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Rex begonia is great choice for Christmas
The poinsettia may be the quintessential holiday plant because of its bright and colorful bracts, but there are some non-traditional plants that can be just as festive and spread as much cheer.
One of the most unusual I’ve seen is a miniature cherry tomato in full fruit, displayed for holiday sales.
I have admired Rex begonia for many years, and I think this group of plants has the potential to be more than a beautiful indoor plant. It could take its place as a cornerstone of holiday decorations.
Rex Begonias are primarily indoor plants known for their colorful and textured foliage. They get their name from the Latin word for king, and the foliage certainly looks like royalty. The coarse- textured leaves are colorful, with streaks and splashes of silver, cream and burgundy.
I find the symmetry of the leaves’ spiraling shape adds to the beauty of Rex begonia. This spiral design is repeated in nature, from the shells of the nautilus to great galaxies in outer space, and it is a very pleasing shape.
For those considering decorating for the holidays with this plant, the variety Hilo Holiday would be one of my first choices. The foliage of this plant has a bright, reddish pink middle that is framed in silvery tones. The leaf border is green with splatters of pink and silver.
A less colorful selection is Iron Cross, but this plant is big on texture. The medium-green leaves of this plant have a pebbled and quilted surface that is almost rough to the touch. The leaves have chocolate brown highlights on the center veins.
Rex begonias will thrive indoors under the right conditions. Never place it in a west- or south-facing window, as direct sunlight can damage the plant. An ideal location is one that is prominent but also receives high, indirect light.
Rex begonias need higher humidity than most indoor plants require. An easy solution is to place the planting container on a tray filled with decorative pebbles or gravel and covered in water. As the water evaporates from the surface of the pebbles, it will create a microclimate with the needed humidity.
Though these plants like humidity, they do not like being overwatered. Make sure the potting media is dry to the touch before watering.
Rex begonias are easy to propagate using leaf cuttings. To start a new plant, place a leaf, base side down, into a container with moist potting media. Place a clear plastic bag over the container and set it where it receives indirect light. New plantlets will form at the leaf base.
With its spiraling colors in an endless number of combinations, Rex begonia can liven up any holiday occasion. Be sure to place this plant on the top of your wish list for next year’s Christmas decorating.