Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Beefsteak Begonia
Begonia 'Erythrophylla'

Family: Begoniaceae (be-gon-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Begonia (be-GON-yuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Erythrophylla

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One vendor has this plant for sale.

15 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From leaf cuttings
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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By Happenstance
Thumbnail #1 of Begonia  by Happenstance

By Happenstance
Thumbnail #2 of Begonia  by Happenstance

By se_eds
Thumbnail #3 of Begonia  by se_eds

By Secretary
Thumbnail #4 of Begonia  by Secretary

By Secretary
Thumbnail #5 of Begonia  by Secretary

By TamiXWP
Thumbnail #6 of Begonia  by TamiXWP

By vossner
Thumbnail #7 of Begonia  by vossner

There are a total of 9 photos.
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11 positives
No neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive birder17 On Sep 14, 2012, birder17 from Jackson, MO (Zone 6b) wrote:

I love, love, love this plant. It is a most unique houseplant because the gorgeous, shiny leaves make a circle with the edge of the leaf circling around to the other side of the stem. I have it next to my north window, and the sunlight from the outside shines through the leaf. You can see the chartreuse, large vein radiating out from the stem on the background of the maroon underside of the leaf and the top side of this leaf is a rich, dark, forest green. So, you have dark, glossy, forest green on the topside and deep maroon on the bottom with chartreuse vein going through the leaf. It's a beautiful contrast and quite striking.
I rec'd this plant from a good friend who had propagated hers. Propagation can be done two ways that I know of:
1. Cut the leaf right next to the stem. Stick it in dry Houseplant Potting Soil in a small pot. Water the plant from the bottom. Keep a watch on it and water when the water in the saucer is empty. When the plant quits absorbing the water, empty the saucer of water out. Then water about once a week.
2. Cut a piece of the "ropey" stem that winds its way out of the pot. The piece can be three or four inches. Cut the leaves off of the bottom part of the stem. Cover the stem and part of the leaves in soil. Water from the bottom. Watching when the plant needs more water. Empty when the plant quits pulling up water.

It will take a couple of weeks to maybe six weeks for the plant to take off. Just keep watering the plant from the bottom about once a week. If the leaf doesn't look dead, then it's growing. Then, it will start putting out more leaves.

Mine has never bloomed, however, I hardly ever fertilize it. I am not a "good" houseplant caretaker. I sometimes forget to water them and rarely fertilize. This plant droops and lets you know it needs a drink. I think that's why I have had such success with this plant. It's been real easy to take care of and a real joy to own.

I have never seen this plant in any garden center. I consider it a privilege to have one.

Positive cam2 On Apr 10, 2011, cam2 from Houston, TX wrote:

I love this plant! My mother gave me her's (seems like a recurrent theme) many years ago. I thought I had lost it in the hard winter two years ago, but a small part managed to live, and is growing and getting large again ~ in fact, this Spring it has had more blooms than it ever has.

Positive Horsefarm1 On Dec 31, 2010, Horsefarm1 from Simpsonville, KY wrote:

My Beefsteak begonia belonged to my mother and is over 60 years old. I remember it from my childhood. The plant is now in the largest pot that I can pick up and move, with stems draped over the side, and blooms beautifully for months in the Spring and Summer. I move it outside - under the maple trees - where it gets filtered sunlight. I give it a weak fertilizing when in bloom, and also give it epsom salts dissolved in warm water - it must really like this - about every two months or so. Follow the directions on the package. Inside, it enjoys bright light but no direct sunshine. This begonia brings back so many happy memories!

Negative rmbbsd06 On Sep 13, 2010, rmbbsd06 from Chesterfield, VA wrote:

I was given a cutting of this plant and have had problems with small flying bugs, which look like small gnats on the plant and in the soil. Any help with how to treat this problem will be appreciated.

Positive Nanzlynn On May 19, 2010, Nanzlynn from Chico, CA wrote:

This is one of my favorite plants, however I'd like to know if anyone has advice on how to get it to grow faster. I purchased one online with 3 leafs late last summer and it grew a leaf or two and seems to be dormant. I'm worried about not having much new growth, so I snipped a couple of leafs with the stems and they are rooting in water. I had no success with one of the stems in soil or the leaf cutting divided, both didn't root. I'd love more info on how to grow and propagate this lovely plant. I'm in Northern California and keep it indoors, but would love to get it to grow well outdoors too.

