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Why Are My Begonias Dying? (Signs and Solutions)

Begonias are one of the most popular indoor plants due to their hardiness, and beautiful bright colored blooms that’ll surely improve the appeal of their surroundings. Regrettably, this tropical beauty can become fatally ill when the conditions deteriorate. 

Overwatering, fungal diseases like root rot, lack of nutrition, and pest infestation are the potential reasons why begonias are dying. Begonias are typically afflicted with these problems, which manifest as drooping leaves, extensive discoloration, and drooping. The basic remedies for these common problems with Begonias include:

  • Indirect sunlight
  • Proper watering schedule
  • Effective drainage 
  • Avoid drafty spaces
  • Ensure sure humid levels are high
  • Apply fertilizers when needed
  • Make use of fungicides

In this article, we’re going to discuss the conditions that are bad for your begonias, how they lead to their destruction, and how to save them.

Begonias Dying
Begonia Dying

How to Know If your Begonia Is Dying 

Here are the basic symptoms to look out for:

Rotten or Dried Up Roots

This symptom involves an improper supply of water to the root. On the flip side, if the soil is waterlogged, the roots will swell up and then rot due to attacks from possible dormant pathogens.

At this point, the roots won’t be able to supply water to your Begonias properly. Thus causing your Begonia to discolor, and slowly die. This scenario indicates you’ve over-watered your Begonias. 

If the roots are dry and wilting, your Begonias aren’t getting enough water. As a result, your Begonias’ leaves, stems, and root system will begin to decay.

Yellowing of the leaves

Yellowing of the leaves primarily indicates a lack of ample nutrients such as Nitrogen, manganese, or zinc going to your Begonias. Usually due to the poor state of the Begonias, which could be rotten from Overwatering or dried up from Underwatering.

Another reason for yellowing your Begonias’ leaves is the lack of bright sunlight. This is because the lowlights limit the photosynthetic process of the leaves. Thus reducing the production of chlorophyll and in turn causing the leaves to turn yellow.

Browning of the Leaves 

Browning around the edges of the leaves (necrosis) of your Begonias can occur due to Overwatering as well. But the most usual cause is too much direct sunlight which leads to sunburn, along with a hotter surrounding temperature.

Drooping Leaves

When the leaves start to droop it usually means your Begonia is experiencing a low supply of water (Underwatering). And it could also indicate its surrounding humidity is quite low (dry).

Presence of Powdery Mildew or Feathery Growth

If you see a Powdery white substance on the leaves or a feather growth at the base of the stem, this indicates your Begonia suffers from a fungal infection. 

Brown Dots or Holes in Leaves

Holes on the leaves are a clear indication that your Begonia suffers from pest infestation. The most common culprits are Slugs, Caterpillars, and spider mites.

Stunted Growth and Curled Leaves

When you realize your Begonia just isn’t growing in size as it used to and the leaves happen to curl up, this could mean your soil lacks proper nutrients. And it should be fertilized immediately.

Symptoms and Treatments for Dying Begonias

Begonias Diseases

Like most plant life, begonias are vulnerable to diseases in the right conditions. Which could be your fault or just an unfortunate Natural occurrence.

For instance, Pythium Rot & Rhizoctonia crown rot are problems that arise as a result of Overwatering. And another likely situation is if a pathogen such as bacteria finds its way into your begonia leaves. 

Whichever the situation may be, here are the common diseases that attack begonias

  • Bacterial Leaf Spot and Blight
  • Pythium Rot
  • Rhizoctonia Crown Rot

Bacterial Leaf Spot and Blight 

Bacterial Leaf Spot disease affects the photosynthetic process of your Begonias. They usually arise when there are wounds on the leaf or when the humidity level of the surrounding is extremely high. You can identify it with the brown or dark spots that appear all over the leaf. 

 Bacterial Leaf Spot on Begonia
Bacterial Leaf Spot on Begonia

If this disease is left untreated, then there’s a high chance your begonia leaves will start to turn yellow due to low transpirational activity and then brown up till it falls off.

The same would happen to most parts of the plant, and its overall growth will be stunted. Also, during the wilting phase, your plant could invite pest infestation.

Pythium Rot

This is a root and Stem disease that is quite common with begonia. As it is caused by a fungal pathogen that rests dormant in the soil till the conditions are perfect.

