How to Grow and Care for Cissus Discolor 

Are you looking for an attractive vining plant that produces lots of large colorful leaves? Look no further than Cissus Discolor.

Cissus Discolor is an easy to grow plant, popular for its distinctive deep green, silvery white and burgundy leaves. The colorful leaves create a particularly colorful effect when allowed to cascade over the edge of a pot or hanging basket. Cissus Discolor is also a good houseplant, thriving in your home or greenhouse’s sheltered conditions.

This guide to Cissus Discolor will take you through everything you need to know about growing this colorful vine.

1 Cissus discolor leaf

These plants produce attractive foliage. Cissus-discolor by Scott Zona / CC 2.0

What is Cissus Discolor?

Native to parts of Southeast Asia, including Java and Cambodia, Cissus Discolor is a vining plant.

Also known as the Tapestry Vine or Rex Begonia Vine, Cissus Discolor is not related to the Rex Begonia plant despite producing similar multi-colored leaves.

Instead, the Tapestry Vine is part of the Vitaceae plant family; it is related to the grapevine. In addition to Discolor, the Cissus genus has two other popular cultivars:

  • C. Rhombifolia, or the grape ivy, is a popular houseplant,
  • C. Quadrangularis, a thick-stemmed medicinal plant.

In addition to these cultivars, there are several hundred other plants in the Cissus genus. The vast majority of these are not cultivated in homes and gardens.

Cissus Discolor is an easy to grow, low-maintenance houseplant. Happy to stay in your home throughout the year; during the warmer summer months, you can also place the plants outside on a patio or balcony to enjoy some fresh air.

Thriving in humid, tropical weather, the Tapestry Vine can live for many years as long as it isn’t exposed to temperatures below 50 ℉.

As Cissus Discolor grows, it produces elongated heart-shaped leaves in shades of dark green and burgundy with silvery-white and burgundy markings between the leaf vines. These sit on vines or climbing tendrils that reach up to 11 inches long.

2 Colorful cissus discolor foliage
The plants are popular for their colorful, elongated leaves. Cissus-discolor 03 by Scott Zona / CC 2.0

You can train the thin, wiry vines to twine up trellis or fences. This provides a frame to showcase the plant’s colorful foliage. Alternatively, you can plant the Tapestry Vine in a tall pot or hanging basket and allow the foliage to spill over the sides, creating a waterfall of color.

Interestingly young leaves are solid burgundy in color; as they mature, the leaves take on their colorful marking.

Where to Grow Cissus Discolor

This attractive specimen is a warm weather-loving plant. If you are growing the plant outside, treat it as an annual. Plants in pots can either be grown as a houseplant or moved out purely to enjoy the summer months.

Positioning Plants in Your Home

If you are growing your Tapestry Vine inside, place it in a bright but not direct light. An east-facing window is ideal. In this position, the plant can enjoy lots of morning sun while also being protected from the harsh glare of the afternoon sun.

South-facing windows are also good; just ensure the pot is slightly back from the window. This enables your plant to enjoy lots of light without sitting in the direct glare of the sun.

Remember, in the wild, these plants grow beneath the canopy of large trees, climbing up their branches. Consequently, they do best in filtered light.

The temperature around your plants should remain between 70 and 80 ℉. While the plants can handle temperatures a little cooler, exposure to anything below 50 ℉ can kill the plants.

Humidity levels should remain over 40%. Regularly misting the foliage with a Driew Plant Mister Spray Bottle is an easy way to maintain humidity levels.

You can also grow these plants in a greenhouse. A greenhouse with vents and fans lets you maintain an even temperature around your plants while also providing good air circulation.

3 Cissus discolor greenhouse
These plants also do well in a greenhouse. Rex begonia vine by 9V1BH / CC 2.0

Where to Grow Cissus Discolor Outside

Plant, either in the ground if you are growing the Tapestry Vine as an annual or in pots in a partial sun position. Your chosen spot should enjoy lots of morning and late afternoon sun.

Don’t plant in areas exposed to the hot noon and early afternoon sun. This can scorch the foliage and dry the soil out quickly, causing plants to fail.

Wait until the temperatures have warmed up and all danger of frost has passed before planting outside. These are tropical plants and are unlikely to survive exposure to temperatures lower than 50 ℉.

The Tapestry Vine works well in a pot on its own or in a larger pot, combined with other foliage and flowering plants. Placing the plants near a trellis or arbor gives them a frame to climb, showcasing their colorful foliage. You can also plant in hanging baskets.

