out completely.
In an enclosed terrarium or cloche, it will need to be watered less frequently – check the enclosure and the pot and top it up when it is getting dry.
Water from the base of the plant and not onto the leaves, unless you are using a spray bottle. Try to avoid letting water sit for too long on the leaves, as they are prone to rot and will develop mushy areas and drop off.
Begonia Amphioxus are perennial, evergreen plants and they do not need to be pruned to maintain growth but they will do well with a little ‘grooming’ to maintain their shape. Use clean, sterilized clippers and clip away any leggy stems just below a node. The cuttings can be propagated in the same pot by sticking them back in, around the base of the mother plant.
Begonia Amphioxus need regular feeding, as frequently as once a week in some cases. Use a liquid fertilizer, which contains a more or less equal ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (look for equal NPK numbers on the bottle) diluted to a quarter of the recommended strength.
Preventing Pests and Diseases
Like most plants, keeping them clean, fed and correctly watered is usually enough to keep them safe from pests and diseases. Keep the following tips in mind to keep your Begonia Amphioxus healthy:
Water from the bottom and avoid letting the plant sit in water for long periods, both around the roots and on the leaves.
Keep the temperature and humidity as consistent as possible. Sudden changes in temperature and humidity will stress the plant and make it more susceptible to disease.
Keep the container / terrarium / cloche clean. Wherever possible, wash it with soap and water to kill any viruses, bacteria, or fungus.
Clean and sterilize your hands and tools before you handle the plant.
Keep it away from other plants, especially new additions to your collection, until you are confident that they are not carrying any diseases or pests.
Treating Pests and Diseases:
The following are common problems faced by Begonia Amphioxus plants:
Leaf and Root Rot will occur in overly wet conditions. Roots will go soft and mushy and then die off, cutting off the plant’s access to water and nutrients from the soil. Leaves will develop soft, mushy patches and fall off. Cut away any affected leaves, stems or roots immediately. If necessary, re-pot the plant into a clean container and ensure that the potting medium drains freely and quickly.
Fungal Infections (particularly Anthracnose) and Powdery Mildew are common problems due to the heat and humidity required for these plants. Curling leaves and white patches indicate Powdery Mildew, while leaves yellowing and curling, with brown patches, indicate Anthracnose. Treatment consists of removing the affected leaves as soon as you see them (dispose of them away from other plants) and applying a store-bought fungicide.
Pests (Thrips, Aphids, and Spider Mites) are commonly found on foliage plants like the Begiona Amphioxus. Treatment consists of manually cleaning them off the leaves with a damp cloth and warm, soapy water. Natural remedies, such as Neem Oil, are another safe and effective method. Spray the leaves and stems with the Neem Oil mixture and then wipe them down gently with a washcloth to remove the insects. More stubborn infestations may require several treatments to clear up. Take care to isolate the affected plant to prevent them spreading to other plants in the vicinity.
Begonia Amphioxus is a stunning and highly unusual looking plant. It requires consistently high temperatures and humidity, regular feeding and protection from physical damage. It does very well in enclosed terrariums or cloches and can make a striking feature plant for display. The leaves are narrow and pointed on both ends, with jagged edges, red leaf margin and bright red spots. It is a rare and coveted plant that requires a little bit of extra care but once you have the conditions right and you have found a maintenance routine that works for you – it needs very little from you!
Where to Buy a Begonia Amphioxus
The Begonia Amphioxus is for sale on Etsy. Click below to check the price on Etsy.