The Watermelon dischidia, also known by its scientific name of Dischidia ovata, is a charming vining plant with the most adorable egg-shaped leaves. With faint, light creamy green venation overlayed on the dark green leaves, this plant resembles a mini watermelon, giving this plant its common name!
Because of its growing habits, the Watermelon dischidia is a low maintenance plant that requires minimal hands-on care. This Dischidia ovata care guide will touch on all the important needs so you can grow a beautiful specimen and enjoy it for years!
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If you’re looking to add some pretty greenery to your living space, you can’t go wrong with the Dischidia ovata. This plant is named for the “ovate,” or egg-shaped, leaves, which are usually dark green with white or light green striations. Due to its unique markings, it’s commonly known as the Watermelon Dischidia.
In the United States, the Dischidia ovata is optimized for outdoor life in USDA zone 11, which encompasses coastal regions such as southern California, Florida, and Hawaii. For people who live outside of these areas, it’s recommended to keep this plant in the home, a greenhouse, or a terrarium.
- Common Name: Watermelon dischidia
- Scientific Name: Dischidia ovata
- Mature Size: 2-3 inches high with cascading 3+ foot long vines
- Sunlight: bright, indirect light
- Water: when top 3 inches of soil are dry
- Soil: loose, aerated, well-draining
- Temperature: 55°F-90°F
- Propagation: stem cuttings
- Hardiness Zone: 11
- Toxicity: non-toxic to humans and pets
Growth Pattern and Habits
Dischidia ovata is a great example of an epiphyte. An epiphyte is a large group of plants from a wide range of species that grow on other plants. Rather than taking root in soil, epiphytes will establish themselves on supportive surfaces like tree bark, volcanic rocks, or even other epiphytes.
Epiphytes spread by climbing with their trailing vines that produce their own roots, allowing them to seek out the ideal places to grow. Once established, these plants will absorb water and nutrients from the air using a specialized network of aerial roots.
Thanks to this unique method of survival, the Dischidia ovata is surprisingly low maintenance when raised as a houseplant. While the Dischidia ovata is an epiphyte, it can also grow in well draining, loose soil. It needs minimal watering, sunlight, pruning, and attention. In fact, the wilder it grows, the better it looks!
To show off its best feature, I suggest planting the Dischidia ovata in a hanging basket where it can drape over the edges. Because the vines cascading over the edge can grow over three feet long, you can enjoy full dramatic effect when placed on higher surfaces around your house.
Native to New Guinea and some tropical regions of Australia, the Dischidia ovata is used to life in the rainforest canopy with plentiful, dappled sunlight. As a houseplant, it does best when it’s placed near a bright window, in bright indirect light.
In the Northern Hemisphere you can meet the Dischidia ovata’s light requirements by placing it in a south or east-facing window. Whatever window you choose, however, be sure to set it at least three feet away from the glass to shield the plant from direct sunlight and cold drafts in the winter. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, remember to instead use a north or west-facing window.
Too much direct sunlight will initially result in pale leaves that eventually turn brown and become dry to the touch. If you see this symptom, consider moving the plant or providing a filter, such as a thin curtain. On the other hand, too little sunlight will cause the plant to grow slowly and become leggy. Yellow leaves that fall off easily are another sign of insufficient lighting.
Many epiphytes, including the Watermelon Dischidia, are able to meet their water needs by absorbing it directly from the air. Because of this, they don’t need to be watered as often as other common houseplants, making Dischidia ovata care quite minimal.
To make sure you’re not overwatering your plant, wait until the top three inches of soil has dried out completely before adding more water. You can easily test the soil with your own finger, or you can use an inexpensive soil hydrometer for more exact measurements.
I suggest watering your Dischidia ovata in a sink or a large basin where the excess water can drain from the soil after drenching the soil completely. This will mimic a Dischidia ovata’s natural environment (think heavy rainforest rains) without letting too much water accumulate around the roots.
In the wild, the Dischidia ovata is used to living on a variety of surfaces, so it can easily adapt to most potting mixes you choose. However, it has skinny, shallow roots that are prone to rotting. To make sure your Dischidia Watermelon is as healthy as possible, provide a substrate that promotes air circulation to the roots. A loose, well-draining soil, like a cactus or succulent mix, is ideal. Alternatively, you can bypass soil entirely and grow this plant in a pot of cork, moss, or bark.
Along with a well-draining substrate, ensure the pot has drainage holes and is the appropriate size. A pot that’s too large will ultimately absorb more water, increasing the chances of root rot. When changing pots, look for one that’s 1-2 inches wider and deeper than the roots of the plant. With the average rate of growth, you can expect to change pots every 2-3 years.
Temperature and Humidity
The Dischidia ovata prefers mild, stable temperatures that closely mimic its native environment. Ideally, the plant does best in the range of 55-90°F, which makes it well-suited to indoor life. If you’re raising this plant outdoors, be prepared to bring it inside when the weather becomes too hot or cold.
