Dischidia Pectinoides is a compact epiphytic vine from the Apocynaceae family. It is an evergreen, perennial plant that is also known as Ant Plant as ants colonize its large-hollow leaves in its natural habitat. This plant is grown as a houseplant for its unique foliage and remarkable appearance. You can grow it indoors in small pots or hanging baskets. This plant also blooms in summers, but the flowers are not as showy as its lovely foliage.
Let’s learn more about its amazing features and some care tips.
- Kangaroo Pocket
- Ant Plant
- Thruppence Ravioli Plant
- Family: Apocynaceae
- Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
- Genus: Dischidia
About the Genus Dischidia
Dischidia is a genus of angiosperms, which is native to China, India, and Indo-China. These species are mostly epiphytic plants with aerial roots.
Origin and distribution
This plant is native to the rainforests of the Philipines. It is also found in some tropical regions of China and Southeast Asia.
Dischidia Pectinoides Features
Foliage and Stem
This stunning plant has large, green-colored leaves. These leaves have a hollow interior where ants live. These leaves resemble balloons when they mature as they are hollow from inside and spheres from outside.
This unique plant has extra unique blooms. It produces red-colored flowers in summers or the growing season. Although, the plant does not bloom indoors.
It is an evergreen plant whose leaves stay green and fresh throughout the year. It does not shed all of its foliage in autumn.
This epiphytic vine can reach a maximum height of 3 meters. Its height increases outdoors. But never grow it out in your home garden unless you have prepared a proper shelter for it from the direct sun.
This thick-leaved plant can grow quite well in warm temperatures. Temperature extremes are a big No-No. If the temperature fluctuates too much inside your home, Dischidia pectinoides may not survive there at all.
High humidity is always appreciated for this plant. However, it does not do well in low levels of humidity. It starts to lose its leaves’ freshness and color as the moisture level keeps on dropping. This is why you should regulate and increase humidity around this plant.
The fleshy leaves of this plant can store and retain water for droughts. This is why this plant is a fairly drought-resistant plant that can survive small-duration droughts and days of low water availability.
Disease and Pest Resistance
This plant is susceptible to bacterial or fungal diseases. You should use fungicides for these diseases. Also, if the plant gets affected, remove the affected parts ASAP.
Spider mites, aphids, or armored scales are attracted to this plant. You can get rid of these by using neem oil or bacterial soap.
It is a slow-growing epiphyte that takes time to reach its mature height. It is a lovely vine that grows over support. So if you place a pole or totem in its pot, its growth rate will increase.
The USDA plant hardiness growth zones recommended for this plant are 10 to 11.
It is a toxic plant that can trigger harmful conditions in humans and pets. If its foliage is ingested in large amounts, it can cause vomiting, nausea, and other serious problems. This is why you should handle this plant with care and keep your pets and toddlers away from it.
Dischidia pectinoides is a low-maintenance tropical epiphyte. It grows on its own. You do not have to worry about its care needs as this plant does not fuss about much. This is why it is loved by home gardeners.
Dry days, shorter nights, the colder temperature is a signal for this plant to enter its dormancy. This lovely species becomes dormant in winters. Its growth rate slows down, and no new leaves grow during these days. It is as if this plant is sleeping and resting.
Dischidia Pectinoides Care
Dischidia pectinoides care involves regular watering. It should be watered thrice every week. The ideal humidity level is 50-70%. The temperature must be kept around 20°C-28°C. It must be grown in a non-soil-based potting mix as it is an epiphytic plant. The potting medium must be acidic (pH 5-6).
It should be watered every two to three weeks in the growing season. The watering requirements depend a lot on the weather and temperature. In hot summers, high temperature dries the soil quickly, so it needs more watering. On the other hand, in winters, the soil stays damp for more days, so it needs less watering.
Let the plant get dry between waterings. You can check if the plant needs any watering by sticking your finger in the soil. If it comes out dry, water your plant. If it feels damp, let it get dry for some more days.
