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Begonia pavonina - "Peacock Begonia"

Welcome to Begonia pavonina, the famed "Peacock Begonia".  When light hits the leaves from a certain angle, they light up with a shimmering metallic blue similar to a Morpho butterfly.  The plant is found only in the cool, mountain forests of Malaysia.  The iridescence of its leaves is a fascinating adaptation to low light levels of the forest floor.  If you can provide the right conditions, it is easy to grow.

Begonia pavonina - "Peacock Begonia"

The leaves of this rhizomatous Begonia average 4 to 6 inches long and have attractive, burgundy undersides.  The top is normally a satiny dark-green, but appears iridescent in the right lighting due to the design of the leaf surface.  Scientists have studied its unusual iridescence and believe it functions to extract more energy from what little light it receives in the dark forest understory.  The plant blooms all throughout the year for me, with pretty, pink & white flowers.  You may cross-breed it with certain other Begonias to create interesting, new hyrids.

Begonia pavonina - "Peacock Begonia"

This Begonia is happiest in temperatures between about 55 and 75 degrees degrees F (24°C).  It reportedly does not do well in consistently warm temperatures, particularly when nights are warm.  It grows well for me at 50% humidity, but i do not recommend much lower than that.  While it grows fine in bright shade, the blue iridescence develops best in deep shade.  Natural light seems to bring out the blue better than artificial light, as does cool night temperatures.  You may use a standard, well-draining potting mix used for other terrarium Begonias.  I use a mix of 3 parts perlite to 2 part coir fiber or long-fiber sphagnum moss.  It prefers slightly alkaline soil, so add a dash of lime to the mix if your water is low in minerals ("soft" water).  Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy.  Keep the plant root-bound in a short pot for the best leaf color.  It is a very vigorous grower for me.

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Photo 1 courtesy of Harry Witmore, photo 2 by Magalie L'Abbé

 

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Turquoise Puya

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