And that being the rotting of your root due to excessive watering. Once the spores attack the roots and other healthy areas of your plant you’ll begin to notice symptoms such as:

Rhizoctonia Crown Rot 

This is one of the trickiest diseases for your begonias to encounter and it’s quite common too. Its favorable conditions are cool or wet weather, waterlogged soil, and a rotting root. These conditions are all that this fungus-like disease needs to become active.

When it infects, you’ll notice these symptoms:

  • Discoloration in the roots 
  • Your begonia leaves will start to yellow, redden or turn purple. 
  • Stem at the base will experience dry rot (usually in the early stages) 
  • Stunted growth 
Begonia Stem Rot

Save Begonias from Diseases

Here are instructions on how to Save your Begonias from dying due to disease (accordingly):

How to Cure Bacterial Leaf Spot and Blight

The best way to go about conquering this bacterial infection is to curtail its spread and survival. 

Stopping the Spread: Cut out the Infected

During the early stages of the disease, it’s best to trim out the leaves with brown or dark spots on the leaves. 

Process:

  • Make use of trimming equipment – Get yourself a pair of gardening scissors which must be sterilized to prevent further infection on your plant’s opened wounds. 
  • Cut out the infected leaves – Make use of the blades to cut out the leaves that show signs of bacterial blight. And make sure to cut from the stem so that new leaves can grow.

Prevent Survival

Now that the spotted leaves are dealt with, you don’t have to worry about their spread. But you should worry about its survival. This is where treatment comes in. As there are special chemicals you can release onto your Begonias to stop the disease. 

Chemical treatments to consider:

Copper spray or Oxidate

Copper spray along with other topical sprays help out in curtailing the survival of bacterial leaf spot through modifying the molecular structure of the enzymes and proteins that your begonia possesses. In such a way your bacteria will no longer thrive. 

Note: using copper spray alone for a long period may start to lose its effect as bacteria is an adaptive disease that could build resistance over time.

Activator spray 

Plant activators (Check the price on amazon here) work in the same way vaccines do. As it involves infecting your plant with a controlled amount of bacteria disease to help improve your Begonias resistance.

The reaction that takes place leads to the formation of a compound that disrupts the activities of the pathogen. Thus allowing your Begonias to achieve SAR (Systemic Acquired Resistance). 

Note: Consider using jasmonic acid, which is an essential oil extracted from the jasmine plant.

Biological Chemical Treatment

To help prevent disease spread, streptomycin and/or oxytetracycline can be used to kill or suppress plant pathogenic bacteria. The bacterial disease can not be cured but you can prevent it from happening. 

How to Cure Pythium Rot

The truth is there is no cure for your begonia if it shows signs of Pythium root and Stem Rot. The best action to take is to carefully uproot it and dispose of it safely in such a way it has no contact with other plants in your garden or surrounding. Preventing Pythium Rot is the only way to cure it. As you can practice these steps as follows:

Prevent Overwatering Begonia

Pythium root and stem rot originate from fungal spores that lay dormant in soil waiting to be activated by the right conditions. Overwatering leading to damage of the roots is a perfect scenario.

So, in case you’ve not treated the soil for possible pathogen infestation, I suggest you prevent Overwatering your Begonias. Let the rate match the season. 

Treat the Soil

This should be done before you plant or transplant your Begonias. As you should sterilize your potting soil. You can do this by baking the pot of soil, steaming it, or throwing it in your microwave. 

Note: The soil should be heated for 30minutes at 180 to 200°F(82-93°C).

How To Cure Rhizoctonia Crown Rot

Just like Pythium root rot, Rhizoctonia Crown Rot is very hard to cure. The best way to handle the problem is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. But if you’re able to detect it at its early stages, here are steps to follow to remove it carefully:

Step One: Identify damaged parts of the plant 

The first step to take is to assess the plant. Find the parts that are affected by this fungi soilborne disease. If you notice the darkening of the roots, rotting of the stem at the base, or yellowing of the leaves, you could probably still save it. 

Step Two: Prune your Begonias 

Get your gardening blades and then cut the affected leaves and roots. Use it to scrape off infected bark Close to the stem at the base. 

Step Three: Dig up Surrounding Soil 

Make use of your gardening trowel to dig up the soil surrounding the base of your plant. So that you can expose the affected crown to sunlight for drying. 

