the rex begonia vine, cissus discolor
ONE OF MY 2012 TROPICAL PLANT PURCHASES is starting to scare me. The so-called Rex begonia vine—no begonia at all, really, but a gorgeous grape relative from parts of Southeast Asia and Australia—is not going to fit through the door this fall if this lusty behavior keeps up. Meet beautiful Cissus discolor, which I intended to overwinter indoors as a houseplant…oh, dear, what was I thinking when I trained it upward instead of in an easier-to-carry-in hanging basket?
Cissus and More in the Latest Podcast
I TALKED ABOUT CISSUS DISCOLOR on the latest podcast I do each week with Robin Hood Radio, WHDD in Sharon, Connecticut, the smallest NPR station in the nation. You can stream it here, or subscribe free in iTunes or using the Stitcher app. Look for the Aug. 13, 2012 episode.
Back to my too-big plant: Yes, sometimes I get over-enthusiastic, a curse among gardeners. But even if I fail to make the now-giant vine happy indoors this winter, or have to give it some haircuts first, I highly recommend it as an “annual” in the seasonal garden, or a houseplant (sources to buy a small plant are below). Its leaves are like stained glass (or like a Rex begonia): a mix of purple-wine colors and green and lavish splashes of silver. Left to ramble and given ideal conditions, Cissus discolor will reach 10 feet, and climbs using wispy tendrils.
The Rex begonia vine likes bright indirect light–not baking sun, but not too much shade, either, and because of its origins in places like Java and Cambodia, it’s not surprising that temperatures below 50 are ill-advised (60 being safer). Apparently 60-75 or perhaps 80 is ideal, and I can manage that, though I doubt it will like low humidity indoors here come cold weather–meaning it may go into a semi-resting state and even drop some leaves. In anticipation this fall, I’ll start to coax it to slow down a bit by watering less liberally, as I do with many non-hardy things.
If you buy one, remember: hanging basket.
Where to Buy Rex Begonia Vine