Begonia Julau is an extremely rare, pink-leaved Begonia, which is a native of the town which gives it its name. Julau is in the Sarawak district of Borneo in Malaysia, which is why this plant prefers high humidity and warm temperatures.
Begonia Julau’s gorgeous, rounded dark green leaves have pointed pink ends. The edging and the ends of the leaves look like they were painted pink by an artist.
They have incredible pink markings running in vivid patterns all over the leaves. This explains why the plant is commonly known as the Butterfly Begonia or the Angel Wing Begonia.
Begonia Julau Type 1 is its official name and is easily confused with its close relative, Begonia Julau Type 2. The Julau Type 1 is smaller and more delicate in patterning than Type 2, which is slightly taller with longer leaves, (but just to confuse us) also has pink leaf patterning.
Despite the differences in size and name between Julau type 1 & 2, you can use the same care instructions for both plants.
In 2021, the delightful Begonia Julau Type 1 plant was named as U number 684 to avoid further confusion.
Read on to discover how to care for this very rare plant.
Featured images by Botanicaz.
- Light: Bright indirect sunlight
- Water: Prefers mildly moist soil, but never dry out totally
- Soil: Well-drained, peat moss, sphagnum moss based
- Fertilizer: Small amount, once every 2 years
- Size: Up to 14″ (35.5 cm) tall
- Size: Leaves grow up to 1″ (2.5 cm) long and 1/2” (1.25 cm) wide
- Leaf color: Dark green with a purple rim
- Temperature: Between 60º and 85ºF (27°C)
- Humidity: Best Above 60%
- Cold hardy: Not frost hardy. Keep indoors!
- Propagation: By cuttings and leaf propagation
- Toxicity: Toxic to humans and animals
General Care for Begonia Julau
The key to watering this plant is to remember the Equatorial rainforest. Rainstorms happen and spill a lot of rain, which dries away quickly when the sun comes back out. Water evaporation and hot, steamy conditions are what this plant will like.
For these reasons, a terrarium is ideal for planting Begonia Julau. It’s made of glass but the top is open, which allows moisture to remain in the immediate environment. You need to be very careful not to let the roots sit in too wet conditions though.
Make sure you apply pebbles and a layer of charcoal for good drainage. See more in the paragraph about soil below.
Begonia Julau likes sunlight but prefers indirect light from a south-facing window. It will not thrive without enough sun and sometimes will drop its leaves to let you know that something is wrong.
Try to locate it near a south-facing window to maximize growth. Julau will also enjoy artificial lighting if you place it in a terrarium. Good fluorescent growing lights will provide enough lighting so your Begonia Julau will thrive.
For this plant use a well-draining potting compost, which will keep it moist but never wet.
Some growers add extra layers to aid drainage. This can include sphagnum moss in terrariums for Julau and you can also add perlite, sand or grit and a layer of charcoal, and finally, pebbles to aid drainage.
Water will then run through the soil, reach the next layer of moss or sand, and then charcoal. It comes to rest in the pebbles, where the roots can seek water out if they need it. The extra height provided by this layering also allows the plant a little more breathing space around the roots.
When you get your new plant, it is normally a stem cutting taken from the mother Begonia Julau plant. The cuttings seem very delicate and tiny so plant it in a small pot, which allows for root expansion to double in size.
These Begonias tend to become top-heavy so give it a heavy, earthenware pot that has good drainage.
In the rainforest, they were supported by other close-growing plants but in your pot, they are alone. A stake may be inserted at planting time, to allow it to lean against. When your plant has doubled in size (usually 9-12 months), then it’s time to re-pot it and give it some rich, new soil.
Begonia Julau grows slowly but tends to become quite leggy. It will probably reach a maximum of about 14″ (35.5 cm) if you are very lucky. The central cane is almost like bamboo, and growers say that the plant tends to become top-heavy.
Pruning at that stage is essential so that your plant does not fall over.
These top shoots can be carefully cut from the plant and used to propagate, although this is a tricky plant, which may not be as generous as other Begonias in reproducing from leaves and stems. Read more about propagation below.
However, do not cut leaves if you have less than 6 leaves on your plant. Wait until it produces 9 or 10 leaves before pruning. If your plant is larger with side-shoots, you can cut a whole stem, which will propagate much more easily.
Go very easy on pruning a new, young plant.
If you keep re-potting as the plant grows bigger, then fertilizer is not necessary for Begonia Julau. The soil should provide it with all it needs. The only time the plant might like a bit of extra TLC is when it flowers.
Then you can add a fertilizer suitable for Begonias, to give it a bit more energy. The yellow flowers have a lovely scent and they will bring a touch of magic into your home with pink leaves and yellow blooms.
This plant is a rain forest plant and I cannot emphasize enough how important humidity is. Begonia Julau likes moist soil and if humidity falls below 40%, there’s a big chance that the plant is going to wilt and possibly drop leaves. So keep this plant well watered and check it regularly.
Some growers recommend putting the plant in a terrarium planting system. They work really well but you may not have the space for a terrarium and it is not essential.
Other ways to keep the humidity around the plant high is by using a humidifier, a pebble tray, or misting the plant once every 3-4 days.
Keep the air temperature warm for Begonia Julau. Its absolute minimum is 70ºF (21ºC) but it thrives in warmer air temperatures up to 66ºF (30ºC). This is not a plant that is good in a draft nor does it appreciate a cold corner in your home.
