Angel Wing Begonia (Never Dormant) How To Care & Grow Angel Wings Plant

Kim Williamson, Author 8 Billion TreesWritten by Kim Williamson

Gardening | April 1, 2024

Circular frame surrounding an Angel Wing Begonia showing a close up of the angel wing leaves variegated green and white.

Since its initial cultivation in the early 20th century, the Angel Wing Begonia has only increased in popularity.

This bold, attractive, tropical plant has adorned both the interior and exterior of homes across the country for many decades, and the appeal does not seem to be fading.

But, if you’re like many people, if you look at a houseplant the wrong way, it will perish, so you may wonder how to grow this gorgeous plant so that it thrives.

This complete guide contains everything you need to know about how to grow the Angel Wings Begonia plant, how to identify it, and how to cultivate a gorgeous flowering home addition that is never dormant.

What Are Begonias?

Begonias are tropical flowers in the Begonia genus of the Begoniaceae family. Begonias are grown from bulbs and can be cultivated outside as annual garden fixtures.

Many people prefer to grow begonias in containers so they can overwinter indoors. Many species of begonia are shrub-like, growing up to 5 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter while others are much smaller herbaceous plants.29

The more than 2,000 species in the genus Begonia have been cross-bred endlessly, leading to an abundance of cultivars with varying features. Begonias are often informally grouped according to those features: roots, growth habit, stems, etc., and some of the more well-known Begonia types include:

  • Fibrous Begonias: Network of thin, fragile roots
    • Cane Begonias: Long, bamboo-like stems2,14
    • Semperflorens Begonias: AKA “Wax Begonia.” Year-round blooming30
  • Rhizomatous Begonias: Surface-creeping root system and colorful leaves, compact growth28
    • Rex Begonias
  • Shrub-like Begonias: Many-stemmed shrubs, varying in size31
  • Tuberous Begonias: Tuber-producing, tolerant of cool weather21

The Angel Wing Begonia is a Cane Begonia hybrid cross between B. coccinea and B. aconitifolia.12,13

Angel Wing Begonia

(Begonia coccinea ‘Angel Wing’)

Angel Wing Begonia in oval frame on green background.
  • Order: Cucurbitales
  • Family: Begoniaceae
  • Genus: Begonia
  • Type: Annual/Perennial
  • Leaf: Large, asymmetrical, wing-shaped leaves, often with silver spots, specks, veins or fringes. Alternating hanging foliage with prominent veins underneath.
  • Blossoms: Showy, pendulous flower clusters in pink to burgundy red. Between 2 and 6 petal-like sepals, but lacking true petals.
  • Seed: Fleshy or leathery winged capsule filled with tiny, dust-like seeds.
  • Growth Rate: Rapid
  • Size: Up to 5 feet tall
  • Native Habitat: Cultivated. Most Begonia species originated in tropical America.
  • USDA Growing Zone:: Zones 10 - 11

Image Credit: Veronika Andrews (Veronika_Andrews)40

Angel Wing Begonia Facts

Angel Wing Begonias are a somewhat ambiguous group of plants within the Begonia species. While the term ‘Angel Wing Begonias’ was originally used to denote a specific cultivar in the Cane Begonia division, the name is now commonly used to refer to a much wider range of Begonias.

In fact, ‘Angel Wing Begonia’ is sometimes used to refer to all cane-type Begonias, as well as some shrub-like Begonias and beyond. Understandably, there is some confusion over what exactly constitutes an Angel Wing Begonia.

Here are some Angel Wing Begonia facts that are helpful:

  • Angel Wing Begonias are a hybrid cross between the Brazilian native Begonia aconitifolia and a Swiss-owned Begonia coccinea (a.k.a. Scarlet Begonia) cultivar known as B. ‘Lucerna’ or B. ‘Corallina de Lucerna.’11
  • Some people consider B. ‘Lucerna’ to is the original Angel Wings plant, though the name was first used for its hybrid offspring cultivated half a century later.
  • The original Angel Wing Begonias are the result of breeder Eva Kenworthy Gray’s hybridization work in California in the mid-1920s.
  • Angel Wing Begonias are so named because their pointed, hanging, heart-shaped leaves resemble the shapes of wings.
  • These plants are sometimes confused with Dragon Wing Begonias, but Dragon Wings are typically smaller with solid, green leaves and curving cane stems.1

Angel Wing Begonia Varieties

The Angel Wing Begonia has given rise to many Angel Wing Begonia varieties, particularly as the name continually expands to encompass a wider range of begonias.5, 10, 15 Some of the most popular varieties of Angel Wing Begonias are:16,20

