An eye-catching evergreen perennial that’s often grown as a houseplant, Begonia Gryphon has the “tropical vibe” down pat. With its thick, colorful leaves and unique appearance, it’s a beautiful addition to shady gardens and houseplant collections. The official botanical name of this plant is Begonia x hybrida ‘Gryphon’. Commonly, it is called either the Gryphon Begonia or Begonia Gryphon. Read on to learn both essential and general information about how to care for this plant both indoors and out.
Meet the Gryphon Begonia
An herbaceous perennial in the Begoniaceae family, Begonia Gryphon is a foliage plant with maple-like leaves. The colorful foliage consists of palmate green leaves with white variegation and maroon leaf undersides and leaf veins. It’s a majestic beauty that’s named after the mythical creature known as the gryphon. With the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, the gryphon, though only a figment of man’s imagination, is unforgettable – just like its namesake plant. The common name may have been assigned because the leaves look a bit like an eagle talon or an eagle wing. Or maybe it’s because the Gryphon Begonia is an equally tough and striking creature!
The green foliage reaches a height of 14 to 16 inches (36-41 cm) and a width of 16 to 18 inches (41-46 cm) at maturity. Unlike some other types of begonias, Gryphon has an upright growth habit with thick stems that are bamboo-like in appearance. The stems are herbaceous, not woody.
What type of begonia is a Gryphon begonia?
There are seven distinct types of begonias, including tuberous, Rex, trailing, rhizomatous, semperflorens, shrub begonias, and the cane begonias. Between these seven categories are almost two thousand species and cultivars. Begonia Gryphon is a cultivar in the cane-type begonia group. Traits of cane begonias include thick, upright stems and the absence of rhizomes or tubers. The roots of cane begonias are fibrous, and the group also includes other common begonias such as angel wing, dragon wing, and the polka dot begonia (Begonia maculata).
Of the many hybrids of begonia in existence today, the durability and versatility of this easy-care plant make it a wonderful choice for indoor and outdoor growing, depending on where you live.
Where to grow this foliage plant
Members of the genus Begonia evolved in various tropical regions around the world. Because of this, very few are hardy in areas where freezing temperatures occur. Begonia Gryphon is no exception. It does not survive frost. Because of this, Gryphon Begonia plants can be grown outdoors year-round only in USDA zones 8 and higher (think Florida and southern Louisiana). In other regions, treat it as an annual plant if you want to grow it outdoors, just like you would for other begonias such as wax and tuberous begonias. At the end of the outdoor growing season, you can either discard the plant or move it indoors and grow it as a houseplant.
Another option is to grow Begonia Gryphon as a houseplant year-round. You can opt to keep it indoors all the time, or you can move the pot outside for the summer months. Just remember to move it back indoors before fall’s first frost.
Begonia Gryphon makes an excellent specimen for container gardens. Its unique foliage makes it a perfect “thriller” for container designs that employ the “thriller, filler, spiller” combination.
The best light for Begonia Gryphon
Proper light levels are essential for attractive foliage. Too much sun results in bleached out or scorched leaves. Because this is an understory plant from tropical regions, if you’re growing Gryphon Begonias outdoors in the ground or in a pot, pick a site with part shade that receives some sun in the early morning or later in the evening. The partial sun found beneath a deciduous tree is another condition that would suit this plant.
Indoors, place your Gryphon Begonia in an east- or west-facing window where it receives either morning or late afternoon sun. Avoid the bright direct sun of a south-facing window. A north-facing window is another possible option, as long as there is not a roof overhang or anther structure blocking the minimal light levels this exposure already receives here in the Northern Hemisphere. You can also use a grow light if you don’t have an ideal window.
The best temperature for this cane begonia is between 60° and 85° F. Prolonged temperatures below about 50° F will restrict new growth. Anything below freezing results in blackened foliage and plant death.
Overly humid conditions and poor air circulation can result in fungal diseases such as botrytis and powdery mildew. To avoid these pathogens, be sure the plants receive good air circulation if they are planted outdoors. Indoors, this is seldom an issue since the humidity levels in most homes are on the drier side, especially in the wintertime.
