Common Name: Polynesian Ivy, Rainbow Vine, Watermelon Vine
Botanical Name: Pellionia pulchra
The lovely and not-so-widely known trailing Watermelon Vine features oval-shaped variegated leaves with dark-colored stems that offer an unexpected burst of color. Place this plant in a hanging basket or up on a high shelf to really enjoy the cascading vines. This beauty is sometimes referred to as a Watermelon Begonia, and while it requires care like a begonia, it is not actually a begonia. The Polynesian Ivy can be a bit fussy about the care it needs, but once its needs are met, you'll be rewarded with a happy, healthy, and lush plant.
Plenty of bright indirect light will allow the Watermelon Vine to push out new growth continually and thrive. The Polynesian Ivy is adaptable and can handle lower light levels, but bright light is key for maximum growth. In its native environment of South-East Asia, the Rainbow vine grows as an understory plant where it receives light filtered through the tree canopy. If you bring your plant onto a porch or patio during the warmer months, make sure to avoid direct sunlight and find a shady spot like what it would experience in nature. Learn where to put your plants for the best light!
Keep the soil moist for the Watermelon Vine. The soil should partially dry out between watering, but do not let the soil completely dry out. It's best to water when the top inch or so of soil is dry. When you do water, completely saturate the soil until water runs through the drainage holes in the pot. Remove any excess water from the cache pot. As much as the pellionia loves water, it does not like to sit in standing water. Learn when and how to water your indoor plants!
Watermelon Vines love good drainage and a soil mixture containing coco coir or peat moss, for water retention, and pumice, perlite, or wood chips to provide the drainage they need! Most bagged, sterile potting soils will be adequate for transplanting your pellionia. Consider mixing in cactus potting soil to help with drainageif the soil is too dense as they need soil that drains well. If you decide to transplant your Watermelon Vine (we do not recommend transplanting your new plants for at least 3-6 months after receiving them), make sure you do not damage the roots as they are fragile and this can lead to leaf drop and the possible demise of your plant!
The Pellionia pulchra is better suited to warm temperatures. This spreading houseplant can handle anything that would be considered comfortable room temperature, but it really likes to stay between 70-80°F. Cold air and temperature fluctuations are a problem, as this houseplant likes to stay warm consistently. The ideal placement for the pellionia will be away from exterior doors and windows that may be prone to cold drafts and even away from heating and cooling vents.
High humidity is a must for the Pellionia pulchra. This tropical plant loves lots of moisture and will appreciate placement in an area with dampness in the air. When grown in dry conditions, you'll need to recreate a damp environment by using a humidifier or a pebble tray with water. Learn how to increase the humidity in the air around your indoor plants!
Feed your Watermelon Vines with a ¼-diluted complete liquid fertilizer twice a month during the growing season. You can add organic compost, worm castings, or slow-release fertilizer in the spring as well! Keep in mind that most houseplants are sensitive to being over-fertilized, so always dilute any concentrated fertilizer before you apply it! You can fertilize with liquid fertilizer even if you have amended the soil with organic compost. If you applied a time-release chemical fertilizer, we recommend that wait a few months before adding any additional liquid fertilizer. Do not feed during the winter or in the colder months.
The Watermelon Vine grows up to 18 “to 24” in length. It is considered a slow-medium grower, living its best life when getting ample amounts of bright indirect light and toasty warm temperatures!
Pet Friend or Foe
Watermelon Vine is toxic to pets. Foe!
- Houseplants that crave high humidity sometimes do better when grouped with other plants. If you live in a dry climate or notice the leaves starting to dry out and turn brown along the edges, try placing your pellonia near other plants. Placing plants near one another can boost the collective humidity and benefit all the plants.
- Prune the plant to maintain the desired shape and look and promote new growth. Hold on to those cuttings to propagate and create new plants that can be grown as separate plants or potted with the mother plant to create a full, lush look.
- With proper care, Watermelon Vines will bloom, but the flowers are rather lackluster when compared to the foliage. Removing the flower buds will enable the plant to redirect energy into new growth.
- Pellionia, like many other trailing plants, is easily propagated by cuttings taken from the leaf tips. Spring is the finest time to collect cuttings. For maximum results, use a rooting hormone and keep the cuttings in a hot and humid place. Make sure the cuttings are not exposed to direct sunshine.