  • ‘Anna Christine’: Large plant with red flowers.
  • ‘Apricot Shades’: Abundant, large, orange blooms all through the summer.
  • ‘Charles Jaros’: Small and compact with pink flowers.
  • ‘Cracklin Rosie’: Dark, frilled, foliage with white spots.
  • ‘Esther Albertine’: Wavy, silver-spotted leaves and hanging pink flower clusters.
  • ‘Looking Glass’: Silvery leaves with broadly toothed margins.
  • ‘Medora’: Silver-veined leaves and light pink flowers.
  • ‘Million Kisses Elegance’: Subtle but elegant flowers on delicate stems.
  • ‘Silver Wings’: Silver-spotted leaves.
  • ‘Splish Splash’: Leaves with white splashes.
  • ‘Super Cascade’: Large and showy double blooms.

How To Identify Angel Wing Begonia

The Angel Wing Begonia plant, not to be confused with the Pink Angel plant (Fittonia albivenis), is a gorgeous, hybrid house or garden plant which has been a popular fixture in American households for nearly a century!

Angel Wing Begonia identification chart showing Angel Wing Begonia leaf, Angel Wing Begonia flowers, Angel Wing Begonia seed pod, and Angel Wing Begonia stem images in circle frames on a green background.

From the eponymous leaves to the cane-like stems, Angel Wing Begonia has many distinguishing characteristics!

There are several steps for how to identify Angel Wing Begonia, and starting from the ground up, they are as follows:

Angel Wing Begonia Roots

Begonia plants grow from one of three types of root systems: fibrous, rhizomatous, or tuberous. Rhizomatous roots are fleshy stem-like roots that spread along the soil surface.

Tuberous roots are thick and fleshy, usually flattened and brown.17 Angel Wing Begonias and other Cane Begonias belong to the group with fibrous root systems.

Fibrous root systems can be distinguished by their thin, fragile root tendrils. These tendrils may clump into a knotted mass of roots or appear stringy.

Angel Wing Begonia Stems

The stems of Angel Wing Begonias are among their most defining traits. Though the stems are non-woody, they are cane-like.

In other words, the stems grow tall and tough. They tend to resemble bamboo and may exhibit the nodes along the stems characteristic of bamboo plants.3

Angel Wing Begonia Leaves

Angel Wing Begonia leaves are unique enough to inspire the name of this group of plants. The large, hanging leaves may grow to 5 or 6 inches long in vigorous plants.

Closeup of Angel Wing Begonia plant showing variegated leaves on black background.

(Image: ignartonosbg36)

The alternating leaves have an asymmetrical form which creates a shape similar to a wing. Most angel wing plants have deep green leaves, but many varieties may have white or silver dots on the upper side of the leaf and red or purple hues on the underside.1

Angel Wing Begonia Flower

Begonia plants are monoecious, meaning that each plant has male and female parts. However, the types of flowers on the Begonia are either male or female rather than individual flowers with both male and female parts.

Although the flowers of Angel Wings are not among the largest of Begonia species, they are beautiful and elegant.

Angel Wing Begonia flowers grow on terminal cymes and often hang in graceful cascades. The most common colors are pink and red, but some varieties may produce white and peach blooms.10,23

The male flowers typically have between 2 and 4 petal-like structures while the females can have up to 6. Female flowers also have a visible winged ovary underneath.32

Angel Wing Begonia Seeds

Angel Wing Begonia seeds are produced and held in the winged ovaries of the female Begonia flowers. The seed capsules become more prominent as they ripen and the flowers die away.32

The seeds themselves are barely visible grains that sometimes have air-filled sacs to aid in dispersal.25

Planting Tips for Angel Wing Begonia

An Angel Wing Begonia is a great choice for gardeners just starting to grow Begonias. It is more versatile and resilient than many of its relatives.

There are a few basic planting tips for Angel Wing Begonia which can truly help it to thrive and flourish.

  1. Plant the Angel Wing Begonia in a container that can be moved indoors during the winter, as temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit are detrimental to these plants.3
  2. When potting the Begonia, use a well-draining soil mix that is rich in nutrients.
  3. If planting outdoors, choose an area where the plant will be shielded from the afternoon sun.
  4. If planting indoors, place the pot in a brightly lit room but not in direct sunlight.9

How Far Apart To Plant Angel Wing Begonia

How far apart to plant Angel Wing Begonias is really a matter of personal preference. Angel Wing Begonias will typically grow to fill the space of the pot or plot where they are planted unless they are pruned consistently.

