Tetrastigma Voinierianum: Growing And Care Of The Chestnut Vine

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Tetrastigma Voinierianum – (aka Chestnut Vine, Lizard Plant, Giant Grape Ivy or Wild Grape) is an impressive plant displaying very large, five-lobed leaves that look similar to those of chestnut leaves from family vitaceae.

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Tetrastigma Voinierianum - aka Chestnut Vine growing on trellisPin
Tetrastigma voinierianum grown vertically for use indoors

Though these tropical plants present a bit of a challenge, when you successfully grow Tetrastigma voinierianum in your home, you can enjoy a lush, tropical ambiance year round.

In this article, we discuss the background, the growing, and care of this interesting plant. Read on to learn more.

Tetrastigma Voinierianum Plant Brief:

Lifespan: Chestnut vine is a long-lived perennial plant.

Season: This tropical plant is green all year round.

Growth Rate & Size: In the right conditions, this vigorous plant can fill an entire room. Good care, pruning, and training can be useful in preventing it from overtaking your living space.

Flowers: Indoor flowering is unlikely. If the plant does bloom, blossoms will be small, scentless and unremarkable.

Temperature & Light: The plant is safe at temperatures ranging from 55°-70° degrees Fahrenheit. It likes lots of bright, indirect sunlight. Shelter the plant from direct sunlight.

Watering & Fertilizing: Water generously during the growth season and sparingly during the autumn and winter. Feed monthly during the growing season and not at all in the autumn and winter.

Repotting & Potting Medium: Repot as needed at the end of winter. Always use a good quality, well-draining potting soil mixed 50-50 with perlite, sand, small gravel or peat to improve aeration and drainage.

Pruning & Grooming: Trim unruly, unsightly stems lightly throughout the growth season. Prune vigorously at the end of the rest period.

Propagation: To grow this plant from cuttings. Begin by preparing a container of well-draining potting soil combined 50-50 with perlite, sand, fine gravel or peat.

Place your cutting directly into the mixture and wet it evenly. Place the pot in a warm location where the humidity is high.

You may wish to put the entire pot inside a closed, clear or white plastic bag in bright, indirect light. It’s a good idea to start with several cuttings, as you can expect that some will not survive.

Environment: This plant does best as the centerpiece for a well-lit conservatory, sun porch or greenhouse with a steady, comfortable temperature and a high level of humidity.

Challenge Level: If you are able to consistently provide the right setting and temperature, this plant is fairly easy-care.

Where Does Chestnut Vine Come From?

A native of Laos, this plant is a member of the grape (Vitaceae) family.

In its natural setting, Lizard Vine is a luxuriant climber making its way up the trunks of trees with tendrils that can grow more than a foot per month under the best of conditions.

The French Botanist Charles Baltet first described a specimen he received from M. Voinier a French veterinary surgeon collected while in Laos or (North Vietnam).

Originally known as Vitis voinieriana to honor M. Voinier in the 1902 edition of Revue Horticole in 1902 (page 56). [source]

Later the plant was placed in the genus Tetrastigma by François Gagnepain in 1910.

What Does Tetrastigma Look Like?

Tetrastigma nitens is a large plant with thick, fuzzy dark green leaves. On the undersides of the leaves, you will find small, clear bumps.

These are actually beads of plant sap that provide food for ants in the plant’s native setting. [source]

Leaf of Tetrastigma Voinierianum up close - Gaylord Palms Hotel Orlando, Florida, Dec 2016Pin

Will The Tetrastigma Vine Get Too Big For My House?

In the very best of conditions, a single plant can fill up a space very quickly; however, it isn’t easy to provide the very best of conditions for these plants.

Laos is a very humid, tropical setting. The humidity in most modern homes is not really high enough to prompt the plant to full growth. This can be a good thing.

You want to keep the humidity high enough for Tetrasigma to prosper, but not necessarily to thrive.

If the humidity in your home is too low, you will notice the leaves becoming droopy and the plant looks lackluster.

Providing just the right amount of humidity keeps the plant looking good but does not spur it to rampant growth.

What Is An Ideal Setting For The Giant Grape Ivy?

If you live in a tropical setting, such as Laos or Hawaii, you have an ideal setting for Tetrastigma Voinierianum.

