Dischidia nummularia (String Of Nickels)

String Of Nickels/ Button Orchid

Dischidia nummularia

Named for its creeping vines of thick round leaves, the string of nickels plant is a really unique tropical terrarium species. Native to a wide variety of East Asian countries, in the wild Dischidia nummularia is an epiphyte and lives in the canopy – wrapped around tree trunks and cascading off branches. So, naturally it’s going to look best in a terrarium when mounted high on the background (or larger driftwood branches).

The waxy, succulent leaves are usually a pale green colour but can sometimes take on a bronze/yellowy sheen. This plant species loves a hot and humid terrarium environment, and will do great in a setup with lots of hardscape to climb.

At a Glance

Where to Buy Dischidia nummularia

See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links). 

Terrarium Plant Guide

String of Nickels Care & Growth

Lighting

The string of nickles is used to periodic dappled sunlight coming through the tree canopy. It can handle brief stints of direct sunlight through the day, but growing it in a bright spot with lots of indirect light is best.

Watering

In the wild – attached to trees and branches – Dischidia nummularia would be periodically soaked from rainfall, but then experience periods of drying off. Its succulent leaves help it to hold on to moisture during those periods, and it’s why growers often recommend letting this plant dry out between waterings.

That being said, it’s still a tropical plant and enjoy consistent light moisture, so it’ll do just fine in a terrarium environment as long as it’s mounted appropriately or is planted in a substrate with excellent drainage.

Substrate

As a natural epiphyte, Dischidia nummularia is used to having lots of airflow and minimal moisture around its roots. If you’re going to plant this species in a substrate, you’ll need to recreate those qualities as best you can. A chunky, well-aerated and well-draining mix is essential to keep this plant happy. Both orchid bark and coconut husks are good starting bases.

Temperature & Humidity

This tropical plant species thrive in hot and humid terrarium conditions, but it’s not overly sensitive. As long as it’s kept above 15°C and has a reasonable humidity level (which is so easy to achieve in a closed terrarium) it should do just fine.

Growth

Dischidia nummularia is a climber at heart, and if it’s not mounted high it will readily grow its way up there!

The vines can grow for several feet outdoors so you can expect to need to trim these back every now and again, though they’re very easy to manage in a terrarium.

Propagation

Propagating the string of nickles is super easy. They readily form aerial roots from regular nodes along the vine,  so you can take a stem cutting and practically have a viable plant already.

Varieties & Similar Plants

Of the over 80 known Dischidia species, there are a number of choices that make excellent terrarium plants, with Dischidia ovata (the watermelon dischidia) probably being the most commonly seen in terrariums.

 

Common Problems

Overall, Dischidia nummularia is a relatively easy plant species to grow. The fastest way to kill this plant is to have it sitting in a soggy substrate, but you have an appropriate mix then it’ll be difficult to underwater or overwater this in a terrarium environment.