Now what do we have here? Is it some sort of exotic reptile skin? It looks as though it comes from somewhere over a million miles away. Some distant isle or some distant planet perhaps? Here we have the phenomenal foliage of Begonia masoniana 'Iron Cross'. I get conflicting reports about its origin. Some say China. Others India. I hear it really comes from New Guinea. From where ever it comes, I say thank you for sharing it with the rest of the plant world! Begonia masoniana 'Iron Cross' is probably one of the hottest houseplants around. It screams subtropical sexiness. It has these cool asymmetrical, heart-shaped, wing-tipped leaves that are outfitted with a provocatively puckered texture. This texture is both fuzzy and softly pointed. If you were to look at one of these leaves in flat profile you'd probably think you were looking at some mysterious map of the otherworldly topography of some distant planet. Ground control to Major Tom anyone?
On each leaf a deep, dark cross-like pattern emblazons itself on a canvas of rich green. The overall look of Begonia masoniana 'Iron Cross' is lusciously luxurious. The leaves can grow up to 8 inches long on fuzzy wine colored petioles. Horticultural hotness! This begonia likes to grow in a draining, slightly acidic soil mix. Something with peat moss, pumice, and agricultural lime (pulverized limestone or chalk). You could also try a peat moss alternative like coconut coir. It likes its soil to be kept moist but not soggy during its active growth. When growth slows, allow the soil mix to dry a bit before watering. Oh, and avoid getting water on the foliage. Water can bring yucky powdery mildew and cause rot. Give it bright, indirect light, warm indoor temps, and watch it unfurl leaf after leaf of phenomenal foliage.