Grape Ivy – Cissus rhombifolia

Grape Ivy is a strong, fast-growing climber with glossy, dark green leaves, and is one of the most popular foliage plants for growing in a room or conservatory. Extremely easy to grow, this plant will flourish in normal room conditions. The spreading foliage needs lots of room.

Native to Central and South America and the West Indies, Grape Ivy is an evergreen vine with a lush habit of growth. The plant is adaptable, tolerating low levels of light for long periods, and it will thrive in normal summer or winter room temperatures.

Individual stems may grow as much as 90cm (3ft) in a year and mature stems can be anything up to 3m (10ft) long when trained up a pyramid of tall stakes. The toothed leaves consist of three leaflets, each about 5cm (2in) long. Grape Ivy produces tendrils with forked tips from alternate leaf axils and these help the plant cling and climb. Mature leaves are a glossy dark green with brownish undersides, while young leaves and stems have a silvery colour.

VarietiesGrape Ivy - Cissus rhombifolia

There are three varieties of Grape Ivy commonly available: ‘Mandaiana’ has large, rounded leaflets and an erect habit of growth; ‘Erect Danica’ has serrated leaves and ‘Ellen Fionia’ is a recently introduced hybrid with large leaves.

Display ideas

Train Grape Ivy up a pyramid of bamboo canes or plant two or three plants in a large container and train them to grow round a window or over a trellis. Grape Ivy also looks good grown in a hanging basket which will allow the foliage to spread.

Training your plant

Set up a framework for Grape Ivy to climb on before plants become too large to handle, spreading out young stems to ensure even growth. Use a pyramid of bamboo canes, a trellis or a network of wires secured to a conservatory wall. To make a pyramid, insert three canes into the compost close to the edge of the pot. Tie at the top to form a tripod, then secure the stems to the canes with plastic plant ties or raffia, re-tying as the plant grows. You can use wooden poles instead of bamboo, but treat with a suitable preservative. Remember, Grape Ivy needs lots of room.

Pests And Diseases

Fine webbing under the leaves is a sign of red spider mite.

Prevention: Avoid hot, dry conditions by misting plants regularly. Spray with a suitable insecticide and repeat regularly.

Aphids can attack new, tender shoots during spring and summer. Treatment: Cut away badly affected shoots and destroy. Spray with tepid water to knock off the pests or use a suitable insecticide.

Pale leaves and lack of new growth in spring are a sign of soil exhaustion. Treatment: Repot or top-dress the plant. Regular feeding from early spring to late autumn is essential to keep Grape Ivy looking healthy.

Leaves which turn yellow and then drop indicate overwatering. Treatment: Allow the compost to dry out and water less in future.

Drooping leaves on an otherwise healthy plant indicates under-watering. Treatment: Give water immediately. If the compost has dried out completely, soak for 30 minutes, then allow excess water to drain away.

PLANT CARE

This plant is generally trouble-free. Spray the leaves regularly with soft water to clear them of dust and dirt, or stand them outside in warm, showery weather. Trim away any untidy stems in spring.

  • Potting: Repot young plants every spring in a soil-based compost. Large plants should be top-dressed with 5cm (2in) of fresh compost.
  • Water generously during periods of active growth, but do not allow the plant to stand in water. Water less frequently in winter, allowing the compost to dry out between waterings.
  • Feeding: Feed with a standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks from early spring to early autumn. Do not feed during winter.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Grape Ivy will tolerate shade but prefers a warm, sunny position.
  • Temperature: Normal room temperatures suit this plant, providing the summer temperature does not rise above 24°C (75°F). Move the plant to a cooler spot and mist spray if this happens. In winter, see that temperatures do not fall below 10°C (50°F).

Buying Tips

  • Grape Ivy is available throughout the year from garden centres and many florists. ‘Ellen Danica’ is the most widely available variety.
  • Choose a plant which is growing vigorously and has dark green, glossy leaves. Make sure there are plenty of new silvery shoots and tendrils.
  • This plant will thrive for many years. Cut back large plants in spring if necessary.
  • Grape Ivy is one of the most popular foliage plants for the home. It has attractive, evergreen leaves and can be grown as either a climbing or hanging plant.

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