Along with mild temperatures, the rainforest has an average relative humidity of 77-88%. Fortunately, this plant does well in average household humidity, though it will grow slower and smaller than its cousins in the wild. For optimum growth, try to keep ambient humidity above 40%. For a humidity boost, mist the plant every other day or place the pot near a pebble tray or humidifier.
Growing your Dischidia ovata in a terrarium with other similar plants is also a great idea to meet humidity requirements.
In theory, the Dischidia ovata doesn’t require any fertilizer to survive. However, feeding your plant provides complete nutrition to fuel optimal growth. If you want to raise an impressive-looking plant with lush foliage and vivid colors, fertilize once a month during the spring and summer when the plant experiences its active growth phase. To avoid burning the roots, use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to quarter-strength, or about 30%.
Just like when it comes to its care, Dischidia ovata propagation is easy too! The Dischidia ovata is relatively easy to propagate through its cuttings and from the attached vines themselves. As the plant grows, it eventually produces roots at intervals, called nodes, along the length of the vine.
You can identify the roots as small, node-like growths found at the base of a leaf. By taking advantage of the plant’s natural creeping nature, you can snip off any vines with aerial roots, plant them, and grow another Dischidia ovata.
To propagate a Dischidia ovata from stem cuttings, follow these steps:
- With a pair of sterilized scissors, trim three to six inches from healthy vines, making sure each cutting has at least one healthy set of leaves. This ensures that you have included a growth node.
- Plant each vine cut side down in a container of damp soil. Mist the cuttings and soil every day to keep the soil moist. Alternatively, place the cutting in a jar of water, changing the water once a week.
- Loosely cover the cuttings with a plastic bag and place them in a warm, shaded spot. After three to four weeks, the cuttings will take root and grow independently. At this time, you can transfer them to their permanent container.
Another way to tackle Dischidia ovata propagation is to do so by twisting attached vines back along the soil surface. Because each node can grow roots, you can easily make your current plant fuller doing this!
- Using the original pot, gently coil one or two vines back into the pot so there is complete contact with the soil. You can use safety pins or bobby pins if needed to gently secure the vine to ensure contact with the soil.
- Water the Dischidia ovata as you normally would but gently mist once a week to keep the top layer of soil a bit more moist to encourage root growth.
- Allow three to four weeks, you will notice tiny, fragile roots sprouting. Given more time, new vines will begin to grow from each node! At this time, stop the additional misting and follow normal Dischidia ovata water requirements.
If you see yellow leaves on your Dischidia ovata, you are most likely overwatering your plant. This plant has the ability to absorb moisture from the air and the soil, so it can be overwhelmed if it’s watered too often. To treat yellow leaves, stop watering until the soil dries out completely.
If overwatering isn’t the culprit, then your Dischidia Watermelon’s yellow leaves may be due to inadequate sunlight. To isolate the cause and prevent future issues, change one thing at a time.
If you don’t treat overwatering quickly enough, your Dischidia ovata will develop root rot. This disease is characterized by soggy soil accompanied by blackened, rotten roots. Above the soil, the vines will start turning brown and drop their leaves.
This condition can be treated by carefully removing the plant from the soil, pruning off rotten portions of the root ball, and repotting in a fresh batch of well-draining soil.
Red or Brown Leaves
When a Dischidia ovata is exposed to direct sunlight for too many hours each day, the leaves will turn red or brown. While it needs some light to grow, it’s best to stick to bright, but indirect, lighting conditions. If your plant begins to exhibit this symptom, try moving it to a different area, placing it further back from the window, or putting up a filter.
Soil that’s constantly soggy will encourage fungal growth. Eventually, the fungus can spread to nearby plant roots, which will then infect the entire plant. You can identify fungal infection in its early stages by looking for white powdery mildew in the soil.
Fungal infections can be treated with commercial gardening fungicide. To prevent its occurrence, make sure to use a well-draining soil and follow the correct watering schedule. Keeping your Watermelon Dischidia healthy will also make it more likely to resist fungal infections.
The Dischidia ovata is a relatively hardy plant, but it’s still vulnerable to the common pests that plague any other houseplant, like mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. If your plant looks unwell and pests are to blame, you can often see the evidence on your plant with your naked eye. Blackish residue, waxy webbing, and discarded wings are some signs to look out for.
Infestations can be treated by removing any visible insects by hand and cleansing the plant’s surfaces with alcohol or insecticidal soap. It’s also important to quarantine infested plants from your other houseplants. Once the infestation clears, you can repel any future pests by applying a solution of organic neem oil once a month.
The Dischidia ovata is non-toxic to humans and pets. However, the sticky sap can irritate sensitive skin and cause a temporary rash. For this reason, it’s recommended to wear protective gloves when handling this plant.
This post detailed all the necessary information in order to provide great Dischidia ovata care. Enjoy your Dischidia ovata plant inside (or outside if you are lucky enough to live in the correct climate) all year round!
It’s known for its oval shaped leaves and trailing growth pattern. The leaves are unique as they display a creaming green veining pattern. I’ve touched on a Dischidia ovata’s light needs, water requirements, where to grow in your home and the best soil! You also learned about Dischidia ovata propagation and how to grow yourself a handful of new plants easily!