Have you ever wanted a plant only to find out it wouldn’t work out? Perhaps you wanted ivy only to discover it was toxic to your pets.
Or maybe you wanted to grow grapes but discovered how much work they can require.
Cissus antarctica (SIS-us an-tarc-tic-ah), is better known as kangaroo vine. This grape relative comes from Eastern Australia, is fairly low-maintenance, and resembles ivy.
Kangaroo vine (sometimes also called kangaroo ivy or water vine) is a proud member of the Vitaceae family and perhaps the most famous plant in its genus, containing between 324 and 444 different species.
You’ll often find this perennial plant listed under the pseudonym of Cissus oblongata.
Most Cissus varieties are relatively easy to care for, attractive, and able to be grown indoors and out, there’s plenty to love with this plant.
Kangaroo Vine Cissus Antarctica Care
Size & Growth
These wonderful fast-growing plants or vines can be trained on various surfaces such as bamboo poles using its strong tendrils, but it can also creep along the ground.
Outdoors, the plant will generally reach over 13’ feet tall or stretch out to nearly 20’ feet.
Indoors, it will generally keep to a more manageable size of 6 ½ to 9 2/4’ feet.
A fast grower, the vines are known to reach a diameter of 3 ⅛” inches.
But the real attraction is its oval, dark green leaves, which are glossy and serrated on short, reddish stalks.
Each leaf may measure between 3 and 6” inches long, has a leathery texture, and the undersides – like much of the plant – are covered in reddish-brown to rust-colored hairs.
Flowering and Fragrance
Chances are, you won’t notice this plant’s blooms which are a pale gold to yellow color and measure less than an inch across.
There’s a good chance the plant won’t bloom at all if grown indoors.
However, if you’re lucky enough to see this plant bloom from spring into summer, the flowers will give way to small round berries of around ⅓” inches across.
These bluish black berries are edible and give this plant more value than looks alone.
Light & Temperature
One of the main attractions of the Cissus antarctica is its ability to adapt to most lighting conditions.
It doesn’t do well in full sun, burning the leaves.
However, it thrives in bright, indirect light shade, dappled sunlight, partial shade, and can even handle heavy shade of 2 hours or less of sunlight per day.
Hot and dry are two enemies of the kangaroo vine, even though it can handle drought conditions.
Instead, a moderate to high humidity level is best, with average household humidity working well.
If you suspect it’s not getting enough, be sure to augment the humidity through misting or a humidifier. Keep the plant away from central heating or other forms of artificial heat that saps moisture from the air.
And speaking of hot, kangaroo ivy is best planted outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.
During the growing period, it enjoys temperature ranges of 61° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit but can suffer if temperatures get higher than 59° degrees Fahrenheit during its dormant phase.
A temperature of 55° degrees Fahrenheit is generally preferred while it rests and drops to 40° degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable. Still, it can only handle brief periods of exposure to temperatures as low as 32° degrees Fahrenheit before suffering permanent damage.
Watering and Feeding
Kangaroo vine prefers to be in evenly moist but not wet soil.
When using the soak-and-dry method (and why wouldn’t you be?), water when the soil is dry ½” inch down.
It can tolerate drought conditions for 2 to 3 days and may be sensitive to tap water due to the presence of lime.
Cut back in winter, watering only often enough to keep the soil from completely drying out.
A 1/2 strength balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer is perfect for this plant, provided every 2 to 3 weeks in spring and summer. Follow the instructions on the package.
Soil & Transplanting
The key to good soil for kangaroo vine is loamy and well-drained.
It can be sandy or clay, as long as there’s a lot of organic material present, and the vine can grow in an unbelievably large pH range of 5.5 to 8.0.
A good indoor mix designed for African Violets should work well indoors. Outdoors take your favorite potting soil and add leaf mulch and coarse sand at a portion ratio of 6/3/1.
A thin layer of organic mulch will not only insulate the roots, but help provide additional food.
Potted plants will need to be repotted every spring to a pot one size larger.
Avoid giving them too big of a pot, or they’ll try to fill it too quickly.
Also, once a kangaroo vine has been established in a location, it doesn’t like to be moved from that spot, even when potted.
Grooming And Maintenance
This vine generally only needs light pruning in late summer.
However, if there are a lot of fallen leaves present, you will need to prune them more aggressively.
More on Cissus Plants
How To Propagate Water Vine
You may plant the seeds of this plant if you’re lucky enough to have it bloom.
For the rest of us, stem cuttings in the spring will be the best way to propagate kangaroo vine.
Kangaroo Ivy Pests or Diseases
While this plant has some minor tolerance to drought and cold, it’s also vulnerable to arid air and lime.
Mealybugs, scale, and spider mites may infest the plant on rare occasions, and the only real diseases to watch out for are root rot and fungal infections.
The berries of this plant are edible, and it’s considered non-toxic to humans and pets. But, the sap may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals.
Cissus Antarctica Uses
A very hardy and fast-growing vine easily trained, kangaroo ivy is a perfect substitute for ivy plants.
It’s commonly used to climb surfaces or on support poles and used as a creeping groundcover.
The berries are small but edible.