4 Vining cissus discolor
Vining plants are at their best if given a trellis to scale. 190908 142 Chicago Botanic Gdn by cultivar413 / CC 2.0

Planting and Repotting a Tapestry Vine

It is always a good idea to repot a plant as soon after purchase as possible. You don’t know what soil plants sold in garden stores and plant nurseries are sitting in; it could be old, tired and lacking in nutrients. Repotting gives you a chance to settle your new plant in suitable soil and fresh pot.

If you are cultivating the Tapestry Vine as a perennial plant, repotting every few years helps to sustain healthy growth. Signs that your plant needs repotting include:

  • Roots sticking out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot,
  • Soil drying out quickly between waterings,
  • Growth slowing or ceasing.

Repotting is best done in early spring before the plant fully awakens from its semi-dormant winter period.

Before you begin, ensure you have a clean pot ready to use. This should be the same size or slightly larger than the pot currently holding the plant. The pot should also have drainage holes in the bottom.

5 Cissus discolor pots
Use a clean pot with drainage holes.  

As well as the pot, make sure you also have nutrient-rich, well-draining, fresh potting soil. You can either purchase a commercial potting soil mix or make your own by combining 50% potting soil, 40% perlite for drainage and 10% peat moss.

If you don’t have a potting bench, lay down a few sheets of newspaper.

Remove the plant from its old pot. Squeezing the sides loosens the soil, enabling you to slide out the plant. Gently brush away any soil that remains on the roots. This gives you a chance to check the roots for signs of disease or infestation. Any mushy, brown roots should be cut away with garden scissors. Sterilize your tools after use.

Add a layer of soil to the bottom of the pot. Place your Tapestry Vine in the center of the pot. Position so that the top of the root system sits just below the lip of the pot. You may need to add more soil or take some away before you get the level just right. When you are happy, add more soil to the pot, filling in the gaps around the plant.

Firm down the soil and water well.

If you are planting Cissus Discolor as part of a mixed flower pot, fill the pot with well-draining potting soil. Make a hole and plant your Tapestry Vine to a similar depth as in its previous pot.

Caring for Cissus Discolor

In the right position, the Tapestry Vine is a largely low-maintenance plant. To make the most of the foliage, you can try growing the plants either in a hanging basket or using a trellis to support the sprawling vines.

6 Care for cissus discolor
A little care encourages healthy growth. _Cissus-discolor by Top TropicalsCC 2.0 

When to Water

How often you water the Tapestry Vine depends on where the plant is growing and the time of year.

Plants growing outside in the spring and summer can be watered with a hose at the same time as your other flower pots.

Aim to keep the soil evenly moist. Plants growing in small pots or hanging baskets require watering daily during hot spells. Water Tapestry Vine plants in larger pots every few days. As long as they aren’t in full or direct sun, the soil shouldn’t dry out too quickly.

Water indoor Cissus Discolor plants when the soil is dry to the touch. How often you need to water depends on growing conditions such as temperature and light exposure.

In general, plants sitting in pots measuring 8 inches and smaller require watering every 8 to 10 days. Tapestry Vine plants growing in larger pots need only be watered every 10 to 14 days.

If your pot is sitting on a drainage saucer or Idyllize Plastic Drip Tray, make sure you empty it a few hours after watering. Tapestry Vine plants dislike wet feet.

Water indoor Cissus Discolor plants sparingly during the winter months. At this time of the year, the plant is semi-dormant and doesn’t need lots of water. A good drink every four weeks is fine. Don’t worry if your plants lose their leaves during this period; new foliage emerges in the spring.

Foliage withering is a clear sign that your Tapestry Vine needs a drink.

How to Fertilize

A regular dose of fertilizer, when your Cissus Discolor is actively growing, helps to encourage lots of healthy foliage to develop. Regular fertilizing can also encourage flowering, but these are of little interest when compared to the plant’s foliage.

7 Cissus discolor foliage and flower
Flowers are of little interest when compared to the foliage. 錦葉葡萄(青紫葛) by 阿橋 HQ / CC 2.0

From spring to late summer, fertilize indoor Tapestry Vine plants every 3 to 4 weeks. An organic liquid fertilizer such as Espoma Organic Indoor Plant Food diluted to the appropriate strength can easily be incorporated into your watering routine.

Plants growing outside in pots, either on their own or alongside other flowers, can be fertilized at the same time as other flower pots. Again a balanced, liquid fertilizer diluted to the appropriate strength can be used.

Don’t fertilize your Tapestry Vine plant in the fall or winter.

How to Overwinter Cissus Discolor

Plants growing outside need to be moved inside before the temperatures fall below 50 ℉.

To prepare your plant for overwintering, cut back the vines to roughly half their length with sharp scissors. Place the plant in a bright window that enjoys lots of indirect light.

After moving your Cissus Discolor, don’t be too concerned if some of the leaves turn yellow or fall from the plant. This is natural and part of the transition process. Water every four weeks to prevent the soil from drying out completely.

