Looking for something different and elaborate to add to my home garden, I went for the Shingle plant, scientifically known as Rhaphidophora cryptantha. And it made an impressive change in my garden. It was the first climbing house plant in my garden too.
The plant develops short heart-shaped leaves, climbing and growing on any support they find. Given an aerial setup, they lie flat and may cover the ground on anything supporting them as they grow. It is a slow-growing plant, but I find out that its rate of growth depends on the area or space available to climb.
The good news about the shingle plant, especially for beginners, is that it is easy to grow and care for, so if you are planning on starting your garden, indoor or outdoor, you can start with the shingle plant.
How To Plant The Shingle Plant
The plant originates from South Asia and the African tropics, and we can replicate their natural conditions to grow them. You may require to use uncommon seeds or choose the commonly used stem cuttings to start developing the shingle plant. However, it would be best if you got the suitable condition for the plant to thrive, as discussed below:
The Shingle plant-originating habitat is a tropical environment, and they are usually shaded from direct sunlight growing under trees and shades. Grow your shingle plant under indirect sunlight (medium to bright), well placed under shadows. Direct sunlight will dry up the plant and bleach the leaves, causing discoloration.
When placed outdoors, it is best to put them under trees or shadows. And for indoors, you can use artificial lighting or fluorescent to provide the necessary light for the plant. I strategically place my shingle plant on a window where direct sunlight does not penetrate. And it has been climbing all over the wooden board.
The plant does well on a well-drain mixed soil, which is organically rich and acidic with Ph ranging from 6 to 7. A mixture of loamy soil, appropriately aerated and can drain water, will work well for you. Do not use soils that retain moisture, as too much water will cause the root to rot. The plant also thrives on loamy soil but on no condition should you pot with clay soil, for it retains moisture more than any other soil.
Watering The Shingle Plant
It would be best not to overwater the plant as this may cause rot on the root. Using your fingers to determine moisture is the best way to check if the soil is dry before watering. You can water the pot when one or two inches of your finger are dry.
Humidity and Temperature
The plant does well under high humidity at 60-80%, so you have to consider the humidity of your environment. Like me, you can invest in a humidifier to ensure you get suitable indoor conditions. It may also tolerate low humidity as low as 40%, but I will encourage you to get the humidity as high as required.
The shingle plant is tropical and requires high temperatures to thrive. A temperature range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit will help the plant grow fast. The plant may stop growing below 50 degrees Fahrenheit; we do not want this to happen. However, there is no need to invest in a heater, as your room temperature will do the work.
Caring for The Shingle Plant
With the suitable condition in place, you may provide as less care as possible for the plant. Caring for the Shingle plant is relatively easy, and you can care for the plant in the following ways:
The Shingle plant requires rich humus soil to grow well, and you should apply fertilizers to feed the plant monthly. You can use any fertilizers suitable for house plants to provide and keep the soil rich. The best time to apply fertilizers on the soil is early spring or summer.
Pruning and Grooming
Besides removing dead leaves or stems, the shingle plant does not require much pruning and grooming. I rarely touch this plant in my garden for months when I do my regular pruning and grooming.
Repotting of the Shingle Plant
Unlike plants that have deep roots, you may wait two to three years before repotting the shingle plant. And you may have to look for other signs, such as yellowing and wilting of the leaves to change the soil and go for a bigger pot.
Aside from repotting, I change my board whenever the plants start climbing beyond them to give them room to grow. Yes, you will have to keep an eye on the rate at which they rise above the board or support and change to one with increased height. The processes are unmounting and mounting the plant on a new stand.
You must be careful not to damage and cut the plant while unmounting. You can unmount and mount while repotting and without changing the pot.
Propagation of Shingle Plant
The propagation of the shingle plant can be done with stem cuttings. And we are going to show you how to achieve the proper propagation of the plant.
Propagation of shingle plants can be done in three ways: stem cutting on soil or mix, stem cutting on water, and seed propagation. However, stem cutting in water takes longer and is much riskier; thus, it is not a commonly used form of propagating the plant, while the use of seeds is very rare, and I will advise you to refrain from contemplating that method.
For the propagation using the stem on soil, it is best to do it in early springs, and you will need the following materials: Potting mix, Shears, Nursery pots, and optionally rooting hormones. Follow the steps below to propagate the shingle plants:
- Seek a healthy stem and cut it with sterilized shears below the nodes.
- If you want to use a rooting hormone, apply it at this stage on the cut or edge planted on the soil.
- Then mix the appropriate soil mixture in your nursery pot.
- Place the stem cutting on the mix and cover firmly.
- In low humidity, protect the soil and the plant by covering it with a plastic bag.
- Place in a warm place with indirect sunlight.
- You can transplant your plant after it has rooted for about two months. You should expect rooting of the plant in the first two weeks, but you can let it root for up to a month before you move it to a permanent place.
Pest and Its Control
The Shingle plant is prone to scale insects and spider mites, some common house pests. Monitor the plants and pick these insects as you notice them, for they can cause damage to the leaves.
Frequently Asked Question
Is The Shingle Plant Toxic?
The shingle plant is toxic to pets and humans because it contains substances that cause severe oral pains and irritations, difficulty swallowing, drooling, skin irritation, swelling of the lips and mount, redness in the mouth, etc.
Is the Shingle Plant Rare?
No, it is not rare and commonly found in indoor and outdoor gardens all over America.