How to Care for Begonia Bowerae (Eyelash Begonia)

The Begonia bowerae (Eyelash Begonia) is a beautiful groundcover or houseplant, and its vibrant, green leaves will create a lush landscape for your yard or inside your home. The Eyelash Begonia is a popular houseplant, but people in mild climates also enjoy growing this plant outside.

The plant is a native species of Mexico and was first seen in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Begonia Bowerae Care
Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the years, several cultivars have emerged from the creative efforts of botanists. These different plants have names like Bethlehem Star, Nigra Magra, and Rubra.

Begonia Bowerae Quick Care Guide

Scientific NameBegonia bowerae
Common Name(s)Eyelash Begonia
FamilyBegoniaceae
Size10 to 12 inches tall and 8 to 10 inches wide
LightPartial shade or indirect sunlight
SoilOrganically rich and well-draining soil
WaterEvery two to four days
TemperatureNo lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit
Humidity70 to 90 percent humidity
FertilizerLiquid fertilizer once a month from spring to fall
PropagationVia rhizomes pressed into potting soil or cuttings
Pests & DiseasesMites, scale, mealybugs, nematodes, whiteflies, powdery mildew, snails
ToxicityToxic to pets when ingested in large quantities

The Begonia bowerae (Eyelash Begonia) doesn’t like direct sunlight and prefers partial shade or indirect sunlight. Plant Eyelash Begonias in rich, moist soil, but make sure the soil is a well-draining variety.

The Begonia prefers high humidity during the growing season, but the soil should dry out between watering.

The Begonia may benefit from fertilizer starting one year after they are purchased or repotted. Feeding the plant about once a month from the spring through fall with fertilizer is helpful.

Make sure the fertilizer has phosphorus and a high amount of nitrogen. Propagate by taking rhizomes or via small cuttings.

All About the Begonia Bowerae

The Eyelash Begonia is a perennial commonly grown as a groundcover, in pots, or in hanging baskets. The plant is capable of growing outside as long as temperatures don’t drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s also a beautiful indoor plant when potted.

The plant will grow up to a foot tall and should be planted about 10 inches apart when placed in the ground.

The most difficult part of growing a Begonia bowerae is getting the watering schedule right. Overwatering can result in an increase in fungal diseases, powdery mildew, and snails.

The plant enjoys indirect sunlight, whether it’s planted outside as a groundcover or in a pot as a houseplant.

Pet owners should note that the plant is toxic to cats and dogs when ingested, so it’s best to keep the plant out of reach of animals.

Begonia Bowerae Care

Light

Begonia bowerae will thrive in partial shade or indirect sunlight, but they shouldn’t get too much direct sunlight if they’re planted in a partial shade environment.

It’s best to place them in an area that receives a lot of bright, indirect sunlight rather than full shade for part of the day and full sun for the other part.

When grown as a houseplant, Begonia bowerae grows well when placed just outside the rays of the sun near a bright window.

Bear in mind that a sunny window in the summer might not get as much sun in the winter, so it might help the plant to move it throughout the year so that it gets the right amount of sunlight.

Water

As long as the soil in which the Begonias are placed is well-draining, the plant doesn’t need more than an average amount of water.

Simply touch the soil to see if it’s dry before watering the plant again. The number of days you might need to wait to water will vary based on your climate.

One of the vulnerabilities of the plant is a fungal disease, which may occur when the soil remains water-logged or wet for too long.

The plant may also start to rot if it’s given too much water, so it’s important to water the plant regularly to avoid drowning it in a ton of water.

Soil

The Begonia bowerae enjoys well-drained soil, so you may find it helpful to aerate the soil once a year, to keep the soil from hanging onto too much water.

The soil should remain moist after you water the plant, and hardpacked soil may make it difficult for the water to drain sufficiently.

If you place your Begonias in a pot, choose a shallow pot that’s also porous. They do well in an unglazed terracotta pot, and you don’t often need to worry about putting the Begonia in new soil or a new pot because they enjoy having crowded roots.

Fertilizer

If you buy your Begonia bowerae from a garden center or store, you shouldn’t need to worry about fertilizer for the first year. After that point, you can fertilize them once a month in the spring, summer, and fall. 

Try to find a fertilizer with a 10-10-5 ratio. This is a type of fertilizer with a high nitrogen and phosphorus ratio, which the Eyelash Begonia enjoys.

Fertilizer normally includes some ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but potassium isn’t particularly important to Begonia bowerae.

Propagation

Creating new Eyelash Begonias is most easily accomplished by taking a cutting and placing it in a glass of water, where it will eventually form some roots. The roots should reach about a half-inch, which is when you can put the cuttings in the soil.

It’s also possible to propagate Begonia bowerae by using rhizomes. Place the rhizomes on a shallow tray or pot filled with soil, and they’ll eventually grow.

Technically, you can even use a single leaf from a Begonia bowerae and grow a new plant.

Troubleshooting

Too Much Water

One of the most common problems Begonia bowerae owners have is a rotting plant that starts to die because it’s been watered too much.

An overwatered Begonia bowerae will start to lose its flowers and leaves until it’s barren and can no longer sustain life.

Too Much Sun

Not only can Begonia bowerae suffer from overwatering, but they can also develop brown, crispy leaves that start to fall off the plant, one by one.

These leaves are usually caused by too much sun. Begonias like bright light, but they suffer if they remain under direct sunlight for too many hours each day.

Not Enough Humidity

If you grow your Begonia bowerae as a houseplant, you should also look out for brown and crispy leaves that occur because of dry weather. Begonia bowerae enjoys humid environments, just not waterlogged soil.

In a dry home, particularly one with the heater running in the winter, the Begonia may get too dry, and its leaves may turn brown.

Diseases and Pests

Several types of pests may attack your Begonia bowerae, and it’s important to examine the plant regularly, especially if it looks like it’s suffering a little.

Failure to grow, drooping leaves, and lost leaves may indicate some type of pest is attacking the plant or eating it.

Bugs commonly seen on Begonia bowerae include mealybugs, black vine weevils, and mites. A plant that is overwatered is very vulnerable to picking up a disease or attracting pests.

However, even a healthy plant can develop a case of mealybugs. Inspecting the plant on a weekly basis is helpful for catching infestations early.