In fact, in these settings you may find yourself chopping it down with a machete as it grows with wild abandon in Laos and is considered potentially invasive in Hawaii. [source]

Chestnut and Vine is a big plant with heavy leaves and vines. To grow well in your home, pick a permanent space and outfit it with a sturdy trellis.

Choose a room with bright light, plenty of headroom and the potential for fairly high humidity.

If you have a large room with lots of light, such as a solarium, sun porch or greenhouse, you have a good place for a lizard vine plant.

You want a space that maintains a steady, warm temperature year round.

These tropical plants like temperatures in the 70° degrees Fahrenheit or more during the summer months and in the 60° degrees Fahrenheit during cold months.

Does The Chestnut Vine Have A Dormant Period?

Because these are tropical plants, they stay green year-round as long as they are kept sufficiently warm.

If the plant becomes too cold, it is more likely to die than to go dormant.

Do Chestnut Vines Produce Flowers?

The flowers of this plant are small, insignificant and unscented. They are similar to the flowers of a chestnut vine. In an indoor setting, a plant is very unlikely to bloom.

Where Can You Get The Tetrastigma Voinierianum Vine?

It can be hard to find this plant, even online! Your best bet is to get a cutting and start from scratch.

Join your local garden club and seek out an individual who has an established plant. Failing that, check with local nurseries and specialty exotic nurseries and catalogs.

How To Care For The Tetrastigma Vine?

When cuttings are well-established, keep them in a warm, humid setting with bright, indirect light.

Chestnut vine appreciates stability, so don’t move it around. Set up a permanent placement for it and leave it there.

Never let the temperature drop below 50° degrees Fahrenheit, as even this relatively mild temperature can cause the plant’s lush, tropical foliage to blacken and die.

During the warm months of summer (March-August) you will probably see a lot of growth. Keep the plant well-watered and feed using a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer mix on a monthly basis during the growing season.

If your plant’s leaves turn yellow, it usually is a sign the plant is undernourished. Increase the frequency of fertilizing rather than increasing the strength of your fertilizing solution.

To water effectively and avoid root rot, wait until the soil is nearly dry, then water thoroughly.

Pour the water over the surface of the soil and allow it to drain through the plant. Never allow the plant to sit in water as this is almost sure to cause root rot.

In September, reduce watering and stop feeding.

Allow the temperature in the room to drop somewhat (between 55°-60° degrees Fahrenheit) but take care to avoid letting the plant become too cold. Protect it from chilly drafts.

Monitor the soil on a weekly basis and water sparingly when it begins to dry out. Never let the soil dry out completely.

Very vigorous pruning techniques can be used to train the plant into a more bushy configuration, but pruning it during the growth season can result in damage to the plant.

In mid-to-late February, prune unruly vines and those that dropped their leaves. Don’t postpone this task because when the vines begin growing vigorously, heavy pruning can be detrimental.

When you prune your plant at winter’s end, evaluate whether or not it needs to be repotted. If it seems rootbound, repot before the growing season begins.

What Is The Biggest Challenge With Chestnut Vines?

Maintaining the right humidity levels and watering just the right amount can prove to be very challenging. If the plant has too little water and low humidity, it will lose leaves.

The same is true if it has too much water and excessive humidity.

Establishing a good watering schedule may be hit-and-miss at first, but once you have arrived at the right combination of watering and humidity, strive to maintain it consistently.

Use a soil monitor to keep close tabs on the soil moisture levels. A humidity monitor will help you when it comes to tweaking the environment for correct humidifying.

If very dry air is a problem in your home, you may need to purchase a humidifier, which will also make the environment healthier for you.

Is Chestnut Vine Prone to Pests And Problems?

If you give your plant plenty of room to grow, coupled with just the right amount of water, humidity, and food, you are unlikely to experience problems with it.

If you do overwater or underwater, you can experience root rot and problems with droopy leaves, as well as pests that tend to plague weakened plants.

If you see additional blobs of “cotton” on your plant, mealybugs have invaded. You can remove them by hand using a pair of tweezers.

Follow this up by easily wiping down the affected areas of your plant with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. Examine your plant frequently to check for mealybugs and other pests.

Quick defensive action can keep a small problem from spiraling out of control.

If your humidity level is too low and/or your plant is standing in a draft, it may attract spider mites. These pests can be washed off plants using a Neem oil solution or add insecticidal soap.

Keep them away by increasing humidity, blocking drafts and misting your plant daily. A weekly spraying with a mild neem oil solution will also discourage them.

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