Begonia masoniana

Common Name: iron cross begonia 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Begoniaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Black Walnut


Tender perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 11-12. It is frequently grown as a houseplant. It may be taken outside in warm summers, but will not survive temperatures below 55 degrees F. Indoors, it is best placed in bright but indirect or filtered light (southern, eastern or western window). Best with peaty potting mix. Keep soils evenly moist during periods of growth, but slightly reduce water applications (allow surface of soil to nearly dry before adding water) when active growth slows down. Do not over water. Keep foliage dry to help prevent onset of powdery mildew. Plants thrive in temperatures in the low 70s. Plants like high humidity which can be increased by placing the pot on wet gravel tray. Best propagation is by stem cuttings (difficult from seed).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Begonia masoniana, commonly called iron cross begonia, is a rhizomatous begonia that grows to 18" tall. It is noted for its showy foliage. Puckered, pebbly-textured bright green leaves (to 8" long) have decorative dark chocolate brown center markings which resemble the Iron Cross displayed on shields during the Crusades. Cymes of greenish-white flowers (each to 3/4") are produced in spring and summer on stems rising above the leaves. This begonia is native to China or India.

Genus name honors Michael Begon (1638-1710), Governor of French Canada.

Specific epithet honors L. Maurice Mason, English plant collector, who brought this plant from Singapore back to England in 1952 and gave it the common name of iron cross.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to bacterial leaf spot, powdery mildew, blight and stem/crown rot. Watch for aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. Plants taken outdoors in summer are susceptible to slugs and snails if pots are placed on the ground.


Houseplant in all but USDA Zones 11-12.