Cissus discolor [KISS-us, DIS-kol-or], comes from the island of Java, where it’s found growing in the warm tropical rain forests.
Thanks to its large, striking leaves and climbing growth, Cissus discolor has become a popular houseplant.
It grows well in containers, in a hanging basket or along trellises.
The plant belongs to the Vitaceae (grape) family and the genus Cissus, which includes 350 species of woody vines. The most popular being Cissus rhombifolia (grape ivy).
Due to the interesting pattern on the wide, long leaves, people commonly call the plant the rex begonia vine.
It features large leaves with showy patterns resembling the various hybrids of painted leaf Begonia.
It’s not the fastest grower, and it is difficult to care for as a houseplant.
To enjoy full, colorful foliage, give the plant lots of warmth and sunshine.
Cissus Discolor Care
Size and Growth
Cissus discolor is a climbing plant reaching heights or lengths of up to 6’ – 8’ feet.
It’s a medium grower which lasts for many years when given the proper care.
As a climbing vine, it’s often trained on a trellis, pole, or hoop.
The heart-shaped leaves are the highlight of this plant.
The pointed leaves are typically about 3” – 6” inches long and feature a velvety olive-green texture.
The veins are silvery-white, providing a sharp contrast against the green leaves.
The stems, leaf stalks, and the undersides of the leaves are bright red.
When the leaves first appear, the tops and bottoms may appear completely red or even purplish.
As they mature, the tops begin to turn green while the stems may start to become tan.
Flowering and Fragrance
The flowers are insignificant and rarely appear, especially when the plant is grown indoors.
Light and Temperature
The begonia vine cissus needs bright light and warmth.
It’s winter-hardy in USDA hardiness zones 11 or higher.
The ideal temperatures during the summer are between 70° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C – 27° C).
During the winter, keep it at temperatures between 65° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C – 21° C).
Outside of the native climates, it grows well indoors at normal room temperature.
Watering and Feeding
Water the plant regularly during the active growth period of the spring and summer.
Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely.
The plant also benefits from fertilizer during the spring, summer, and fall.
Fertilize every three to four weeks during these seasons.
In the winter, water sparingly. Wait for the soil to dry out and don’t fertilize.
As this plant requires high humidity, misting helps keep the plant healthy.
Mist the plant every day or two, especially during dry times of the year, such as winter.
Another option is to place a tray of moist gravel under the plant.
Soil and Transplanting
Plant the discolor vine in rich potting soil with extra humus.
Ensure the soil offers fast drainage and repot the plant every two years.
The begonia vine plant does not need grooming, but trimming helps shape the plant as it grows on a pole or trellis.
How to Propagate Rex Begonia Vine Cissus
As the plant rarely flowers, buying seeds is the only way to obtain them.
The best way to propagate cissus discolor is with cuttings.
Take the cuttings when grooming the plant in the early spring or late autumn.
When selecting cuttings, look for stems partially woody.
Avoid stems still deep red or completely tan and then follow these steps:
- Dip the cuttings in root hormone powder and plant in porous soil.
- Use regular potting soil combined with peat and sand.
- Water the cuttings well and cover them with a plastic bag.
- Poke several holes in the bag for ventilation.
- Place the pots near a heat source and check them daily to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out.
The cuttings should take root in about one month.
After new growth starts to appear, remove the plastic bag, and move the plants to a new location.
About one month after removing the plastic, the young plants will be ready to transplant into individual pots.
In a large pot, three to six plants may grow together, allowing for a fuller plant.
Cissus Pests or Diseases?
Small white eggs or insects indicate a whitefly infestation.
More on: How To Get Rid of Whiteflies
The infestation halts with the use of an insecticide.
Sometimes the pests are difficult to eradicate.
The plant may require multiple treatments of insecticide.
Another issue to look for is scorch marks or brown patches on the leaves.
This the result of bright sunlight or dry air.
Move the plant to a slightly shadier spot and start misting it more frequently.
If the leaves don’t develop the silvery-white veins, the plant may require more sunlight, in which case, move the plant to a sunnier location.
Suggested Uses For Rex Begonia Vine
The discolor begonia vine looks best growing on a tall trellis where its leaves can shine.
It also works well in conservatories and bright rooms needing some color.