Friday, November 12, 2010

Random plant event: Dischidia ruscifolia flowering

I bought a Dischidia ruscifolia last February, because it was there and I had money and I thought what the hell, maybe it's cooler than it looks.

The pot is 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter.

And it's settled in well. Some leaf-dropping initially, but it hasn't done that in a long time, and for most of the last eight months it's just kinda sat there. It has a similar style to Hoyas -- do nothing for a long time, then produce a new long shoot almost overnight, then do nothing again. (Hoya and Dischidia are closely related, so that's not a huge surprise.)

Anyway. So I went into the husband's office, where the Dischidia lives, earlier this week to ask him something, and glanced down and saw flowers! Not big or interesting flowers -- in fact you can barely even see them at all -- and I couldn't detect a scent, either. But still.

There are rumors of a yellow-flowering Dischidia, but as far as I've seen, rumors are all they are. Wouldn't really matter, though, would it?

In very bright light, the leaves will turn red; my own plant hasn't done that because it only gets filtered sun from an east window, but I've seen a plant at work get a little bit red, when we had it hanging close to the ceiling. That was a lot of sun, though.

D. ruscifolia is still in no danger of becoming the kind of plant I recommend to everybody, but it hasn't given me any trouble, it says please and thank-you, it washes its hands before dinner without being told, and all that good stuff. Plus now it's flowered for me too. So I can't really complain. I think the final big test will be to see how well it propagates. If it's easy to propagate, too, then I'll have to be at least a little bit fond of it, on principle.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Sub, congrats on your new fame!!! Well deserved accolades in the NYT. :-)

Pat said...

Nice. But not as cool as the Dischidias which have hollow puffed-up leaves for ants to make their homes in. They then grow roots up and through the entrance hole into the leaf to absorb nutrients from the ant frass.

shiver said...

Congrats on being famous....I loved the pic of you at home with all your plants so tidy on your plant shelves. :)

Onto dischidia....I'm glad you posted on this plant. I got a "D. pebble beach" at Home Depot 6 years ago and it has been the best, most trouble free plant I've ever grown. It blooms every summer, it's never had bugs (and I've had every kind of bug you can imagine on other plants), it doesn't care how careful you are with watering, the root system stays compact so I've only potted-up once, and it grows like a maniac (every summer I cut a foot of growth off). It's just so tough....I often wonder why we don't see more dischidias out there. Seems like they should be more popular....or maybe I just got lucky with my exceptionally robust plant.

Liza said...

Your comment on my site made me laugh out loud. You are a very funny man, mr_s. Thanks for being a good sport about losing the puzzler last week!

mr_subjunctive said...


Thanks for saying.


Well, no, but how many of those get grown indoors? (Could you even grow it indoors without the ants?) We have to try to be happy with the Dischidias we have, not the Dischidias we want.


I've seen 'Pebble Beach' (D. nummularia? nummularifolia? Can't remember. . . .) before; we had one at work when I first started there. The one at work was extremely slow-growing, though, so I'm surprised yours was fast. Maybe you did get an exceptional specimen, or maybe it didn't like the greenhouse conditions. That did happen sometimes: there was a small minority of plants that did much better for me at home than they did in the greenhouse, usually because the heat or light were too extreme for them in the greenhouse.

Pat said...

Should be able to grow them without the ants. You can get them much more easily than I can as this Hawai'ian store has them, for example D. major.

I haven't looked at the prices and you might want to imagine you are just looking at photos, not a plant catalogue. says they are mostly easy plants, and they should know:

Thomas said...

At Lowe's I bought a hanging basket plant labeled Dischidia 'White Diamonds', from Exotic Angel. There seems to be some debate about the species name, but it's been in trade for awhile. It roots fairly easy just laying cuttings on the surface of the rooting medium; I used a clear clamshell container in which strawberries are sold.

The local conservatory has a Dischidia inhabited by ants. The ants are really tiny, and they move really fast. Since they can't be imported, they must be a native species. How did they know?

Erica said...

Hello, I have had my Dischidia R. for more than 1 year. I thought that it had died as most of the leaves dropped and the vines dried up. THEN, the other day I noticed roots coming from the nodes, AND new growth!!!!!!!!!!! Please tell me anything you can regarding propagation.

Thanks you,

mr_subjunctive said...


As I hinted at in the original post, I haven't actually tried to propagate D. ruscifolia. GlasshouseWorks says they're easily rooted in a "perfectly drained epiphytic mix," which I would take to mean something like a coarse sphagnum / perlite / potting soil mix. Though if it's that easy to do, maybe a regular pre-bagged potting soil would work just as well.

Unknown said...

Hi there! This question is for Shiver (sorry I don't know how to contact you directly).
How did you take care of your Pebble Beach plant? I just purchased a gorgeous, big one today. I have never seen on before and am a little worried now that I might kill it. Most of my research makes it sound like it's hard to take care of. Any advice is appreciated! THANKS!