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Discover the Rugged Charm of Begonia ‘Ferox’: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing the Troll Begonia


Are you ready to check out an awesome plant? I’m excited to share one of the most unique plants I’ve come across. It’s even stranger than the famous pickle plant succulent I talked about before. Meet the Begonia ‘Ferox’—a fresh face in the realm of houseplants.

This beauty is on its way to becoming the next big thing in our plant collections and social media feeds. Remember, you heard it here first—we’re always on the lookout for the next big trend!

Introducing the Begonia ‘Ferox’: A New Star in the Begonia World

Meet the Begonia ‘Ferox’—the latest sensation among begonia enthusiasts. Known for its rugged and wild appearance, the name ‘Ferox’ fittingly means ‘fierce’ in Latin, perfectly capturing the essence of this standout plant.

Part of the Begoniaceae family, this species is often referred to as the “Fierce Begonia” due to its bold and distinctive look. Its large, asymmetrical leaves boast a unique, textured surface that catches the eye.

Begonia 'Ferox'
Credit: ruralsprout

Originating from the limestone areas of China, the Begonia ‘Ferox’ showcases impressively puckered leaves that make it a must-have for any serious collector. Although it shares similarities with Begonia melanobullata, it is notable for its sharply pointed leaf tips.

It grows a bit more slowly, gradually developing its signature leaf blisters. This plant thrives in a terrarium with high humidity and good air circulation.

The leaves feature raised bumps, resembling chocolate chips, known as bullae. Despite their tough look, these bumps are surprisingly smooth to the touch. The underside of the leaves is just as intriguing, with inverted bullae that appear as small craters lined with red veins.

Its wild growth pattern and rugged, leather-like leaf texture have earned it the nickname “the troll plant” among commercial growers—perhaps a clever marketing tactic.

Previously considered rare, the Begonia ‘Ferox’ has only recently become more accessible since its discovery in China’s wilderness in 2011. As it transitions from the wild into our homes, this begonia is still in the early stages of becoming a familiar houseplant.

A Personal Encounter with the Unique Troll Begonia

The Begonia ‘Ferox’, often referred to as the Troll Begonia due to its unique, bumpy leaves, is becoming increasingly accessible. If you can’t find it at your local nursery, you might want to check online retailers like Logee’s, Steve’s Leaves, or Mountain Crest Gardens, all of which are known for their quality plants.

I remember first encountering this begonia at a local shop. Unfortunately, I hesitated because I had promised myself not to buy more houseplants at the time. A week later, when I returned, ready to make the purchase, it was gone.

So, I ended up ordering one online. It arrived with minimal damage—just a few bent leaves and some loose soil. After soaking it in water for a few hours, it looked as vibrant as ever.

A Personal Encounter with the Unique Troll Begonia
Credit: ruralsprout

The Troll Begonia is a rhizomatous type, which is great news for anyone interested in propagation. These begonias are relatively easy to propagate from cuttings.

They also handle irregular watering quite well, thanks to the moisture-storing capacity of their rhizomes. While it’s not ideal to neglect watering, this begonia will forgive a missed watering or two without dying, though it might look a bit wilted.

What really sets this plant apart are its distinctively textured leaves. The black bumps on the leaves end in a pointy trichome, adding to its rugged appeal. The leaves themselves are asymmetrical and spread out, much like the wild hairdo of a mythical troll.

Troll Begonia
Credit: Horticulture Week

As they mature, the bullae (bumps) on the leaves become more pronounced. New leaves tend to be smoother, while those sprouting directly from the rhizome start off with a striking burgundy-red color, gradually developing visible bumps as they grow.

I particularly admire the red petiole of the Troll Begonia, which adds a touch of elegance to its otherwise wild appearance. The plant can reach a height of 12 to 18 inches, making it a substantial addition to any indoor garden.

How to Care for Your Begonia ‘Ferox’ Troll

How do you ensure your Begonia ‘Ferox’ Troll thrives? Understanding the natural habitat of this pl ant is key to its care. Originating from the undergrowth of rainforests in Guangxi, southern China, the Troll Begonia provides important insights into its needs:

  • Humidity is crucial: Mimicking the moisture-rich environment of its rainforest origins will keep your Begonia ‘Ferox’ healthy and vibrant.
  • Shade from direct sunlight: Just like in its natural setting, this begonia prefers environments that shield it from harsh, direct sunlight.

To keep your Troll Begonia flourishing, aim to replicate these conditions as closely as possible in your home. This approach will satisfy its essential requirements and help your plant thrive.

Begonias Need Humidity

Begonias love moisture, and the Begonia ‘Ferox’ is no exception, thriving best in the high humidity typical of its native rainforest environment. To keep your begonia vibrant, consider these tips for maintaining adequate humidity:

  • Humidity Needs: Aim for around 60 percent humidity to mimic the moist conditions of a rainforest. This is higher than typical indoor humidity levels, which range from 30 to 50 percent.
  • Winter Challenges: Maintaining this level can be tough, especially during winter when indoor heating systems can dry out the air.

Here’s how you can ensure your begonia gets the humidity it craves:

  • Smart Placement: Position your begonia in the bathroom or kitchen where it can benefit from the natural humidity from showers and cooking.
  • Mini Greenhouse: Consider using an indoor greenhouse for controlled humidity.
  • Plant Grouping: Cluster your begonia with other plants to create a microenvironment with higher humidity.
  • Humidity Tray: Place your begonia on a tray filled with pebbles and water to increase moisture around the plant.
  • Avoid Dry Heat: Keep the plant away from dry heat sources like radiators and air vents, which can sap moisture and cause the leaves to crisp and brown.

