Sorry, Monstera—This Plant Will Be the One on Everyone’s Sill This Summer
Even Martha Stewart’s gardener endorses it.
Published Apr 8, 2021 1:00 AM
There are few home decor trends having a bigger moment these days than the houseplant. From the pilea peperomioides to the pink princess philodendron, leafy green things are everywhere, bringing joy to our mostly indoor life. But there’s one version of greenery that we’re seeing more of than anything else: the begonia.
“Begonias come in so many sizes and shapes, and they’re so exotic-looking. Some are spotted, some look like snails, some are furry or have flowers—and they’re all different colors,” says Kate Berry, Domino’s executive creative director and a proud plant parent (10 of her 16 houseplants are begonias). She regularly uses them for photo shoots (sometimes lending her own special specimens for the occasion) and likens them to sculptures when placed in an interior space.
Ryan McCallister, Martha Stewart’s head gardener, agrees that the flowering plant’s impressive range of shapes and colors has contributed to its recent popularity. “The two most popular are the rhizomatous begonias and the angel wing/dragon wing cane types,” says McCallister, who has cultivated hundreds of begonias for Stewart during his 10-year tenure at her Bedford, New York, farm. The former is known for its multicolored, highly textured leaves (Berry has an affinity for the “Marmaduke” rhizomatous variety, which has vibrant lime green leaves dotted with deep burgundy speckles), and the latter for its dramatic leaf shape.
The Internet has caught on, too. Instagram account @thebegoniabrigade is a great place to get acquainted with some of the most sought-after species—plus it’s total plant eye candy. And the informative captions often include entertainingly vivid descriptions, as well as each variety’s general stats (name, backstory, likes, and dislikes).
But before you fall hard for this in-demand houseplant, a slight disclaimer: They’re not what Berry would deem office plants (e.g., easygoing plants that can handle being watered inconsistently). “You have to read them a little bit more. They have to grow with you, and you have to understand them,” she explains.
McCallister gives them a 3 to 4 on the difficulty scale (with 1 being easy to care for and 10 requiring a horticulture degree). “You can’t completely ignore them, but they don’t require an extreme amount of care or knowledge,” he says. That said, we have faith in you. Here’s everything you need to bring the plant of the moment to your sill.
Ryan McCallister’s Begonia Cheat Sheet
Light:Bright, but not direct, hot sun.
Soil: Well-draining, such as a cactus mix.
Water: A once-a-week drink is plenty, but err on the dry side. Avoid getting water on its leaves, which can cause mildew for the textured and velvety varieties.
Ideal planter: Shallow and wide clay pots with a drainage hole.
Handy tool: A thin pair of scissors for precision pruning of old leaves and flower stalks (regular-size shears are usually too chunky).
Where to buy begonias online: Logee’s.