Pellionia pulchra (pell-ee-OH-nee-uh PUL-kruh) belongs to the Urticaceae family (along with the aluminum plant) and the genus Pellionia.
Pellionia also known as the Polynesian Ivy is a low, bushy plant that has beautiful marbled leaves.
It is native to South-East Asian countries, especially to Burma, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
First cultivated in the twentieth century, ‘pulchra’ was named after a French naval officer, A.M.J. Alphonse Pellio (1795 – 1868) a member of the French voyage of discovery.
Pellionia Pulchra Care
This family of tender creeping foliage plants is suitable as terrariums plants or hanging baskets. While they prefer warm humid air, they do well wherever African violets thrive.
The same potting mixture used for violets is to their liking: A mixture of equal parts of sand, peat moss and leaf mold or good loam.
They like enough water, rainwater preferred, to keep the soil moist at all times.
In the Winter they like plenty of light, but in the Summer they rest in a shaded corner of an east porch.
Pellionia daveauana has a pointed leaf of gray-green, with outside bands of a purplish brown. The contrast is striking.
Pellionia pulchra has a smaller leaf, blunt and rounded, with a network of dark veins on green, there being as much of the dark veins as of the green of the leaf.
On the undersides, the coloring is silvery, with purple veins.
Because the leaves of the two plants are so different in texture and markings, they make an interesting combination planted together.
This can easily be done as they require the same treatment.
Size & Growth
Polynesian Ivy are generally short plants. When grown in pots, they can grow up to 8” – 10” inches.
However, when these are planted in hanging baskets, the beautiful hanging foliage can be quite long.
Furthermore, the leaves are marbled having visible veins making Pellionia pulchra an excellent option for decorating a hanging basket placed in a window.
Flowering and Fragrance
Pellionia is a flowering plant. However, it is generally grown for its attractive foliage as the flowers are insignificant as compared to the eye-catching leaves.
While flowers may appear during the summer, it is advisable to pinch them as they require a lot of nourishment and can take too much energy from the plant.
Neither the flowers nor the plant itself has a distinctive fragrance.
Light & Temperature
These plants enjoy an abundance of light.
They make a nice option as a hanging basket placed in a window or a greenhouse.
However, these plants should never be placed under direct sunlight. They are also unable to tolerate strong breeze.
The ideal environment to grow a Pellionia is at room temperatures of 72° – 78° degrees Fahrenheit.
Even in winter, these plants can flourish well when maintained at room temperatures, above 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, keep in mind that Polynesian Ivy does well in humid weathers so the air should not be too dry.
Watering and Feeding
Pellionia pulchra needs light soil that should ideally remain moist at all times. However, it is advisable to refrain from overwatering these plants.
During summers, these plants require watering more frequently.
Towards the end of the year, reduce watering but make sure the soil remains moist.
As they enjoy humidity, they grow well in pots placed over wet pebbles and in upside-down pots placed over a dish filled with water.
Soil & Transplanting
Make sure the plant has enough space to thrive and flourish.
It is advisable to repot when plants become pot bound.
The best time of the year to transplant the Pellionia pulchra is during the spring.
For repotting as well as for cuttings, use an airy blend of rich peaty potting soil having a small amount of perlite in it.
Grooming and Maintenance
Pellionia pulchra is one of the “easy” plants that do not ask for a lot of maintenance.
While the over-long stems can be pinched back any time of the year, it is generally advisable to trim leggy plants during the spring.
Pinching encourages plant growth, including the sprouting of new leaves and even breaking of new stems.
How To Propagate Pellionia
Propagate Pellionia through stem cuttings.
Remove the lowest leaves before planting 4” inch-long cuttings in moist soil.
Make sure the soil is fast draining, having a high content of peat moss.
To grow full, bushy plants, put at least 3 – 4 cuttings per pot.
Maintain temperatures between 70° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit.
The cuttings enjoy warm soil and light, do not place them in direct sunlight.
Pellionia thrives during the summer. If the stems grow too long, pinch them back to maintain an appealing shape of the plant.
During the winter, place Pellionia in a window facing north to encourage growth.
Pellionia Pest or Diseases
Withering leaves is one of the most common problems encountered by Pellionia.
Too much sunlight or cold air is often the reason behind black or brown withering leaves. This also happens when temperatures drop below 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
Polynesian ivy plants are also susceptible to small sap-sucking aphid insects.
Spraying these plants with a good-quality natural insecticide (neem oil) is generally enough to deal with this problem.
During the winter, it is common to notice brown-gray dust on the leaves.
This happens when the environment is too cold or damp for the plants.
Relocate the plants to a warmer place to restore health and spray with a fungicide if needed.
Where Can You Use Pellionia?
Pulchra is an excellent decorative houseplant. Its distinctive leaves with patterned veins are aesthetically appealing.
They grow well with other plants and do exceptionally well in hanging baskets placed in windows.