Step Four: Apply Fungicides 

Apply fungicides to your water can and then pour the solution onto the base of your plant (infected crown).

Begonias Dying from Overwatering

Overwatering leads to yellowing of the leaves and total rotting of the roots. If you don’t treat this problem, your begonia’s growth would be stunted, the stems/bark will become mushy. Overall, your Begonias would wilt and die.

Overwatered Begonia Leaf Become Limp and Mushy
Overwatered Begonia Leaf Become Limp and Mushy

How to Save Dying overwatered Begonias

Step one: stop watering your Begonias 

The obvious action is to stop watering your plant, as it would further damage it.

Step two: Dry up the Soil 

Given you’ve identified clear symptoms of Overwatering, the best action to take is to let it dry out. And you should start the process by uprooting the plant, and then draining the pot for intense drying.

Step Three: Trim off the Rotten Roots 

If you’re able to notice symptoms of Overwatering in your Begonias then you should be quick to monitor the roots. After uprooting the plant, be on the lookout for rotting roots (dark and swelled up with a foul odor). Prune these roots with the appropriate gardening blade and dispose of the cutouts.

Step Four: Treat the Potting Soil

If you wish to reuse your potting soil, treat it and annul the probable activation of fungal diseases. You can do this by heating it in your oven or microwave for 30 minutes with the temperature at 200°F (93°C).

Step Five: Repot the Plant 

Now that you’re done with treating your potting soil, plant your pruned Begonias back into the pot. 

Note: add perlite to your new potting mix, as it would help a lot with draining excess water. Along with freeing up the pot’s drainage holes.

Begonias Dying from Underwatering

Due to the lack of ample water in the soil and an Improper Watering schedule, your begonia wilt. And it starts at the roots, as it would shrivel up and probably break. Also, the leaves would start to curl, turn yellow, and even fall off.

Begonias Dying from Underwatering
Begonias Dying from Underwatering

Solution

Watering your begonia appropriately (according to a good schedule) should be the best approach. For instance, during the dry season, make sure to water your plant at least twice a week during the summer.

Or until you notice the topsoil (2-3 inches deep) being fully dry. Whilst in the cold seasons, avoid abandoning the plant as the moisture can still dry up. 

Lack of Nutrients 

Without any of the basic nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, the growth and health of your begonia will be compromised. The same goes for other important nutrients such as boron, molybdenum, calcium. And many more. 

For instance, lack of nutrients can lead to a lot of problems, such as stunted growth, curled leaves, drooping leaves, discoloration, and a Limping plant. 

Solution

At this point what you need to do is find the right fertilizers to add to the soil. A good example is a fertilizer with equal amounts of nutrients such as a 10-10-10 model with a combination of potassium, Nitrogen, and phosphorus.

You should add the fertilizer to large amounts of water and then spray your plant. Practice this routine every 3 weeks.

Incorrect Soil pH 

Begonias thrive better in acidic soils with a pH close to the borderline. And that is 6.5. If the level drops further, then your begonias may fail at growing as they could experience discoloration, stunted growth, curled leaves, and poor stem and bark structure.

Solution

Begonias love a slightly acidic soil that falls between 5.5 and 6.2 on the pH scale. So when you’ve realized a drop in soil pH level add limestone. Or you could set up a new soil for your pot. One that consists of a well-aerated mix of peat moss, and compost. 

Begonia Dying Due to Pest Infestation 

Your Begonias can be attacked by various types of pests. And they range from pests that suck and absorb to pests that chew.

For instance, spider mites are microscopic insects that feed on the bottom of your leaves. You can detect them by taping your affected leaf over a piece of white paper. You’d notice tiny dark spots on the paper. 

What they do is Suck nutrients from the leaves’ soft tissue which could lead to discoloration (yellowing). Just like aphids. 

Caterpillars, slugs, snails, and whiteflies on the other hand are easily detectable due to their large size compared to other microscopic pests such as spider mites.

They feed on begonias by chewing on the leaves and thus creating holes in the process. Except for whiteflies as they merely cause discoloration. 

Begonia Dying Due to Pest Infestation 
Begonia Dying Due to Pest Infestation 

Solution

The best way to handle microscopic Pests such as spider mite aphids is by hosing the leaves down. Usually, till the white mold or Powdery substance is removed.

Pest-like white flies require fly trap strips to be caught and discarded or insecticides. Slug and Snails on the other hand can be removed early by hand. 

