I have this plant that used to belong to my grandmother and it has suddenly started dropping it's leaves for unknown reasons. It seems like it is slowly dying in my possession which is very distressing as I feel very sentimental towards it. I have tried to identify it in the past with no luck.
I have attached a photo of the plant (in better health last year) in the hope that someone will know what species it is as I am hoping this will help me research the best growing conditions for it...and hopefully save it! It has very few leaves left now though so is not looking good! Any help would be highly appreciated.
It is a Begonia; one of the somewhat-climbing ones.
Have a read here - http://www.begonias.org/Articles/Vol60/Trailing-ScandentBegonias.htm.
Note that some Begonia have tubers and are dormant in winter. That means the towards the end of the season, they will lose their stems and leaves. In considering the health of your plant, bear that in mind. If yours is tuberous, see here - http://www.bradsbegoniaworld.com/tuber.htm
If your turns out not to be a tuberous type, but you can't determine the exact species, consider the general cultural preferences: good light but not direct sunlight, well-drained soil (which can be on the dry or damp side depending on species and degree of vigour), out of cold draughts, not overpotted.
It is all to easy to grow a begonia well in a shaded part of a conservatory in summer, then find it going sickly as winter comes on. That would probably be because the conservatory is now getting too cold at night (and if you open the door in the daytime the cold draught could shock the warm plant), the soil has been overwatered and hence is turning sour, and maybe even vine weevil larvae doing their damage to the roots/tubers.
If yours has been overwatered, whether tuberous or not, I would poke holes into the soil with a knitting needle or pencil. That will allow the compost to dry out somewhat and allow the air in - both without disturbing the roots too much.
Thank you very much for your super quick and extremely helpful reply. Amazing, it is definitely a Begonia as you say, I am very grateful for your help!
About a week ago I changed the soil in a last ditch attempt to save the plant in case poor soil was the culprit or it was pot bound (I'm not sure whether this is advisable or not however). When the soil fell away from the base of the plant I was surprised to find a tuber (or what looked like one) forming under the surface so hopefully this could mean that all is not lost? I have since moved the plant from it's original position at the kitchen window in case the fluctuations in temperature may be doing it harm (heat from the oven followed by a cold winter breeze coming in the open window)?
Thank you for your help again!
We'll call that progress, then.
You will by now have figured out that you need to let the plant retreat back to its tuber and have a snooze over winter. During that time, it won't need much water - just enough to maintain a slight background level of humidity. And, yes - stop the thermal torture you have been subjecting it to!
Much more of that and it would be-a-gonna rather than a be-gonia!
Once the shoots have separated from the tuber, give it a week (no water), then shake the soil and tuber out of the pot, and tease the soil from the roots (which will be less important at that stage). Why? - To look for vine weevils and/or their holes/gnawings. Fingers crossed, you won't find any. In that case, you can put the tuber back into the soil, all somewhat loosish in the pot. That'll help keep it aerated and protect it from quick temperature changes. I'm sure you can do some more reading-up on tending it until spring.