Pellionia – Pellionia pulchra

Pellionia is a pretty foliage plant that is suited to hanging baskets. Native to South-East Asia, especially to Vietnam, Burma, the Malaysian Peninsula and Polynesia, Pellionia was first cultivated in the early twentieth century. The plants are named in honour of a young French naval officer, A.M.J. Alphonse Pellio (1795— 1868), a member of the French voyage of discovery headed by Louis Freycinet.

Grown for its handsome foliage, Pellionia is a low, bushy plant with pretty, marbled leaves. Some varieties produce small, insignificant flowers in the summer, but they sap energy and nourishment from the leaves, so it is best to pinch them out. The long trailing stems grow with great vigour, and the veined leaves appear in a flat plane opposite each other along the length of the stem. If the stems grow straggly in the summer, pinch them back.

Pellionia is a straightforward plant to grow, but it has some special requirements. It needs high humidity and a draught-free position, and must never be exposed to direct sunlight.Pellionia - Pellionia pulchra

The plant likes a light, rich compost, and needs to be repotted in spring if the roots have run out of space.

In spite of the prolific growth pattern, both the leaves and stems are delicate and should be protected from both direct sunlight and draughts. To ensure adequate humidity, plants can be hung above groups of other plants, placed in an outer pot with a layer of moist pebbles in the base, or stood on a support in a dish of water.

Pellionias are low, creeping plants which are seldom more than 20— 25cm (8-10in) tall. The trailing stems can, however, be quite long.

Varieties

Pellionia pulchra has pale, grey-green leaves with dark veins and edges. It is also called Satin Pellionia.

Pllionia daveauana has olive-green leaves with a tinge of bronze and a pale grey centre vein. Its stems are very fragile.

Propagation

Take cuttings in early spring. Remove lower leaves and trim the cuttings to 10cm (4in) long. Put 3 or 4 cuttings into a pot of moist, warm, fast-draining rooting compost with plenty of peat. Cover with a perforated polythene bag. Maintain a temperature of 21°-24°C (70°-75°F). The cuttings need warmth to take root. They also need light, but must be protected from direct sunlight.

After about 3-5 weeks, transplant rooted cuffings to a mixture of two parts soil-based potting compost and one part leaf-mould. Plant 3-4 cuttings in a 15cm (6in) pot for a bushy plant.

Pests And Diseases

Black or brown, badly withered leaves indicate either too much sunlight, a cold draughty position or not enough humidity. Treatment: Move the plant to a more favourable position and raise humidity by standing pot on a tray of moist pebbles.

Grey mould, a brownish-grey dust on the leaves, indicates cold, damp conditions.

Treatment: Spray with an appropriate fungicide and move the plant to a warmer position.

Aphids may appear on the plant.

Treatment: Spray with an insecticide.

PLANT CARE

This is a fairly easy plant to grow, provided its needs — low sunlight, high humidity and protection from draughts — are met. Pellionia cannot tolerate direct sunlight.

Potting: Repot in early spring if the plants fill their pots, using a light mixture of peat and potting compost.

Pellionia needs high humidity and a light, moist compost. Do not allow the compost to dry out at any time. Check daily in hot weather. Stand pot on moist pebbles, and mist spray the leaves frequently.

Feeding: Feed only occasionally with a weak liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: This plant needs light, but cannot tolerate direct sunlight, even for a short time each day. It can thrive in a draught-free north-facing window in winter.
  • Temperature: Pellionia will flourish in ordinary room temperatures in summer and winter. The temperature shouldn’t fall below 13°C (55°F).

Buying Tips

  • As a foliage plant, Pellionia is attractive throughout the year, and can be bought at any time from most garden centres or nurseries:
  • Choose a healthy-looking plant with a compact shape. Pellionia can be confused with various hanging varieties of Pilea, to which iris distantly related.
  • It can live for many years in the right conditions.

Pellionia is a charming plant grown for its marbled foliage.

Its creeping habit makes it ideal in hanging baskets or displayed on a pedestal to show off its long, trailing stems.

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