Taking care of plants has become a form of self-care for some people. Spending time watering or pruning their plants can be a great stress reliever for plant lovers. So the relationship between plant owners and plants is a mutually beneficial one.
Pellionia repens, also known as the trailing watermelon begonia or wavy watermelon begonia, are a beautiful begonia-like plant that looks like a skinny watermelon rind (but sadly without the juicy watermelon hiding beneath its leaves). This plant can be a houseplant, but Pellionia enthusiasts have found it a better terrarium plant.
This article will go over the care instructions for the Pellionia repens. We will also compare another member of the Pellionia family and cover whether it is toxic to cats or not and what it means when you see smoke coming from this plant.
Caring for Your Pellionia Repens
As we mentioned above, this vine plant is an excellent choice for a houseplant and terrarium plant. So let us dive into how to care for the Pellionia repens!
The Pellionia repens love bright, indirect sunlight. If you have a South facing window covered with a sheer curtain, you have the perfect spot for your Pellionia repens. But if you lack South facing windows, that is perfectly fine; any window that provides enough light will do fine.
On the off chance you lack windows that get good light, you can always use a grow light for your Pellionia repens. An average 6500K LED light is an acceptable replacement as well.
However, if you notice your plant growing new spaced leaves and not overlapping, more sunlight is needed. Also, more light is required if the new leaves stay on the smaller side and do not seem to want to grow.
Just make sure to keep your Pellionia repens out of direct sunlight to prevent them from getting burnt. They have yet to invent sunblock for plants, so please keep them protected!
Since this is a tropical plant that does well in a terrarium, it loves high humidity. High humidity is easily achievable in an enclosed space like a sealed terrarium. If your Pellionia repens resides in a terrarium, you do not have to do much to keep the humidity up!
However, if your Pellionia repens are roaming-free in your house, you have a bit more work to keep the humidity up. A humidifier is your best option for keeping your non-terrarium residing Pellionia repens thriving. We recommend keeping your Pellionia repens in the bathroom where it can receive constant humidity and warmth.
Like the humidity, the temperature also needs to be warm for your Trailing Watermelon Begonia to be happy. If your home is 60 degrees, you have the perfect temperature for growing a healthy Pellionia repens.
However, be careful of the temperature getting too low. This tropical vine is not a fan of the cold. So if the temperature starts to drop below 50 degrees, find a warmer place for your Trailing Watermelon Begonia.
So in the colder months, consider keeping this plant in the warmest room of your home or transferring it over into a terrarium where it will stay nice and warm even when the world outside is freezing!
When it comes to this plant, moisture is your best friend. Keeping this plant on the moist side is what will keep them alive. Let this plant dry out, and you will have a dead plant on your hands!
However, do not confuse keeping this plant moist with overwatering it. Lack of moisture will kill your plant, but it will happen if you waterlog it. Overwatered roots can lead to root rot, and if you know anything about root rot, you know how hard it is to bring a plant back from it.
Keeping your plant safe from waterlogging is why this plant is better for terrariums- because terrariums allow for humidity and moisture to last longer because of the enclosed space.
Unlike other plants, the Pellionia repens do not have a soil preference. They do well in most tropical mixes. So if you are going through the store and see a soil mixture that is for tropical plants, then you have an excellent choice before you.
However, if you want to make a unique mixture, then your mixture should be something that has plenty of water retention and also plenty of drainage. The water retention will allow your plant to retain moisture longer, and the drainage will ensure your plant does not become waterlogged.
Some Trailing Watermelon Begonia enthusiasts make a mixture that has a coco coir base with either orchid bark or perlite as a supplementary addition. Some even add in earthworm castings for slow-release organic nutrients.
So when it comes to soil, the vital factors are water retention and proper water drainage. If you want to get creative and make a unique soil blend, give it a try!
When it comes to fertilizing the Trailing Watermelon Begonia, there are mixed opinions on whether it needs fertilizer or not.
Some plant owners skip the use of fertilizer for this plant altogether because if the conditions are right, this plant grows quickly on its own and remains healthy. Also, having the right soil mixture with the proper nutrients helps keep it well fed and growing strong.
Other plant owners opt for a weekly dose of a well-rounded fertilizer during its growth periods. Others fertilize the Pellionia repens every two weeks with diluted liquid fertilizer.
So there does not seem to be a clear opinion on whether or not you need to fertilize this plant. So if you think your plant needs an extra boost, then fertilize it. If you think it is doing well as is, then do not fertilize it. The choice is yours!
Propagating Your Pellionia Repens
Propagating your Pellionia repens is incredibly easy to do, so even if you are not a plant expert or have much experience with propagating plants, you will be able to reproduce this plant!
When this plant is at its happiest and healthiest, it will grow faster than usual. So this is an excellent time to propagate them for different rooms of your home or give them as a gift to a fellow plant lover in your life.
To propagate your Pellionia repens, pinch or cut off a stem piece before setting it in some substrate of sphagnum moss. Keep the substrate or sphagnum moss moist and in high humidity. You should notice new growth quickly. This propagation process is also the same process you would follow if you cut a piece that already has roots.
Is The Pellionia Repens Toxic to Cats?
Several sources, including the ASPCA, have stated that the Pellionia repens are non-toxic to cats.
So if you catch your furry friend nibbling on your Pellionia repens, no need to worry; they will be fine. However, the scolding they will get from munching on your plant friend is a whole other story!
Pellionia Repens Flower Smoking
The Pellionia repens has small white globule flowers that grow on it. The flowers are considered unremarkable and easy to forget/overlook. However, these plants do have an exciting feature to them.
These white globule flowers respond to changes in temperature by releasing their pollen. When they release their pollen, it looks like small puffs of smoke. These puffs of smoke give the illusion that the plant is “smoking.”
So if you notice your Trailing Watermelon Begonia smoking, do not panic! It is a natural occurrence and nothing to dwell on.
Pellionia Pulchra Vs. Repens
The Pellionia Pulchra and the Pellion Repens are beautiful plants, each with its own distinct features.
As mentioned above, the Pellionia repens, also known as The Trailing Watermelon Begonia, has a leaf pattern that looks like a watermelon rind. It has small white globule flowers that let out puffs of smoke when the temperature changes. The greens on its leaves are very bright and vivid.
The Pellionia Pulchra, also known as the Polynesian Ivy, has a beautiful marbling detail on its leaves. The color of this plant is flatter than that of the Pellionia repens, but it has a satiny texture to its leaves, giving the plant a nice feeling. This plant is also non-toxic to cats.
Both plants are great for terrariums but can also make excellent houseplants if you keep the conditions correct. So when it comes down to it, when choosing between the Pellionia Pulchra and the Pellionia repens, your choice will be based on which look you prefer. Or, if you have the space and budget, purchase both!
We learned how to take care of the Pellionia repens and compared it to the Pellionia Pulchra. We now know that this plant is non-toxic to cats and not to panic if we see Pellionia repens smoking. We also learned that they are an excellent plant for terrariums, so if you ever want to make a terrarium, here is a plant recommendation for such a project.
Where to Buy the Pellionia Repens
The Pellionia Repens is available for sale from a few sellers on Etsy.