GROWING THE PELLIONIA

13 deg C/55 deg F

This is a genus of small, creeping or trailing plants, with prettily marked and variegated foliage, all liking warmth and humidity. They are excellent for small hanging containers or wall pots in a relatively shaded situation. Only two species usually appear as houseplants. The best known is P. repens, often called P. iliiwaiiium. The common name water-melon pcllionia probably refers to the leaf marking. The undersurface of the foliage is pinkish. The upper surface is light green patterned dark green and with a purplish tint, particularly around the margins. P. pulchra is of similar appearance, but the colouring is given contrast by very dark purplish veining. Both of these plants come from Vietnam, and grow especially well in peal-based potting composts to which crushed charcoal has been added. They like to be kept moist the whole year, but rather less so in winter. In summer, spray the foliage with tepid water.

The plants are easily propagated by division in spring, and are not too difficult to grow provided adequate warmth and humidity can be maintained. They are quite unsuitable for chilly homes, but do well in bottle gardens. Cold soon causes deterioration and leaf yellowing, but the plants are rarely troubled by pests and diseases. If possible grow pellionias with other warmth-loving houseplants. to create a humid micro-climate. The plants are especially useful for the edges of troughs and containers, where the stems can trail over.

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