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Callisia Repens (Turtle Vine) Profile

Written by Iris

Aug 26 2021

Callisia Repens (Turtle Vine) Profile
Extend your indoor garden with the subtle beauty of Callisia Repens (Turtle Vine). Callisia Repens (Turtle Vine), this vibrant plant crawls along the surface of the soil, its stems eventually cascading along the edges of the container. Leaves an inch long are waxy and half fleshy. The green leaves on the purple stem and below add to the appeal of Callisia Repens (Turtle Vine) and become more noticeable in colder temperatures.

Callisia repens (Turtle vine) Picture

 Callisia

Callisia repens (Turtle vine) Info

Scientific Name Callisia repens
Common Names Bolivian Jew, Turtle Vine, Inch plant.
Family Commelinaceae
Origin  Mexico, Central and South America
Height Shoots can reach up to one meter in length.
Toxic No. Can be fed to rodents, reptiles, birds and cats.
Repotting Generally unnecessary.
 

Ecological Habits of Callisia repens (Turtle vine)

Callisia repens (Turtle vine plant or Inch Plant) is a perennial, ornamental, creeping herb with purplish stems, rooting at the nodes and often forming dense mats. The leaves are evergreen, simple, ovate with entire margins, waxy and measure up to 4 cm long and 2 cm wide, acute at the tip and rounded at the base and grayish green in color.
The lower surface of the leaf is purple. Colder temperatures have a tendency to bring out more purple. The stems have a watery sap and have nodes that are about 1 inch apart, hence it is called as inch plant. The blooms are small, and white in color. They are borne in clusters from the leaf axils. It blossoms from late spring to early fall. Turtle Vine can be used in container or pots, ground cover and hanging basket.

Callisia repens (Turtle vine) Distribution Area

Callisia repens (Turtle vine) is native to Mexico, Central and South America, Callisia repens is hardy in zones 8b and warmer. Callisia repens (Turtle vine) has become a weed in parts of Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hawaii. It is best to grow Callisia repens (Turtle vine) as a houseplant in these areas.
Callisia repens

How to Grow and Care for Callisia repens (Turtle vine)

How to Grow Callisia repens (Turtle vine)

  • With Seeds
To propagate callisia repens from seeds, take the seeds and plant in well-draining soil, but do not water immediately. Use two fingers to create a small opening in the center of the soil. The seedlings should be grown in hot, humid areas if you can help it. Also important to note, this plant grows very slowly, so you may have to wait quite a while for the seeds to become a full-grown plant.
  • With Cuttings
Honestly, so easy to propagate Callisia repens (Turtle vine) seems like cheating. Chop off a stem worth keeping from Callisia repens (Turtle vine). Pick one with at least some green leaves on it. Strip off the bottom 2 or 3 leaves and then shove the bare stem in soil up to where the leaves start - done.
Use a mix of potting soil and perlite. Give the soil a good soaking through (ideally with something yummy like Groconut to encourage that initial root growth), and let all excess water drain out.
Within weeks Callisia repens (Turtle vine) cuttings have rooted and are shooting out new leaves. Transporting them sucks a bit when it's time to pot up though. Try to do it in one clump if you can. Wait longer than you think to pot up, as Callisia repens (Turtle vine) roots are annoyingly fine, so the more growth, and more tangled up they are together, the easier it is to repot.
Callisia repens (Turtle vine) root so easily you could just prop straight in to the size of pot you'd want them in when big, but that needs a tonne more cuttings to cover the soil.
  • With Offsets
It can take a long time for the mother plant to produce an offset. An offset is a complete daughter plant produced asexually from the main plant. They are genetic clones. To propagate using offsets, use sharp scissors to cut the offset from the main plant, and clean off all the soil from the roots. Give it a few days to callous where you cut it, then you can place it in well-draining soil. Do not water immediately as the roots need a chance to acclimate to the new soil.
Callisia repens

How to Care for Callisia repens (Turtle vine)

  • Light
Callisia repens (Turtle vine) grows grows well in partial sun to partial shade. If the pot is placed at least 50 centimetres behind the window hot summer sun will be tolerated. During summer a spot in the garden or on the balcony is welcome. There Callisia repens (Turtle vine) has to be slowly accustomed to the sun, which is no longer filtered through a window.
  • Soil
Speaking of soil, the Callisia repens (Turtle vine) isn’t particular, so as long as you choose a potting soil that allows for proper drainage it should grow just fine. Add peat moss into a regular into potting soil to help enhance drainage. You could also add some additional perlite to your soil. A succulent soil mix should work well too.
  • Water
Water regularly but allow the topsoil to dry out before watering again. Water with lime-free water waiting for the soil to dry. Spray the plant every day with lime-free water in summer. The rest of the year spray 2 times a week. It is essential that you avoid overwatering the plant, and as it is succulent, it might cause root rot. The best rule to follow is to poke your finger in the topsoil and water only when you feel it dry to an inch deep.
  • Temperature and Humidity
The Callisia Repens prefers a warm and humid environment. Ideally, with temperatures above 16 degrees.
  • Fertilizer
Use a balanced fertilizer once in 6-8 weeks during the growing period. Follow the instructions at the label for dosage. Also, water the plant before the application, or it might burn the roots and cause leaves' yellowing.
  • Pruning
The Callisia repens will need to be trimmed regularly to help maintain the desired shape of your plant. It will hold a ‘bubble’ shape until the weight of its stems and leaves make it trail. Put your plant out in the summer rain, or rinsing it in the shower on occasion to remove any dust that my have accumulated.
Callisia repens

Uses of Callisia repens (Turtle vine)

Landscape Uses

Good for hanging baskets or in any situation where it can be allowed freedom to hang. It is especially favoured for deep purple winter colour. Callisia repens (Turtle vine) is very easy to grow, and the point above are simply to be followed if you want it to have a long happy, trouble-free life with you. Callisia repens (Turtle vine) makes a great hanging plant. Callisia repens (Turtle vine) can be used inside as a houseplant or outside as a dense, mat-like ground cover.

Feeding Uses

Reptile owners sometimes use the turtle vine to feed their pets, especially tortoises. When given in moderation, it is considered relatively safe despite the presence of calcium oxalate.
Callisia repens

Callisia repens (Turtle vine) Common Pests/Diseases

Callisia repens is resistant to most pests, although low humidity will attract red spider mites, who like to build their webs along the stem tips. Misting the foliage makes the plants less attractive to these pests.
Both cats and dogs may experience a red, itchy rash when coming into contact with the plant. Additionally, this plant is known to contain calcium oxalate crystals, which may pose a problem when ingested by most pets.
While not considered invasive in the US, the Bolivian Jew plant has caused problems in Australia and a few other countries. It may also be considered a weed when allowed to grow wild.

Callisia repens (Turtle vine) Companion Plants

Best planted on its own as it can overgrow other plants.