A pair of Brazilian beauties, it’s not surprising people find it difficult to tell the Begonia maculata wightii from the angel wing begonia. Both feature dramatically spotted leaves, speckled and swooping in a bright ripple of scarlet and silvered green. But a keen eye can tell them apart, and I’m going to give you a few tips to help you along.
The Begonia macula wightii is a large plant that can reach 5 feet tall, with large, asymmetrical leaves covered in distinct “polka dots” of silvery white. The angel wing begonia is smaller overall at no more than 2.5 feet, with more restrained foliage that is dusted with small freckles of silver or white.
Let’s take a look at the various differences and similarities between the Begonia maculata wightii and the angel wing begonia.
|Begonia Maculata Wightii||Angel Wing|
|USDA Hardiness Zone||Zones 10-11||Zones 10-11|
|Scientific Name||Begonia maculata wightii||Begonia x corallina|
|Mature Height||5 ft. (152cm)||1-2.5 ft. (76 cm)|
|Mature Width||1 ft. (30 cm)||1-2 ft. (30-60 cm)|
|Growth Rate||Moderately fast||Moderately fast, new growth in six weeks.|
|Habit||Spreading canes||Spreading canes|
|Light Requirement||Bright, indirect light||Bright, indirect light|
|Soil Type||Moist, well-draining soil||Moist, well-draining soil with abundant organic matter|
|Soil pH||Neutral to acidic||Neutral to acidic|
|Watering Frequency||When the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry||When the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry|
|Pests||Mealybugs, whiteflies||Mealybugs, whiteflies|
|Diseases||Powdery mildew, leaf spot disease, root rot||Powdery mildew, leaf spot disease, root rot|
Difference Between Begonia Maculata Wightii and Angel Wing Begonia
Let’s start by examining some of the key differences between these two stunning begonias. While they look much the same, there are a few ways a keen eye can spot the difference.
As their most defining features, the leaves of the begonia are a great way to tell them apart.
The leaves of the Begonia maculata are show-stopping. They are asymmetrical, with a sweeping graceful wing that is the deep scarlet underside and an upper surface covered with regularly placed silvery spots.
On larger plants, the leaves are often impressively large. Remarkable even without flowers, these begonias are often raised entirely for their gorgeous foliage.
While the leaves of the angel wing are similar, they are usually smaller, with more symmetry to the leaf. On occasion, they may become dagger-like and sharply angled.
While spotting is typical, they are more like a dusting of freckles than the big dramatic spots of the maculata. Sometimes, the plant may produce leaves with no spots at all!
Begonia maculata blooms from the spring to fall, producing delicate clusters of white flowers with bright yellow hearts. On the other hand, angel wing produces flowers in a wide range of colors, from bright reds through to orange, pink, and white.
While they generally flower late winter through autumn, they sometimes flower all year with the right light and careful fertilization.
Both plants are from the family of cane begonias, and this shows in their growth. That said, the Begonia maculata grows thicker, stronger stems, and while staking isn’t an unwise idea to control its flamboyant growth, it’s possible to leave your maculata to grow as it pleases.
On the other hand, angle wing has more delicate, thin canes, and benefits from extra support. I’ve had great success with light stakes of bamboo, and even light tomato stakes will get the job done. Angel Wing will otherwise sprawl out, and you risk your treasure snapping.
Probably the most obvious difference between these two plants is their height. A full-grown Begonia maculata can top out at an impressive five feet tall (150cm), though obviously, a houseplant can reign in with judicious pruning. I’d recommend you hang onto any cuttings, as begonias readily propagate from cuttings when placed in water.
The angel wing on the other hand is a much more manageable plant, with a mature height of around 2.5 feet (75cm). They require less effort to keep their growth under control.
Similarities Between Begonia Maculata Wightii and Angel Wing
May key similarities between the Begonia maculata and angel wing come down to the fact they are both cane begonias.
They are related plants, and this shows how fundamental their similarities are. The key needs of light, water, and soil remain the same for our two begonias, as we’ll explore below.
Both these beautiful begonias enjoy bright, indirect light, and will thrive best if they are given the spotlight in your collection. They never truly enter dormancy, and with ample light have even been known to flower into the winters.
Nonetheless, your begonias will do just fine in less light, though you do run the risk of your plant becoming “leggy” – with long stalks and few leaves, growing towards whatever light it can find.
Consistent moisture is the best approach for these begonias. Avoid waterlogged or overly soggy soil, but they enjoy soil that remains moist.
Allow the top inch of soil to dry between watering, but maintain a consistent level of moisture beneath that. Depending on your conditions, this may be as frequently as every 4-5 days in warm and dry summers, or as rarely as twice a month during the cooler months.
I’ve often found that a plant’s soil needs reflect their water requirements and the other way around. This is true of these two begonias. Both benefit from “heavy” but well-draining soil with abundant organic matter.
Their complex root networks benefit from having something substantial but well-draining. Some experts even recommend growing these two in a mix that is more organic matter than soil.
During the growing seasons, both plants benefit from frequent applications of liquid fertilizer. Spring and summer growth is hungry work, and the begonia’s characteristic bright blossoms take a lot of nutrition.
A mix with increased phosphorous will encourage flowering, and one with more nitrogen will encourage more leaves. No matter what you desire, regular fertilization will help your begonias reach their best.
Pest and Diseases
Regrettably, the same basic similarities of physiology make these two begonias susceptible to many of the same pests and diseases.
Watch for powdery mildew, leaf spot, and root rot. As for pests, mealybugs and whiteflies quite like to bother your begonias, so keep an eye out for those, too.
All begonias are toxic, especially the root systems. They can cause vomiting, excessive drooling, skin irritation, and diarrhea, as well as causing the throat to swell enough to make swallowing difficult. I’d suggest you keep inquisitive pets and children away from all begonias.