The Vitaceae are best known for being the family of grapes, and Cissus striata (SISS-us stree-AH-tuh) is one of the many non-grape plants that resemble this common berry.
Originating in south-central Chile and parts of southern Brazil, this plant can now be found throughout South America.
Since its discovery, this plant (most commonly known as Ivy of Uruguay) has had many scientific names, including Ampelopsis sempervirens, Parthenocissus striata, and Vitis striata.
It’s also sometimes referred to as miniature grape ivy plants or an evergreen Virginia creeper due to its resemblance to the larger Parthenocissus quinquefolia.
Cissus Striata Care
Size & Growth
This plant can vary greatly in size, with specimens of this evergreen climber reaching as tall as 30′ feet when given enough support.
However, it’s far more likely your miniature grape ivy will be a more manageable 20′ feet or so.
The tendrils and leaves can give the plant a spread of approximately 3′ feet.
While considered a somewhat fast grower, it will still take 5 to 10 years to reach its full height.
As the stems mature, they turn sandy brown to a reddish tone.
This contrasts wonderfully with its dark green palmate leaves, which are 1.5″ to 3″ inches across and have five glossy evergreen leaflets that become coarsely toothed at their tips.
The tendrils are also evergreen and help the vine grab onto any nearby structure firmly without harming trees or other living supports.
Flowering and Fragrance
Appearing in the summer, the tiny green flowers are easy to miss visually, and they tend to appear in clusters opposite the vine’s leaves.
However, if you don’t see them, you’ll likely know they’re there by the pleasantly sweet aroma they give off.
If fertilized, the flowers are replaced with glossy blue-black berries that resemble grapes or currants.
Light & Temperature
Cissus striata can tolerate full sun to partial shade, although too much harsh sunlight can scorch its leaves.
Indoors, aim for bright, indirect sunlight to filtered light.
Outdoors, it’s best to place it in dappled sunlight or full morning exposure with afternoon shade.
Plant outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 8a to 11b, or bring an indoor specimen outside to warm weather in cooler zones.
Unlike many other plants, the ivy of Uruguay is surprisingly cold hardy and can handle winter temperatures as low as 15° degrees Fahrenheit.
The plant has also been known to survive brief exposures of 5° degrees Fahrenheit, although this is best avoided.
Indoors, your normal household temperature range is perfect for the plant, and it won’t complain about it getting a little warmer or colder.
However, you may wish to shelter it from drafts, such as too close to a vent or AC unit.
Watering and Feeding
Use the soak-and-dry method for this plant, testing the soil with your finger to determine when to water.
For both indoor and outdoor plants, you’ll want to water when the soil is dry, approximately 2″ to 3″ inches down.
Water slowly and evenly to avoid the risk of overwatering, stopping when you see moisture seeping from the drainage holes or the garden soil begins to slow down its absorption rate.
A balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer given monthly is perfect for this plant.
When autumn comes, be sure to cut back on both food and water so the vine can safely enter its dormant period.
Soil & Transplanting
As with most terrestrial plants, your miniature grape ivy requires well-draining soil to help prevent the risk of root rot.
This can be achieved by placing a substrate of coarse gravel under your planting area or at the bottom of a container before adding the plant and soil.
Likewise, you may wish to mix in some perlite or coarse sand.
The soil will need plenty of organic matter, so a potting mix for African violets can be a great start, as is mixing in coconut coir or sphagnum moss.
You may also choose to blend in some organic compost for the garden when planting and topping with some additional mulch or compost each spring.
Ivy of Uruguay can handle a wide pH range from an acidic 5.6 to a slightly alkaline 7.8, although you may wish to keep it slightly acidic 6.0 to 6.8.
Whether planting in a pot or the ground, make sure to provide this creeper with some form of support to get the most out of it.
Some good examples are trellises, bookshelves, trees, or even stone or brick walls.
Container plants will need repotting annually or whenever it doubles in size, whichever is first.
Be sure to give it fresh soil when repotting and graduate to a pot size higher, if needed.
Grooming And Maintenance
Pruning is best done in early spring, removing only as much as is necessary to maintain a healthy shape.
However, removing stray or diseased growth and pinching young growth can be done throughout the growing season.
When allowing the vine to climb trees, you may also choose to prune it back every few years to give the tree more room to grow, although this isn’t necessary.
How To Propagate Evergreen Virginia Creeper
This plant is mainly propagated through stem cuttings, although it can also be layered successfully.
Miniature Grape Ivy Pests or Diseases
Ivy of Uruguay is cold hardy down to around 5° degrees Fahrenheit (if given brief exposure) and drought tolerant.
It’s mostly pest and disease-free, although mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies are known to infest it.
Root rot is the biggest risk for the plant, and it may develop sooty mold as a side effect of infestations.
The plant is generally considered non-toxic to humans and pets, although the berries are inedible.
Cissus Striata Uses
Ivy of Uruguay makes for an attractive, evergreen accent in various settings, such as conservatories, growing up the sides of bookcases, and on walls or trellises.
If left on the ground, it will creep and become a groundcover, while planting it in a hanging basket can result in an attractive cascading plant.