Dischidia pectinoides should be grown in an acidic medium (pH 5.0 to 6.0). You can regulate the acidic pH of the potting mix by mixing some peat moss in it. This plant grows best in a well-draining, organic-rich potting mix. The regular houseplant potting mix can be used for its pot.
As this plant is epiphytic, it has aerial roots. It needs a well-aerated potting mix for healthy growth. If you want, you can prepare a fast-draining potting mix on your own. You should use shredded bark or coconut husk to increase its aeration. Do not use potting soil for the plant.
This tropical plant needs bright filtered light to thrive. This plant can grow in a wide range of light conditions. It can survive in low light and can also tolerate some hours of direct sunlight. This plant’s ability to survive in many light conditions makes it easy to be placed in a house. You can grow it indoors as well as outdoors. It can also be grown in office space where the plant does not get too much light exposure.
However, we recommend you place it in a spot where it receives bright but indirect sunlight. You should place it near an east or north-facing window, where it will receive the morning sun rays, and also be safe from the hot afternoon sun.
Dischidia pectinoides grows best in warm temperatures. It would be best if you keep it in a spot where the temperature stays between 20°C and 28°C. Your best shot at keeping this plant healthy is by keeping it indoors. This is because, inside a home, the temperature does not fluctuate much; it stays in an average temperature range. If you want to grow this plant in your home garden, you should cover it with a shade cloth to protect it from the heat in summers and extreme cold in winters.
Dischidia pectinoides is a tropical plant that is native to the rainforests. It grows under the thick tree canopy where hundreds of other plants surround it. The humidity there is quite high. This is why it needs a similar environment when grown as a houseplant too. This plant needs 70-90% humidity for healthy growth.
The best way to increase the moisture level for this plant is to grow it above a pebble tray filled with water. You can also try grouping it with other houseplants.
This plant is not much of a feeder. It does not need to be fertilized every now and then. However, if you want to increase its growth rate and encourage more budding, you can add a balanced fertilizer to its soil in the growing season. You should use a liquid fertilizer for the plant. Add the fertilizer every 3 weeks from March to September. Do not fertilize it in winters.
You should always dilute the fertilizer to half its strength before adding it to the soil. Also, water the plant before feeding it with fertilizer. This will protect the roots from getting burnt.
Grooming and Pruning
No need to prune the plant often. Dischidia pectinoides can grow without any trimming. However, you should remove the dead and yellow leaves now and encourage more buds’ growth. You can also trim the tips of some branches to encourage more growth.
The gardening shears must always be disinfected before being used. Use a proper disinfectant for the sterilization process. You can use 70% isopropyl alcohol or ethanol to disinfect the shears.
Dischidia pectinoides does not like to be moved often. You should not re-pot it every year. Wait for the roots to take all the space and potting mix in the pot and then re-pot it. One major sign indicating the need for repotting is to look for any peeking roots from the drainage hole.
Every time you re-pot this plant, use a pot that is 1 size bigger than the old one. The best time for repotting is at the beginning of the growing season.
Propagation of Dischidia pectinoides is done through stem cutting and seeds. The seeds of this plant grow in pods and are exposed when the pod bursts upon maturing. You can simply place the seeds in sphagnum moss and watch the plant grow from scratch.
- The stem cutting method is also easy.
- You should take a disinfected knife and cut a stem up to 7 inches long.
- The stem must have some nodes.
- Place the cutting in sphagnum moss and water it.
- You can use strings to keep the cutting in place.
- Keep the cutting in a well-lit spot until new roots grow.
- Once you notice new growth, move the cutting to a proper pot with a proper potting mix.
Dischidia Pectinoides is an evergreen vine that has thick, fleshy leaves. It is a low-maintenance plant that needs bright filtered light to grow indoors. Its 3 feet height and unique foliage make it a great ornamental plant. You can grow it in beautiful hanging baskets or small pots as tabletops in your home. This plant can also be grown in office spaces where the light isn’t too bright. Even a home garden or a greenhouse can also be adorned by this charismatic species.