Watering Gryphon Begonias
While Begonia Gryphon is not considered a low-water plant, it is a water-efficient plant. The thick, herbaceous stems hold onto moisture, though not quite in the same way a drought-tolerant succulent plant does. Still, err on the drier side for this plant.
Water Gryphon Begonias only when the soil has fully dried throughout the entire root zone. Cane begonias are prone to stem and root rot if the soil is kept too wet or if the base of pot is left sitting in standing water. Dry conditions are better than wet ones for this beauty.
When watering Begonia Gryphon, use a watering can to apply water only to the soil and let it flush through the soil and out the drainage holes if the plant is growing in a pot. Keep the leaves as dry as possible to reduce the chances of fungal disease. If it’s growing in the ground, aim the irrigation water on the soil, not on the foliage. Obviously, you can’t keep rain from wetting the foliage, so don’t worry too much about it.
In general, the Gryphon Begonia is a low maintenance plant, but fertilization is helpful, especially when growing it in a container. For plants growing in a pot (regardless of whether you’re growing it indoors or out), use a liquid houseplant fertilizer every 4 weeks from March through September. Alternatively, you can use a granular houseplant fertilizer every 2 months. Do not fertilize in the winter unless you live in a tropical climate.
For begonias growing outdoors in the ground, little fertilization is needed. If you amend your garden with compost or mulch each season, as it decomposes it will release nutrients into the soil. If you’d like, you can add an organic granular fertilizer to the planting site in the spring, though it isn’t necessary for success.
How often to repot
Gryphon Begonias can live for many years in the same pot. Clay pots are a good choice for begonias because they are porous and dry out more quickly than plastic pots. Glazed ceramic pots are a good option, too.
How do you know when to repot a Gryphon Begonia? Here are three signs to watch for.
- When the irrigation water runs down the inside of the pot without soaking into the soil it’s probably time to repot.
- If the canes or roots seem to be bursting out of the pot and pushing out against the sides, it’s time to repot.
- If you tip the plant out of the pot and see the roots circling around inside the pot, it’s another sign of the need to repot.
To repot, choose a container 2 inches wider than the existing pot. Use a standard potting mix or a houseplant-specific potting soil with a little extra perlite added for the job. If the roots are pot-bound, loosen them with your fingers or a handheld garden fork to break up the ball prior to replanting it.
How to propagate Gryphon Begonias
While this plant is available from many retailers, it is also fun to share this plant with friends by propagating it yourself. Like vegetative Rex begonias, these cane begonias are easy to propagate.
Use one of these Gryphon Begonia propagation methods:
- Crown division (aka cutting the plant in half)
- Rooting a stem or leaf cutting in a glass of water
- Rooting a stem or leaf cutting in soil
- Heel, mallet, or wedge propagation
Does Begonia Gryphon flower?
Like another popular shade-loving plant, the coleus, Gryphon Begonias are grown primarily for their gorgeous foliage. However, Gryphon will produce white to pale pink blooms occasionally. The plant is photoperiodic, which means the act of flowering is initiated by exposure to a specific day/night cycle for a certain period of time. For Gryphon Begonias, the plant will flower only when the day length is less than 11 hours for a period of at least 8-10 weeks. Often, this means the plant will flower very late in the season, if at all, in northern regions.
Though this is a carefree foliage plant, there are a few possible problems that could occur. Poor air circulation, prolonged humid conditions, or foliage that is wet for long periods of time can encourage the development of various foliage diseases. Keep the plant on the drier side to prevent this.
Occasionally whitefly, thrips, mites, and mealybugs can take hold. They sometimes piggyback their way indoors if the plant is placed outdoors for the summer and then brought back inside for the winter. This article shares information on how to safely get rid of these troublesome houseplant pests.
Grow a Gryphon
Great success with this plant is easier than you might think. It is a real looker that requires minimal maintenance if you place the plant in the right spot. It’s a fun plant to experiment with various propagation techniques, too. Enjoy growing a Gryphon of your own!
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