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Begonia maculata, commonly known as the Polka Dot Begonia, is a species of begonia easily recognized by its beautiful dotted foliage. The leaves are wing-shaped, deep green in color with reddish-purple undersides, and are covered in silvery-white polka dots that give the plant its name. The length and width of these fantastic leaves can vary between 2 - 8 inches (5 - 20 cm).
These plants are native to Brazil, and as such are adapted to live in warm, humid environments with dappled, indirect sunlight.
They can also produce flowers if they get enough light and nutrients. These are white in color, and stay quite small before dying off relatively quickly.
Polka Dot Begonias can be a little picky at times, but they're well worth the effort as the right care will reward you with a stunning-looking plant that is sure to brighten up your home.
One of the most important things to maintain is high humidity around your Polka Dot Begonia - ideally over 45%. Without enough humidity, the leaves can start to brown and crisp up. Most homes naturally have dry air, so you'll likely need to supplement your plant with regularly misting and / or use of a pebble tray. If you have several moisture-loving tropical plants, it may be worthwhile investing in a humidifier.
Be sure to keep your plant away from A.C. units and radiators, as this can cause it to dry up more quickly, and Polka Dot Begonias don't like drafts! Also, be aware that if you let the leaves get too wet, the plant may develop powdery mildew - a type of mold that can quickly spread to other plants. So, while it's important to maintain a certain level of moisture around your plant, don't let the leaves stay dripping wet for prolonged periods of time.
It can additionally be a little tricky to maintain the right balance in terms of watering your Polka Dot Begonia. They like not too much and not too little. You should try to keep the soil somewhat damp at all times, but avoid getting it overly wet, as these plants can be highly susceptible to root rot, which is often fatal for houseplants. Always check the soil before watering again - the top layer should be allowed to dry out between waterings.
Unfortunately, Polka Dot Begonias are toxic to pets, so be sure to keep them away from cats and dogs in your home.
It is rumored that Christian Louboutin was inspired to create the characteristic red underside of his designer shoes in order to mimic the Polka Dot Begonia's leaves.