Too Much Sun Exposure

Begonia is naturally shade-loving plants, so placing them near a window-side with direct sun rays would only lead to intense sun damage.

And you can notice this as the leaves would curl up or get disfigured. Because your Begonia is trying to reduce the rate of transpiration in which the sun is triggering. 

If the plant eventually adapts, new leaves would not be flat and big again but rather small and thick. 

Sunburned Begonia Leaf

How to Revive SunBurnt Begonias

Step One: Keep it Away from the Scorching Light 

Before doing anything else, it’s best to move your plant away from the hot zone. So it doesn’t deteriorate further. 

Step Two: Place it in the Right Location

If it’s outdoors then you should consider replanting it under a tree. If indoors then there should be a slightly opaque glass window or blinded window to provide ample shade for your Begonias. And the window should be a north-facing one.

Not Enough Sunlight

It’s normal for one to overthink about burning their Begonias, as it’s one of the major reasons why they die due to lack of ample light.

If not, then it’s probably because the plant is receiving ambient weak lights or not enough sun rays as most begonia requires at least 2000 foot candles of sunlight intensity.

Solution

The best step to take is to relocate your Begonias to where they can receive sunlight at 400 to 800 footcandles. And you’ll find this with the help of a Lux meter or by performing the hand shadow test (well-defined hand shadow = great lighting).

Or you can purchase artificial lighting devices such as grow lights. (Check out the latest price on Amazon here)

Begonias Dying in Cold Temperatures

Once the temperature hits 55°F then you should begin to worry about your plant getting frostbitten. Because, like every other tropical plant, your Begonias can’t do well during the winter, so it’s naturally a dormancy period for it.

If you don’t take measures to stop its suffering from the cold, then the leaves, stems, and crucial parts of the plants will begin to die. 

Begonias Dying in Cold Temperatures
Begonias Dying in Cold Temperatures

How to Revive Begonias from Cold Injury

If it’s outdoors, then you should bring it in so it can get warmer. If needed, you can cover it up with a lightweight blanket to prevent frosting. Also, make sure to Prune the damaged parts of the plant, so it can look good and be more resistant to further damage.

Begonias Dying after Repotting

Even after Repotting your plant, there’s a high chance it could still die. How? If the pot you wish to reuse still contains the soil that damaged your Begonias due to Overwatering, the new one will suffer as well.

Because your affected begonias which were uprooted in the first place due to rotten roots activated the fungal pathogen in the soil. 

Solution

The best way to prevent your new or trimmed Begonias from dying once again is to treat the soil. Or to save you the trouble you can always set up a new soil. 

Here’s the soil treatment Process:

  • Remove all remnants of your Begonias’ roots, leaves, or infected stems.
  • Drain the soil
  • Heat it up: you could stem microwave or bake it (for 30 minutes at 180°F (82°C)

How to safely un-pot and dispose of your Begonias suffering from Pythium Rot or Rhizoctonia Crown Rot

Step One: Cut the Extended Roots below the Pot

Sometimes the roots could drive through the pot’s drainage hole and then accidentally fasten the whole Plant to the pot. What you need to do is cut these roots with a Pair of pruning blades. So that the plant would be a lot looser to remove.

Step Two: Safely Up-Root your Begonias

The less messy method is to flip the pot down while supporting the pot at its edges. Then you gently tap the bottom till the plant falls off. If it’s heavier then you should let it lay on its sides and pull the plant carefully. 

Step Three: Dig Around the Plant

If the plant persists to come off, get a garden trowel or knife and cut around the plant in such a way you drive a few inches between the pot’s edges. And it should be done around the plant. At this point, the plant should be weak enough to extract. 

Step four: Sterilize your Tools

To prevent the further spread of this disease, you should sterilize your gardening tool with bleach, soap, or alcohol.

How Not to Kill Your Begonias? 

To ensure safe growth and minimal problems for your begonias, you need to ensure the conditions in which it lives are perfect. Along with the way you care for it. Here is a list of tips to follow:

  • Make sure the soil does not stay too wet or too dry 
  • Ensure the pot has well-defined drainage 
  • Check for any signs of pest attacks 
  • Be on the lookout for infection
  • Ensure the air is humid enough 
  • Treat your soil before planting Begonias 
  • Locate your Begonias in a shaded environment 
  • Avoid drafty spots