In open areas, a vigorous plant can reach heights of 5 feet. A gardener desiring large Begonia plants should allow adequate room for this growth, but Angel Wing Begonias are truly an ideal container plant that can be planted singly or doubly.29

When To Plant Angel Wing Begonia for the Best Yield

Knowing when to plant Angel Wing Begonia for the best yield is a concern for many gardeners.

Early spring is usually a great time to start Begonias indoors.

Closeup of Angel Wing Begonia in a garden showing their green and variegated leaves.

(Image: The Fun Chronicles38)

In cooler climates, outdoor plants may need to wait until later in the spring.

How To Propagate Begonias

There are a lot of strategies and ideas for how to propagate Begonias, and there is nothing wrong with experimenting with different methods. Here are some of the pros and cons of different propagation techniques.

Growing Angel Wing Begonia From a Seed

Growing Angel Wing Begonia from a seed can be tricky because the seeds are minute, barely larger than a speck of dust. Plus, it’s not always certain what Begonia variety a specific seed or seed group will produce.

Particularly in the case of hybrids, seeds are not guaranteed to produce plants comparable to the parent plant.

Still, growing from seed can be fun! When doing so, allow the seeds to settle atop the soil rather than burying them. Seed trays should be kept moist, warm, and well-lit.27

Growing an Angel Wing Begonia From a Seedling

Growing an Angel Wing Begonia from a seedling is a good choice for gardeners who want to know exactly what they are getting and want to reduce some of the work and wait time associated with growing from seed. Seedlings should be kept indoors in warm, moist, well-lit environments.

Growing an Angel Wing Begonia From a Cutting

Growing an Angel Wing Begonia from a cutting is by far the most popular method of propagation. With Begonias, new plants can be propagated from a single leaf, or even leaf part, or from stems.

Stem cuttings of 3 to 5 inches or whole leaves including petioles should be taken in the spring.

Begonia cuttings can be propagated in water or soil. Roots typically develop over the course of a few weeks to one month.27

Best Growing Conditions for Angel Wing Begonia

The best-growing conditions for Angel Wing Begonias depend largely on how the gardener wants to grow their Begonia: annual or perennial. Angel Wing Begonias make great annual additions to outdoor gardens.

Closeup of Angel Wing Begonia showing leaves and pink and white flowers with yellow center.

(Image: Dick Culbert39)

They should be grown in partial shade. Morning sun and afternoon shade are a good combination for these plants.

Angel Wing Begonias make excellent container plants and are frequently grown indoors as perennials. The beautiful thing about growing these plants indoors is that with proper lighting and watering, Angel Wing Begonias can bloom year-round and never go dormant!

The optimal places for growing these flowers indoors are in areas of the home that are temperature-controlled, relatively humid, and brightly but indirectly lit.

Enriched potting mixes make an excellent substrate for Angel Wing Begonias which thrive in nutrient-rich soil.6

Angel Wing Begonia Growing Zone (Growing Zones for Angel Wing Begonia: Where To Grow)

For gardeners who don’t want to worry about growing zones for Angel Wing Begonia, where to grow these plants is as simple as choosing a suitable place inside the home.

However, there are plenty of gardeners who love to see the striking outdoor foliage and delicate flowers in their outdoor garden beds.

The optimal Angel Wing Begonia growing zones are USDA zones 10 and 11 (See USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map), where winter temperatures do not drop below freezing.

Angel Wing Begonias can be grown as perennials in these zones. Note that they are great as annuals in cooler zones!!6

How Long It Takes To Grow Angel Wing Begonia

How long it takes to grow Angel Wing Begonia depends upon the plant’s growing conditions. It also depends upon whether the Begonia is growing from seed, seedling, or cutting as plants started from seed will take much longer to reach a considerable size.

In general, Angel Wing Begonias are moderately fast growers which accumulate noticeable new growth every few weeks.34

Companion Plants for Growing Angel Wing Begonia

Begonias make excellent neighbors for many beloved garden plants. The best companion plants for growing Angel Wing Begonias are those which prefer the partial shade conditions that allow Begonias to thrive.

Low-lying ground covers such as Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia), large tropical plants such as Black Taro (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’), and ferns are all great choices.4

Angel Wing Begonia Care

Taking care of Angel Wing Begonias is not particularly complicated, but these plants do require some love and nurturing to flourish.

Once the plant is potted and placed properly, the most important aspects of Angel Wing Begonia care are regular watering and monitoring. Read more below.

