Dischidia ovata: A Fruity Guide to the Watermelon Dischidia

Named for its deep green oval leaves with white venation, the Watermelon Dischidia really looks the part!

Native to SE Asia and Australia, this beautiful trailing plant is a lesser-known relative of the popular Hoya houseplant, but the Dischidia genus has a lot to offer, and people are starting to take notice.

Dischidia ovata is a true epiphytic plant that’s just at home in the rainforest canopy as it is in a tropical terrarium.

These cascading vines look stunning when mounted high in a terrarium (or a pot) and allowed to float their way around. They’re not an overly demanding plant and can make an easy addition to most tropical setups.

Dischidia ovata

Where to Buy Dischidia ovata

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

Shop on Etsy

Watermelon Dischidia Care & Growth

Plant TypeVine, epiphyte
LightingBright, indirect light
Temperature55-90°F (12-32°C)
WateringRegular, even moisture
HumidityMedium – high humidity (40-90%)
Growth2-3 inches high, 3+ feet long

Dischidia ovata Watering

The Watermelon Dischidia is a tropical plant, so unsurprisingly, it loves regular moisture.

However, just to keep you on your toes, it’s also an epiphyte. Meaning it’s used to growing on trees and branches above the ground and will not tolerate sitting in wet substrate.

Naturally, good drainage is going to be the solution here, safeguarding your plant from root rot.

watering dischidia ovata in pot
To avoid swamping the roots of my Watermelon Dischidia, I chose a pot with drainage holes and a tray so any excess water could easily drip out.

For best results, try thoroughly soaking the plant when watering but allowing it to drain fully, too.

In a terrarium, the substrate should feel moist to the touch but never wet.

Substrate & Soil

The need for adequate drainage is arguably more important when choosing a soil or substrate for your plant. After all, in the wild, it’s a soil-less epiphyte.

So, if you’re planting it terrestrially, the most important thing is that the substrate provides lots of aeration and allows water to drain effectively to keep those roots happy.

holding watermelon dischidia with exposed roots above a terrarium
Dischidia ovata has quite shallow roots – one of the calling cards of a natural epiphyte.

Use plenty of chunky elements like orchid bark, pumice, lava rock, and charcoal in your mix to achieve this.

Of course, Dischidia ovata also does well when mounted high onto a terrarium background or hardscape.

Lighting

As it would be in its native rainforest canopy environment, Dischidia ovata thrives in bright, dappled sunlight.

Assuming you’re in the Northern Hemisphere like me, a great way to achieve this would be by popping it on a North or East-facing windowsill. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, the reverse would be true, making South or West-facing your best bet.

Bright, indirect light is the goal standard here; and it’ll be sure to tell you if you’re not providing this.

Too little light and your already slow-growing plant will pretty much grind to a halt, potentially with some yellowing in the leaves.

terrarium under grow light
I found the need to boost my Dischidia ovata terrarium with a grow light in the darker months.

Under direct sunlight, the leaves can turn red, which is considered to be a symptom of heat stress – so consider that a red flag and move it to a shadier spot.

Another red flag? A family member who leaves your prize terrarium out in direct sun when you’re on vacation…

red, sunburnt watermelon dischidia
You can see how sunburnt the Dischidia is! 😩😂

Temperature & Humidity

Despite being a true tropical plant, the Watermelon Dischidia is a hardier plant than you’d expect!

A good rule of thumb here is if you’re comfortable, your plant will be too.

As long as you keep things above 55°F and 40% humidity, it does just fine under regular household conditions.

That said, you’ll really see it thrive in a hot and humid environment, so why not take this opportunity to build a closed terrarium?

huge dischidia ovata plant in plant market
Check out this big beauty we saw enjoying the tropical conditions in a plant market in Thailand!

Watermelon Dischidia Growth & Flowers

Dischidia ovata will produce two new watermelon leaves along each stem at a time in a beautiful trailing growth habit.

pinkish watermelon dischidia new growth
Not to be mistaken with sunburn, new growth may come with a reddish tinge, too. So don’t panic if you see this. They’ll turn green as they mature.

To really make the most of this pattern, it’s best to mount it high so that you can enjoy its beautiful foliage.

If it’s in a pot, you can place it on a high shelf to let it cascade down.

new growth on watermelon dischidia growing vertically
Though my Watermelon Dischidia has decided to take a more vertical route for now…

In my experience, it’s a slow grower initially, but when properly established under ideal conditions, this plant will really get going. Feel free to trim as you deem appropriate to keep it in shape.

And if you weren’t already in love with this plant, it’s also known to bloom in summer. Its discreet bell-shaped yellow/pink flowers are gorgeous and quite reminiscent of its Hoya cousins.

I haven’t seen any yet, but my fingers are crossed!

Dischidia ovata Propagation

As with many trailing vines, propagating Dischidia ovata is incredibly easy because it roots at every node.

watermelon dischidia in terrarium with rooting nodes
You can see the little roots popping out along the vine

Meaning you can take any stem cutting that has a viable root node, and it should happily root up when wrapped in a little sphagnum moss.

In a terrarium, it’s one of those great species that you can place where you’d like it to grow (just laid on top of substrate or moss) and let it establish itself there in the humid environment.

Varieties & Similar Plants

Dischidia is an often overlooked genus of trailing plants, closely related to the much more popular Hoya plants. Dischidia ruscifolia (Million Hearts Plant), Dischidia nummularia (String of Nickels), and the lesser-known Dischidia astephana are all great choices for terrariums too.

string of nickels trailing with hand
The String of Nickels is lovely, but I prefer the watermelon markings of the ovata.

There are other varieties of D. ovata, including Dischidia ovata ‘Round Leaf’, which (unsurprisingly) has rounded leaves rather than oval.

Alternatively, you can always stay on the watermelon train and go for the Trailing Watermelon Begonia, Pellionia repens.

⚡️Get 10% off our store! Click here
This is default text for notification bar