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Heirloom Hybrid Begonia, Beefsteak Begonia, Kidney Begonia, Pond Lily Begonia 'Erythrophylla'


Family: Begoniaceae (be-gon-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Begonia (be-GON-yuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Erythrophylla
Additional cultivar information:(aka Beefsteak, B. hydrocotylifolia x B. manicata)
Hybridized by Warscewics
Registered or introduced: 1849
Synonym:Begonia bunchii
Synonym:Begonia erythrophylla
» View all varieties of Begonias




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:

Unknown - Tell us

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

Foliage Color:


Light Green

Medium Green


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Flowers are showy

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


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

Columbus, Nebraska

Spencerport, New York

Granville, Ohio

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Houston, Texas

Humble, Texas

Port Lavaca, Texas

Leesburg, Virginia

Federal Way, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 20, 2019, gmg22 from South Burlington, VT wrote:

I was excited to discover that this variety of begonia is not very common, as I am in possession of a plant that has descended, via cuttings and hand-me-downs, through five generations of my family. It took me awhile to figure out what variety it was, since it was known to my great-great-aunt (who inherited it from her mother) as a "swamp lily begonia," not a name I've ever been able to track down anywhere else but obviously our family's variation on the pond lily begonia name. It was on a visit to the Montreal Botanical Gardens that I spotted the same plant with the Erythrophylla label and was able to connect the dots.

My mother's plant was not doing that well, and she asked me for a cutting recently. You have to be fairly patient when propagating these, it seems -- but the... read more


On May 18, 2019, Lovescatsandkids from Auburn, AL wrote:

I am grateful to find the first mention I've ever seen anywhere of the beefsteak begonia. When we lost ours several years ago, I searched and searched for a mention on the www and could not find one. I thought they must be exceedingly rare, but apparently not.
Several people have asked about this plant. Though there is at least one description of successful propagation and cultivation already, I'll add a bit about my experiences. My husband and some of his friends had been growing this plant for at least 20 years before I came along. Ours continued do well until I had back surgery and could not bend for 6 months. It died from lack of water (though it likes dry-ish conditions), but we were able to get a cutting from our friends (carefully driven 700 miles to our home) and I root... read more


On Feb 11, 2019, colagardener from Columbia, SC wrote:

Gardeners of several generations in my family had this wonderful plant that in flourished as a potted plants indoors or outdoors, as long as protected from direct sunlight. Unfortunately, I lost my last battle to save the last of my beefsteak begonia plants two years ago and have had no luck at all in finding a replacement plant. Could Dave's Garden subscribers advise me on where I might turn? I've searched every garden center in this state without success. Help, please! Thank you!


On Oct 11, 2018, Mokhtarian from Delafield, WI wrote:

I have one big beefsteak begonia. It was doing really well since I planted in a larg pot, but by mistake I put it outside to get some fresh air and sun was too bright and I think most of the leaves were burnt. Now it has so many new leaves, but they are pretty small like 3 or 4 inches. They used to be 6-7 inches. I feed the plant every 2-4 week though. Does any one have any recommendations for me to encourage bigger leaves for this plant?? Please!


On Feb 4, 2018, Giannis123 from Saginaw, MI wrote:

I love this plant! I've had my beefsteak begonia for nearly five years from a friend that had given me a small leaf with stem. My plant blooms nearly every season with petite white flowers on long stems. I plan on keeping this plant and giving to my children as a pass-me down. The begonia is so sun to watch the pretty forest green part of top leaf and maroon underside. Seeing the chartreuse vein is interesting and creates a love for a long lived plant.


On Jan 28, 2018, Hopgoddess from Murrysville, PA wrote:

I received this plant from an elderly neighbor that had to move. It is not in great shape having been neglected for a while. It is fairly large, and blooming right now. It has long, curling stems where it is obvious that these used to have many leaves attached. Is it possible to propagate by stem cuttings? What is the best method?


On Mar 19, 2017, wakingdream from Allentown, PA wrote:

I submitted my photo above as I attempted to propagate Begonia erythrophylla from a stem cutting in water and leaf wedges in soil. Both methods were very successful in two months' time. New leaves have been produced by the stem cutting, two of them while it was in water and two more since it was potted. I kept a vented, plastic bag humidity tent above it for 2 weeks or so after initially potting it up. Three of the leaf wedges produced plantlets, my first-ever success with this method of propagation. It was extremely gratifying to see them appearing like a green dot next to the sunken leaf wedge, and enlarging quickly to a current height of 3 inches with multiple new branches. I have not removed the plantlets from their community pot yet as other leaf wedges look like they may also p... read more


On Feb 26, 2017, Basporing from Columbus, NE wrote:

I was given a slip of this plant about 12 years from a lady who's plant was about 6 feet tall due to the lighting of the room in her house, she was 94 then and has since passed on.
I love this plant and this past December my son asked for a slip his is still in water and has bloomed this past week, be is so excited about it..We live in Nebraska and keep our plants in the east facing window but it does very well in the West facing also..Yes mine too is now starting it's blooms.


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 t... read more


On Apr 10, 2011, cam2 from Gustine, TX (Zone 8a) 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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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..


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.


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'