Watering Needs for Angel Wing Begonia Plants

The watering needs for Angel Wing Begonia plants are a bit different from some other types of begonia. Angel wings thrive in moist but well-drained soil.

They should not be allowed to dry out, but neither should they be overwatered. A good rule of thumb is to water the Angel Wing Begonia when the surface soil (up to one inch deep) is dry to the touch.1

Provide the plant with ample water and allow it to drain for up to 15 minutes. An indoor plant may require watering every few days or as little as once a week depending on the amount of light and heat to which it is exposed.

How To Keep Begonias Blooming

Begonias thrive with adequate water, light, and nutrients, so the first tip for how to keep Begonias blooming is to ensure the plant has all of these things.1 An airy, organic potting mix will help prevent the Begonia from becoming oversaturated.

Place the plant where it receives lots of indirect light (add artificial light in winter), and mist the leaves between waterings. Regular fertilization will increase the vigor and blooming of the Begonia.19

Angel Wing Begonia Disease Prevention (How To Stop Angel Wing Begonia Disease)

Common fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew, as well as leaf and root rot, can become issues for Angel Wing Begonias, but these are usually preventable problems.

Angel Wing Begonia disease prevention starts with ensuring the Begonia plant is properly watered and properly lit.

For Angel Wing Begonias, watering once a week may be sufficient. When the top layer of the soil dries out, the Begonia should be watered thoroughly and drained well.

Ensuring the plant receives plenty of sunlight while avoiding direct rays is also a key component to Begonia plant health.8

Many people have asked how to stop Angel Wing Begonia disease once it has begun. Unfortunately, in the case of root rot, it is usually too late.

Other plant diseases, such as powdery mildew and leaf rot may be controlled by removing diseased parts of the plant and remedying the cause of the disease (too much water, not enough light, etc.)35

Common Pests of the Angel Wing Begonia

Some of the most common pests of the Angel Wing Begonia include mealybugs and whiteflies. As neither of these pests is easily controlled with pesticides, it is imperative to keep the Begonia plant healthy and vigorous and avoid infestation.18

Spider mites, aphids, and scales can also be problematic, particularly when not addressed promptly.22

Natural Pest Control for Angel Wing Begonia

The best natural pest control for Angel Wing Begonia is prevention, first and foremost. Begonias are more likely to succumb to pest infestation when they are unhealthy.

This is often the result of over or under-watering. When a Begonia becomes compromised, pests are more attracted to it.

Insecticidal soap spray can be effective against these pests but can also harm beneficial insects.18

Many of the pests mentioned above can be eliminated by rinsing the leaves and flowers of the Begonia with running water or cleaning them with soapy water (in the case of scales).

Several treatments may be required to completely resolve the issue.22

It is also important to prevent the spread of infestation to other plants. Isolating an infested house plant can circumvent further issues.34

What Type of Begonia Do I Have?

With the incredible number of Begonia species and varieties, figuring out “What type of Begonia do I have?” without using a plant identification app can be a challenge. However, there is a step-by-step, systematic method for solving this problem at home.

Closeup of Begonia species showing dark green leaves varying shades of pink flowers with yellow center.

(Image: Hans37)

Identify your Begonia by examining, in this order, the roots, growth habit stems, leaves, and flowers of the plant.24

Angel Wing Begonias make beautiful container plants that can easily be moved in and outdoors with the seasons, allowing the flowers to bloom year-round and never go dormant.

Although these plants have preferred growing conditions, their needs are easy to meet and manage.

When growing Angel Wing Begonia plants, remember that moisture and light are key to cultivating the perfect house plant.

Frequently Asked Questions About Angel Wing Begonia

Do Begonias Like Sun?

Gardeners growing Begonias for the first time may find themselves asking “Do Begonias like sun?” The answer depends on the species and variety of Begonia, as certain types (e.g. Wax Begonias) prefer more shade while other types can tolerate sunnier conditions so ask a local nursery or research the needs of a specific Begonia before planting it.33

How Much Sunlight Does Angel Wing Begonia Need Each Day?

The question “How much sunlight does Angel Wing Begonia need each day?” is a natural area of concern given the variability of begonia species. Angel Wing Begonias are not one of the plants that don’t need sun, but they do much better with bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day.7

Are Begonias Poisonous to Cats?

Growing begonias as houseplants may not be the best option for people with indoor pets, ever wondered: “Are begonias poisonous to cats?” Well, begonias are indeed toxic for cats and other small mammals and can cause considerable discomfort if ingested.26


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