Pellionia repens – recently reclassified to Procris repens – is a gorgeous and super easy-to-grow vine.
It’s often called the “Trailing Watermelon Begonia” despite not being a Begonia at all (or a watermelon for that matter) for its Begonia-like asymmetrical leaf growth and deep watermelon rind colours.
This gorgeous vine comes in several varieties, many of which have found homes as a houseplant thanks to their lush foliage and rich green, red and purple colours.
It’ll grow under most household conditions, but it really thrives in a warm and humid terrarium.
If you’re looking for an easy vine to fill out your terrarium or home, you can’t go wrong with this one!
The Watermelon Begonia – An Overview
Native to Southeast Asia, Pellionia repens is an often overlooked but also seemingly over-named plant…
Like a teenager brainstorming a cool new band name, this plant also goes by; Polynesian Ivy, Rainbow Vine, Trailing Watermelon Begonia and now the new classification Procris repens.
Not to mention, I still can’t tell for sure if Pellionia pulchra is the same plant. I don’t think they are, but the names seem to be used
mistakenly interchangeably (if anyone knows, please comment below).
Okay, enough with the names. Whatever this beautiful plant is called it’s worthy of our attention!
The dark, lance-shaped leaves with creamy mint green centres provide so much wonderful contrast to a scene – and this versatile species can fit a variety of scenes and conditions.
It’s able to form a thick interwoven foliage mat, climb terrarium backgrounds and hardscape, or delicately trail from a hanging basket.
Let’s get into how to grow it and where to find it.
Trailing Watermelon Vine Care & Growth
At a Glance
|Lighting||Medium – high indirect light|
|Watering||Regular, even moisture|
|Humidity||Medium – high humidity (40-90%)|
|Growth||2-5 inches tall, but potentially much longer trailing.|
Pellionia repens is pretty forgiving when it comes to lighting, but it’ll do best under bright, indirect light.
Definitely one to keep out of direct sunlight through.
As a tropical understory plant that’s used to weaving around the rainforest floor, the Trailing Watermelon Begonia is not designed to live through harsh sunlight.
The deep green colours of the plant hint at it’s ability to withstand lower light settings (more natural colour = more chlorophyll) but maximising that indirect light brightness will help keep those colours rich and vibrant.
North-facing windows are ideal here for maximum natural sunlight without risk of scorching the leaves.
Keep Pellionia repens evenly moist at all times to keep it healthy and healthy.
So, the substrate should be slightly damp to the touch but never completely saturated. This water-loving vine is still prone to root rot if it’s left sat in a soggy substrate for too long.
Growing in a pot, this is easily managed by simply using a pot with a drainage hole. Water thoroughly until the water comes out, then allow the top inch or so to dry before watering again.
Alternatively, maintaining that consistent moisture is especially easy in terrarium conditions. With the right substrate (as outlined below) you can create a closed system that’s always going to have plenty of moisture available.
Substrate / Soil
In reality, the Trailing Watermelon Begonia isn’t overly fussy about what it’s planted in, and should grow readily in most tropical substrate mixes.
Something with plenty of water retention to supply that all important moisture, but still with enough drainage to ward off root rot problems.
I lean towards a coco coir base with supplementary orchid bark or perlite (plus earthworm castings for slow-release organic nutrients).
Check out my Terrarium Substrate Guide for more details.
Temperature & Humidity
This tropical vine loves warmth and humidity (don’t we all?), but it’s somewhat forgiving on both parts.
You can certainly expect Pellionia repens to live its best life in a summery sealed terrarium, but don’t let that stop you from trying it around the home too.
I’m sure it’ll love the bathroom almost as much.
The only real thing to watch out for is low temperatures. This vine isn’t frost hardy by any means, and will quickly start to suffer as temperatures drop below 50°F (10°C).
So, treat it like a pet – keep it warm and well watered at all times for best results.
The versatility of this low-growing vine cannot be understated.
As a terrarium plant, Pellionia repens tends to stay fairly small. Opting to increase its foliage density more so than its length, but it’s still a quick grower – so you can expect to need to trim it back every now and again.
Pinching the stems as they grow a good way to keep it compact.
Alternatively, as a houseplant – with all the right conditions and space to trail/dangle – Pellionia repens can go real crazy with its growth.
The Trailing Watermelon Begonia is very easy to propagate thanks to the fact that it roots at every node.
Simply take a rooted stem cutting from where the vine meets the substrate and you’ll have a viable new plant. Easy!
You can pop that into water until it develops roots, or the high moisture of a terrarium makes for ideal conditions too (you likely don’t even have to plant it, just lay it directly on the substrate).
Varieties & Similar Plants
The Pellionia genus may not be super popular, but it has a few gorgeous plants to offer for terrariums.
Pellionia pulchra is another great terrarium vine with smaller, rounder leaves and a shingling growth habit that tightly wraps around its host. To be honest, this is what a lot of people seem to call Pellionia repens but you really can’t go wrong with either of them.
Then, Pellionia argentea is the all-green version of these vines with heavily puckered leaves.
Goes Well With
This moisture-loving vine is going to pair really well with a lot of different tropical plants, but I think the soft foliage of ferns can really help these dynamic leaf shapes pop.
- Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
- Lemon Button Fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia)
- Blue Star Fern (Phlebodium aureum)
Frequently Asked Questions
Pellionia repens can climb to a small extent as it weaves its way around (particularly in smaller environments like terrariums) but it’s not a true climbing species. There’s no reason to try to train this around a moss pole or similar.
Pellionia repens can flower with small green blooms, but they’re not common and not overly attractive.