Positive Ispahan On Jul 25, 2009, Ispahan from Chicago, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

This might possibly be the best begonia houseplant available. It is vigorous, healthy, problem-free and tolerant of any hardship or neglect you can think of. But if you treat it well--bright, indirect light; fluffy and airy soil with steady moisture; a mild dose of balanced fertilizer with trace elements once in a while; and occasional repotting--it will grow into the largest, lushest and most beautiful of specimens. It will be the plant that visitors to your home will comment on and ask about. People will beg for a start. Guests, even those who "know about plants," will overlook all the other exotic rarities in your home and make a bee-line to check out your beefsteak begonia. This is truly an amiable, heirloom quality hybrid.

Positive begoniacrazii On Sep 2, 2008, begoniacrazii from Northern California, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Rhizomatous type hybridized in Germany, 1849. This popular begonia is was produced by crossing B. hydrocolylifolia X B. maculata.
Makes an excellent houseplant and is easy to care for. Mine goes to a covered patio for the summer and comes back inside for winter. Propagates easily from leaf cuttings or rhizome cuttings.

Positive ilovebegonias On May 28, 2008, ilovebegonias from Centreville, AL wrote:

I love begonias, but especially the beefsteak (as we call it in Alabama). It has been years since I had one and they are so very rare that I had trouble locating another. I have a cutting but don't know how to root and plant it successfully. HELP!!
Thanks, Alabama

Positive LaunaLou On Apr 22, 2008, LaunaLou from Federal Way, WA wrote:

I have a Beefsteak Begonia plant that is about 2 feet around and about 16-18 inches tall. I got my cutting from my grandma, about 4 years ago. It now has 10 bloom stalks on it! The biggest leaf is about 8 inches around. The plant can go for a while without water. When the soil is pulling dry from the rim of the pot; that is when I water it. and not too much water, either. I have fed it on occasion; but not every time I water it. It is my favorite plant. I have about 60 plants. The majority are; begonias, hoyas and Rhipsalis cactuses.

Positive bertthetroll On May 28, 2007, bertthetroll from Spencerport, NY wrote:

I just love this plant, letting the soil dry slightly before watering again has worked for me, otherwise if you forget to water the plant it will wilt, when you water it it perks up, its a great plant to have. They are considered rare, I haven't had much success in finding them in my area, Glasshouse Works has nice ones, I just recently purchased one that is like the beefsteak, same family, but spirals instead. very nice..

Positive Happenstance On Feb 20, 2004, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

This is a Begonia that has been around for a long time and was very popular several decades ago when I first acquired mine.

Beef Steak is a Rhizomatous Begonia. If acclimatized first, they can take full sun with no problem, but should be given some shade when cuttings or new rhizomes are planted. Flowers profusely in the Spring and on and off until late fall here in 10a.

Positive thechad On Nov 18, 2003, thechad from Cowarts, AL wrote:

In southeast Alabama (U.S.) we refer to this as a "Beefsteak Begonia" or "Beefleaf Begonia" because if it gets the right amount of sunlight - enough to change its color but not scorch its leaves - it will turn bright maroon on top of the leaf as well as on the bottom. The center where the stalk meets the leaf stays a light to white green. It looks a great deal like a sliced ribeye with a center bone; hence the name. They were once very popular and easily located in this area, however I have not seen one since mine died nearly 7 years ago. This information is about the begonia with the latin name "hydrocotylifolia"

Editor's note: Begonia hydrocotylifolia is one of the parents of Begonia 'Erythrophylla'


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Centreville, Alabama
Clayton, California
Dublin, California
Fairfield, California
Bartow, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Chicago, Illinois
Mount Sterling, Kentucky
Simpsonville, Kentucky
Lafayette, Louisiana
Hanover, Michigan
Monroe, Michigan
Columbia, Mississippi
Jackson, Missouri
Spencerport, New York
Granville, Ohio
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Houston, Texas
Humble, Texas
Port Lavaca, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
Federal Way, Washington

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