White Bellybutton Begonia Planting

Variety: Begonia White Belly Button
Family: Begoniaceae
Cultivar:  N/A
Zones: 10 to 11
AHS Heat Zone: Not defined for this plant
Soil Type: Some sand to clay loam
Soil pH: 6 to 7
Sunlight: Shade to dappled
Watering: Normal to moist
Fertilizer: Water-soluble, quick-release fertilizer
Availability: Sold as live, potted plants, but seed may be commercially available in your area.

When to plant: Seeds can be started indoors four to six weeks before the last frost. Sow seeds outdoors after the last frost. Live plants can be planted after the last frost.

Planting Method
SEEDS: Seeds can be planted ½ inch deep. For outdoor planting, thin plants to 12 inches of spacing once they're established.

LIVE PLANTS: For outdoor planting, dig a planting hole twice the size of the root ball and as deep as the soil in the container. Place the White Belly Button Begonia in the planting hole, backfill, mulch and water well.

To transplant a container grown plant to a larger container, line the bottom of the new container with stones to ensure proper drainage. Fill the container with enough soil so that the level of the soil in the old container is at the same level in the new container. Center the begonia in the new container and fill in with soil. Water well.

Watering
Water enough to keep the soil moist. If you are growing the plant outdoors, water with at least an inch of water per week. If you're growing the begonia in a container, water when the top inch of soil dries out.

Fertilizing
Fertilize with a phosphorus fertilizer until the plant becomes established. After establishment, use a good, all-around flowering shrub and tree fertilizer, unless the soil test shows a low nutrient. In that case, use a nutrient-specific fertilizer.

For container-grown plants, fertilize with a water-soluble, quick-release fertilizer every 10 to 14 days or as otherwise directed on the package. Always follow packaging instructions, especially if you are using organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, since different brands may have different ingredients and different strengths.

Production
White Belly Button Begonia is a low-maintenance perennial that produces small, evergreen leaves and erect flowers in shades of pink and white.

Diseases

  • Leaf Spots: Bacteria or fungi cause brown or black spots on leaves. The leaf spots have no particular shape, but the edges look yellow. People, rain and insects spread leaf spots. When the plant is dry, remove the infected leaves. Be sure to keep the plant pruned properly, and clean up any dropped leaves under the plant. Water plants from below, taking care to keep the foliage dry. Leaf spots can also be controlled with fungicide.
  • Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungus that usually affects plants that have low air circulation and inadequate light. It is a bigger problem in the early spring and fall months, when the temperatures swing from high during the day to low at night, especially in zones with a lot of humidity. Powdery mildew forms a white or gray coating on the top of the leaves, making them turn yellow, curl up and drop off. It also causes stunted fruit that drops early. To control powdery mildew, decrease watering, use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and keep water off the foliage. Apply fungicides as directed.
  • Rhizactonia Root and Stem Rot: Rhizoctonia is found in a lot of soils. It enters the plant through the roots and causes it to wilt as it travels up the stems. The lower leaves will wilt first. If you think your plant has this problem, decrease watering. If all of the leaves are wilted, discard the plant and clean the pot with a bleach-and-water mixture. Fungicides will also control Rhizactonia.
  • Sooty Mold: Sooty mold is a black, sticky fungus that feeds on honeydew put out by aphids, mealybugs and scale insects. It attracts ants. You can get rid of it by keeping the pests out of your plants and by washing away with a sprayer. Though it is a fungus, fungicides may not control it. Be sure to keep the plant properly pruned to help with sooty mold.

Pests

  • Mealybugs: Mealybugs are covered with a white wax and feed on plants by inserting stylets into the plant. They secrete honeydew, which creates sooty mold and attracts ants. Eggs are laid inside a cotton-type pouch and hatch in 7 to 10 days. The adults live about 30 days, and can lay several hundred eggs. Control mealybugs with an insecticidal soap or pesticides.
  • Scale Insects: The 1/8-inch-long scale insect attaches itself to the leaves and stems of plants. While the males have wings, the females do not, and spend their lives attached to the plant, sucking out juices with their piercing mouth parts. The scale insect excretes honeydew, which causes sooty mold that attracts ants. Cut any infected leaves off the plants. If the stems are also infected, you may have to dispose of the entire plant. You may be able to control them with insecticidal soaps or pesticides. You can also introduce parasitic wasps to your garden, as they are the scale insect's natural enemies. Lady beetles are also natural enemies.
  • Slugs and Snails: Slugs and snails will eat any part of the plant that is not overly woody. They do not like scented foliage, so they tend to stay away from areas with highly scented plants. They can be controlled with chemicals, but these chemicals are dangerous to children and pets. To try to control them without chemicals, set beer traps in the late spring. Remove any type of ground cover, including mulch. Keep the garden area picked up; do not leave pots, rocks, wood or tarps in the area.
  • Spider Mites: Spider mites are tiny, eight-legged insects that feed on foliage, causing stippling, a distinctive spotted look on the leaves. They also create a thin web on the plants, and will use the web to move from one plant to another. Adults live up to 21 days and lay hundreds of eggs, which hatch in two to four days. You will probably need a magnifying glass to see the adults, eggs and nymphs. The adult will have two distinctive black spots on it. Spider mites tend to become immune to pesticides, so if you decide to use them, rotate the type of pesticide you use. Natural predators include predator mites, pirate bugs and lady beetles. Isolate plants infected with spider mites to stop their spread.
  • Thrips: Out of the 6,000-plus species of thrips, there are five that like to visit garden plants. These narrow-bodied insects are about 1/8-inch long and have a life span of about 45 days. They are commonly found eating foliage, including the stems of plants. They do not like cooler temperatures and will invade a warm greenhouse. Keep plants well-weeded and use sticky strips to trap thrips. Some pesticides may work, though some only kill the larvae, not adult insects. Natural enemies include lacewings, ladybeetles and pirate bugs.
  • Whiteflies: Whiteflies are less than 1/8 of an inch long, with white wings and yellow bodies. Their eggs hatch in 8 to 11 days. They have piercing mouthparts and suck the juices from plants, which causes stunted growth and yellow leaves. They can be controlled with pesticides, but in order for them to be effective, the underside of the leaves must be treated. Parasitic wasps and lady beetles can be used for outdoor control.

Cleanup
Prune White Belly Button Begonia during the spring and throughout the growing season for dead and decaying plant matter. Pinch the stem tips to encourage a bushier plant.

Saving Seeds
The easiest way to propagate is from stem cuttings. Cut a stem tip, leaving two or three leaves on it. Begonias will usually root easily, but if you are having trouble getting it to root, dip the stem cutting in rooting powder before planting. 

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