If you notice the leaves of your Begonia ‘Ferox’ turning crispy with brown edges, this is a sign of low humidity. While you can trim away the damaged parts, addressing the humidity level will benefit the long-term health and beauty of your begonia.

Soil and Fertilizer

In its natural habitat, the Begonia ‘Ferox’ thrives on nutrient-rich limestone slopes, drawing nourishment from decomposing forest mulch. To encourage robust growth at home, aim to mimic these conditions.

Choose a potting mix that is loose, rich in organic matter, and slightly alkaline, which is ideal for begonias. Look for mixes that offer good porosity along with moisture retention. Such soil helps the plant stay healthy and well-hydrated without becoming waterlogged.

For optimal drainage, incorporate materials like coco coir, perlite, or vermiculite into your potting mix. Simply adding a handful of perlite to standard potting soil can significantly improve its drainage capabilities.

Be mindful of the soil’s acidity. Try to avoid adding components like shredded bark that might make the soil too acidic. Instead, maintain the soil’s pH level to suit the Begonia ‘Ferox’s alkaline preference.

Begonia 'Ferox'
Credit: Reddit

During the growing season, which includes spring and summer, feed your Begonia ‘Ferox’ with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer to promote healthy growth. However, during the winter, when the plant’s growth naturally slows, reduce or pause fertilizing.

Repot the plant either annually or when it has doubled in size, whichever comes first. Refreshing the soil annually can replenish essential nutrients, potentially reducing the need for additional fertilization. Remember, sunlight is the primary energy source for plants, not fertilizer, so ensure your Begonia ‘Ferox’ gets plenty of light.

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Sunlight Needs

When considering the Begonia ‘Ferox’s natural preferences, it’s important to note that these plants avoid direct sunlight. Positioning them in a window that receives intense direct light, such as an east-facing or south-facing window, could be detrimental, effectively scorching the plants.

Instead, moving them a couple of feet away from such windows can strike the perfect balance, providing them with just the right amount of light.

The Begonia ‘Ferox’ struggles in low light and may even start shedding leaves if it doesn’t receive enough. To foster its growth, keep it within three feet of a window, allowing it to benefit from natural light without being directly exposed.

Depending on your local weather conditions, you might need to adjust its placement to optimize light exposure without risking damage.

It’s best to provide your Begonia ‘Ferox’ with bright, indirect light. It thrives under filtered sunlight or partial shade, avoiding any direct sun that could harm its foliage.

Keep in mind, this type of begonia grows quickly and robustly due to its rhizomatous nature, and it does require sufficient light to maintain healthy growth. If you’re looking for a low-light plant, the Begonia ‘Ferox’ might not be the right fit, as it does need a good amount of light to thrive effectively.

Water Needs

To ensure optimal health for your Begonia ‘Ferox’, maintaining the right moisture balance in the soil is crucial. It’s essential to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.

An effective technique, particularly for rhizomatous begonias, is bottom watering. Simply place the pot, which should have drainage holes, in a water-filled tray and allow the plant to absorb moisture as needed.

The Begonia ‘Ferox’ thrives when the soil is allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Make it a practice to water the plant regularly, but let the top inch of the soil dry out before the next watering. This approach helps prevent overwatering, which can cause root rot, ensuring you maintain just the right moisture level.

Bottom watering is advantageous for a couple of reasons: it prevents water from accumulating around the rhizomes, which could lead to rot, and it reduces the risk of water spots on the leaves. If your local water is hard, watering from above could leave unsightly marks on the leaves.

While water marks might be easy to clean off smooth leaves, the textured, spiky leaves of the Troll Begonia make cleaning a challenging task. This method keeps the foliage dry and spot-free, simplifying maintenance.

optimal health for your Begonia 'Ferox'
Credit: ruralsprout

Tips for Promoting Health and Vitality in Begonia ‘Ferox’

The Begonia ‘Ferox’ prefers warm environments, thriving best between 65°F and 80°F (18°C to 27°C). It’s crucial to shield this plant from cold drafts and low temperatures, as it is particularly sensitive to the cold.

This begonia variety does not enter a typical dormant phase. If you notice a slowdown in its growth, ensure it’s receiving sufficient sunlight and water to maintain its health.

To keep your Troll Begonia looking pristine, a soft brush works wonders for cleaning, particularly the bumpy surfaces of its leaves. A slanted watercolor brush or a makeup brush works excellently for this task. Regular dusting, just a few minutes each month, will keep your plant looking fresh and vibrant.

It’s important to routinely remove any dead or yellowing leaves, as well as spent flowers, to encourage healthier growth and improve the plant’s appearance. Propagation of Begonia ‘Ferox’ can be effectively done through stem cuttings.

Simply take a healthy cutting with a few leaves and plant it in a well-draining rooting medium, maintaining warmth and moisture until it develops roots.

If your houseplant appears unhealthy, begin by inspecting its leaves for signs of distress, such as yellowing, browning, or drooping, which might suggest overwatering or a lack of nutrients. Check the soil moisture, as both overly dry or soggy conditions can be detrimental.

Make sure the plant is receiving the correct amount of light—too much or too little can cause stress. Also, consider environmental factors such as temperature and humidity, and adjust your care routine as necessary to rejuvenate your plant.

Currently, there is no confirmed information regarding the toxicity of Begonia ‘Ferox’. If ingestion occurs, whether by a pet or a person, consulting a medical professional is advisable as a precautionary measure.

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