Begonia versicolor

If you are looking for a Begonia species that has it all for terrarium culture, this is an excellent choice.  It is a small growing, compact species that is easy to keep and propagate and has beautiful foliage (even the backsides of the leaves are something to marvel at).  It is a Rhizomatous species native to Central China.  “Leslie Woodriff called it the “Fairy Carpet” begonia because of the velvety appearance of its dark green leaves, frosted with silver and covered with thick red hairs, especially down the veins.” (from

Caution is advised during summer months, as this species does not like heat.

The flowers range in color from whiteish-pink to more yellow like the ones below.  Tepals are covered in pinkish-red hairs.

A flower on a clone of the first plant, displaying markedly different flower color,

And the incredibly bizarre ovary with a large downward facing ‘hook’.  The hairs on it are perhaps designed to catch on an animal, but interestingly display a high degree of ‘stickiness’ to its own foliage.

The same clone displaying a different color ovary, pale yellow from the onset, whereas the above plant was bright green, much larger, and took months to ripen.

The backsides of the flowers are just as beautiful as the fronts.


A note on this species after keeping for about two years- it seems prone to nutritional deficiencies and benefits from regular repotting.   I have recently added crushed lime to my potting mix and hope this will take care of the deficiency, which manifests itself in a subtle but persistent yellowing of the leaf edges.