The plants can be moved back outside in the spring when temperatures have warmed and all danger of frost has passed.

Do I Need to Prune Tapestry Vine?

If your Cissus Discolor plant is outside during the summer months, cut it back by half in the early fall when you move the plant inside for the winter. This makes it easier to move and also encourages fresh foliage to form the following year.

Houseplants can be pruned whenever they start to outgrow their space. Healthy trimmings can be propagated to create new plants.

8 Prune cissus discolor
Pruning helps to keep the plant in check. Source: Cissus-discolor by Top TropicalsCC 2.0 

How to Propagate Cissus Discolor

In addition to being easy to care for, Cissus Discolor is also easy to propagate. Only ever propagate healthy sections of the plant. These are more likely to succeed and develop into healthy, colorful plants.

Let your plant grow to a decent size before you propagate. Attempting to propagate a small plant can cause it stress, stunting growth temporarily. Larger plants are better able to withstand propagation.

Propagation can be messy; a propagation station helps to contain the mess and ensure the process goes smoothly.

Propagation by Stem Cuttings

Use garden scissors to cut a 6-inch section of stem from the parent plant. The stem should have 3 to 4 leaves. Remove all but the top leaf from the cutting.

Dip the cut section in Garden Safe TakeRoot Rooting Hormone before planting the cutting in a 3-inch pot filled with light, well-draining, damp potting soil.

After planting, cover the cutting with a plastic bag or place it in a propagator; this helps to maintain humidity levels around the cutting. A LeJoy Propagator has built-in humidity vents, giving you even more control of the microclimate around your cuttings.

If you are placing the cuttings in a plastic bag, use sticks or straws to prevent the bag from touching the cutting.

Water the cutting as and when necessary.

Roots form in 4 to 6 weeks. To check that roots are forming, gently pull on the cutting. If you feel resistance, it is a sign that roots are present. When roots form, remove the cutting from the propagator or protective cover. From now on, you can care for the cutting as you would a larger Tapestry Vine plant.

Propagation in Water

Take a 6-inch stem cutting from a healthy plant and remove all but the top leaf.

Removing leaves from the cutting creates nodes from which roots develop. Place the cutting in a jar of water; the water should be deep enough that the nodes are covered but not so deep that the top leaf touches the water.

Change the water every day.

Roots emerge in 4 to 6 weeks. Once roots are present, remove the cutting from the water and plant in a pot filled with well-draining soil.

Propagation by Layering

Cissus Discolor plants produce roots wherever nodes contact the soil; in fact, these plants can produce roots across the entire length of their stem. This makes layering the easiest propagation method.

To propagate by layering, identify a healthy stem or vine and remove a leaf to create a node. Pin the vine to the soil; the newly created node should contact the soil. A hairpin or piece of bent wire can be used to keep the stem in place.

Keep the soil moist.

Roots form in a few weeks. When roots are present, the vine can be cut from the mother plant and grown on as a separate Cissus Discolor plant.

Common Cissus Discolor Problems

Correctly cared for, Cissus Discolor is unlikely to develop any major problems.

Brown markings on the foliage are usually caused by sunburn. Move the plant out of its direct light position to a slightly more sheltered spot.

Exposure to the intense midday and afternoon sun is the most common cause of sunburn. Try to position your plant somewhere that enjoys lots of early morning sun and enjoys a little shelter in the afternoon.

Cissus Discolor is prone to whitefly infestations. One of the easiest to spot signs of infestation are small, white eggs on the leaves. Treat infestations by wiping alcohol or neem oil onto the leaves. Our guide to using neem oil on plants explains how to safely and effectively use this treatment.

9 Cissus discolor foliage infestation

Check the foliage for signs of whitefly infestation.,0,112 

Giving your Cissus Discolor can cause a number of issues, the most serious of which is root rot. Early signs of overwatering include foliage turning yellow, limp and falling from the plant.

As the disease progresses, the stem can soften and the plant may emit a foul odor. If caught early enough, you can try to save your plant by repotting it into a clean pot filled with fresh, well-draining potting soil.

After removing the plant from the old pot, inspect the root system and cut away any soft, mushy or discolored roots. Remember to sterilize your garden scissors afterwards.

If root rot is too severe, you may not be able to save the Cissus Discolor. Instead, propagate the plant by taking cuttings from healthy sections.

Cissus discolor is an attractive climbing plant, ideal for cultivation as an indoor hanging plant. You can also use a trellis to showcase its colorful foliage. Similar to a begonia, Cissus Discolor is an easy-to-care-for, non-toxic houseplant that is ideal for novice and nervous gardeners as well as anyone looking to add a little color to their home.

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