Begonia foliosa is an interesting, miniature shrub-like variety of Begonia.
Native to South America, it has red succulent stems and lots of small, toothed leaves that give it a real sharp aesthetic. In fact, the tight leaf arrangement gives rise to the common name “Fern Begonia” or it also goes by the “Fuchsia Begonia” for its fuchsia-like flowers.
Though often grown in hanging baskets for their arching growth habit, they’re not a particularly hardy species and they thrive in a high humidity – which makes them excellent terrarium plants.
With such dense foliage and arching branches, Begonia foliosa looks a little like a bonsai tree to me, which can serve as a great feature in a terrarium.
Begonia foliosa Care & Growth
|Lighting||Bright, indirect light|
|Watering||Regular, even moisture|
|Humidity||High humidity (60-90%)|
Begonia foliosa is a shade loving plant. Medium to high, indirect light is ideal, and keep out of direct sunshine to avoid scorching the leaves.
As with most Begonias, B. foliosa likes consistent moisture in order to thrive. This plant will quickly die if its dries out, but it also doesn’t like to have wet leaves, so try not to directly water this one.
Instead, watering the substrate around it is a safer method.
In order to supply consistent moisture, a substrate with a high water retention will go a long way in keeping Begonia foliosa happy in a terrarium. Try supplementing with sphagnum moss, coconut coir or perlite.
Temperature & Humidity
The fern begonia really needs a high humidity to thrive, which is what makes them such a great closed terrarium plant. As for temperature, they’ll do best when they’re consistently warm.
Try to avoid the extremes with this plant.
The fuschia begonia can be a rapid grower once settled. Initially it will grow directly upright, before the tips begin to form their characteristic arches as they mature.
Thanks to the fact that Begonia foliosa roots at every leaf node, it’s very easy to take a viable cutting to propagate.
Varieties & Similar Plants
The ‘Minata’ variety appears to be the most common (and seemingly only) available variety of Begonia foliosa, but there are lots of other suitable terrarium plants in the genus, e.g. Begonia bipinnatifida and Begonia maculata.
Growers have reported that Begonia foliosa reacts poorly to cold water and doesn’t like to have water on its leaves either.