Make sure the window where your Julau sits does not get frosty in winter. Check temperature drops in your house in winter when the heating turns off at night. It may drop below the minimum so ensure your Begonia Julau is in a cozy space with no drafts.
If the temperature often falls below 70ºF (21ºC) you could use a heat matt to keep the plant at the right temperature.
Indoor Begonia plants are prone to attack from a range of pests such as whitefly, spider mites, mealybugs, and gnats.
Keep your eye on your plant for webs of red spider mites. Wipe these and other pests away with a sponge or cloth soaked with soap.
If you put your Julau outside in July and August for some summer sunshine, you may find that caterpillars, slugs, and snails all like to munch the tasty, pink leaves. These pests eat small holes in the leaves, so physically remove these munchers and put them in your compost.
Powdery mildew and fungal diseases can affect Begonia Julau, due to the environment they prefer. Moist soil, warm temperatures, which make the perfect environment for fungal diseases.
A fungus (Erysiphe cichoracearum) causes mildew by spreading fungus strands and spores. Fungus is usually spread by air current so it is very important (if a plant has fungus) to remove other close plants which may also get infected.
Try to improve ventilation around your Begonia Julau, if you notice mildew but keep the temperature steady. Remove damaged leaves and dispose of them.
There are commercial fungicides available that will treat this fungus but you can also try Neem oil or Potassium Bicarbonate.
Apply this (in a mixture of 5 drops of oil to a glass of water) every week if the infection is bad and every 2 weeks after it comes under control.
How can you keep your Begonia Julau problem free?
Remember that this is a rare, delicate plant that will reward you with its good looks providing you give it the best of everything.
- Place it in a warm location with lots of indirect sunlight such as a south facing, sunny windowsill with a net curtain. This will prevent leaf burn but allow daily sunshine to penetrate.
- Plant your pink Julau in moist, fertile compost which drains really well and when it has doubled in size, then re-pot with new soil.
- Ensure the temperature does not drop lower than 70ºF (21ºC) even in winter.
- Remove dead leaves from the top of the soil, which may harbour pests or encourage mildew to form. If you spot mildew reach for the Neem oil!
- If you spot a flower bud coming, then you are blessed. The yellow blooms have a fabulous scent and flowers tell you that your Begonia Julau is enjoying its time with you.
How to Propagate Begonia Julau
The Begonia family is famous for its ability to produce new plants by leaf division by cutting the veins. For Begonia Julau, leaf-cutting propagation is reported to be less successful with many growers. It seems that stem cuttings are more successful.
- Cut a small piece of stem with 2 or 3 leaves attached.
- You can place the cutting in water and give it a lot of indirect sunlight (no direct sunlight) for a week or so.
- If roots develop, you can pot the plant in the regular Begonia Julau soil mix with sphagnum moss and perlite.
Stem cuttings can also be dipped into hormone rooting powder, then potted in compost with some sphagnum and perlite to help drainage. Water the pot generously.
Check for roots after 2-3 weeks. Keep watering regularly.
- With a clean pruning shears, carefully remove a leaf from your plant.
- Cut it right back to the stem.
- Then divide the leaf into 5-6 smaller pieces, ensuring there is a vein in each cutting.
- Place it upright in soil.
- The roots will begin to form after a about one month but be warned that a full plant takes a lot longer to grow.
NOTE: Single leaf propagation works better for Type 2, which is tall, with a central stem similar to bamboo. Cut the end of the leaf into a point, then place it directly in the soil. Water as for stem cuttings.
Why are the leaves of my Begonia Julau turning yellow?
The most common reason that Begonia Julau’s leaves are turning yellow is because of water stress, which can either be from under watering or overwatering. Begonia Julau likes its soil to be moist, but not soggy. If the leaves are yellow, check the soil in the pot and see if the soil is dry or not.
If the soil feels very dry, water the plant and make sure that all the excess water is drained out of the pot or saucer.
Check the plant’s location with regard to direct sun. It could also be leaf burn.
Why are the leaves of my Begonia Julau brown?
Leaves turning brown at the edges is a sign of under-watering. Begonia Julau likes to be located in a moist place, like a terrarium, with heat, moisture, shade, and adequate light. This simulates a forest floor, where the plant gets moisture, rich soil, and indirect light, maybe shade.
Try to check your plant more often and water it really well so that the water reaches the root ball and make sure that the excess water drains away.
Is the Begonia Julau toxic?
Yes. This is a plant to keep well away from children, dogs, and cats. The most poisonous part is the root or tuber. The leaves of Begonia Julau (and most Begonias) apparently taste quite sour so they are not attractive for most young nibblers.
However, they all have oxalic acid in the tissue of the plants so it is not advisable to eat or consume the leaves, the stems, or tuber. In some areas of the world, people have eaten small amounts of Begonias and survived but it is definitely not recommended!
Why is my Begonia Julau wilting?
The most common reason that the Begonia Julau is wilting is because of dry soil. If the soil feels very dry to the touch, you want to water the plant rather sooner than later.
Don’t just use small amounts of water. This plant likes moist conditions. It’s also important to make sure the pot that the plant is in has drainage holes. The drainage holes allow excess water to drain away, and thereby prevent the roots from rotting.
After watering your wilting Begonia, it will take about a day to fully recover but let this be a warning and establish a regular watering system.
The Begonia Julau Type 1 plant is a delightful and rare addition to any Begonia-loving household. The instructions for its care given here will ensure your plant thrives in a warm, suitable location in your house. Enjoy it!