Dischidia ruscifolia “Million Hearts”

Dischidia ruscifolia

Dischidia ruscifolia

Dischidia is a genus of plants closely related to the Hoya genus, as are the better-known Ceropegia. All belong to the Aseclepiadacea family, commonly known as milkweed because of the white sap exuded from cut stems. The Dischidia is a far less flamboyant plant than its cousins and not everyone will appreciate its more subtle charms. Dischidia ruscifolia “million hearts” is one of the most appealing with its hard heart-shaped leaves and elegant arching growth. The leaves are a mid-green colour, less than 1cm long and very succulent and hard, almost like small beads. If the plant is grown in bright sun and grown quite ‘hard’, the leaves are supposed to take on an attractive reddish hue but I haven’t had the chance to experiment yet.

Dischidia ruscifolia

Dischidia ruscifolia

Flowers appear when the plant is still young, mine is just a small cutting and flowering now in December. The flowers are very small, about 5mm, white and easy to miss, appearing singly, along the stem, with no great fanfare, or smell. For those who appreciate things in miniature, they are also very cute, resembling tiny upturned vases, with 5 pointed petals around the opening.

Like many of the plants I am growing, this is not one which needs a great deal of care. The biggest danger is over-watering in the winter. I grow mine in bright rather than direct light, although you may want to experiment with stronger sun, as above. I water only when the pot is very light. This is not a particularly fussy plant in terms of the actual type of soil but it does need to be well-draining. Orchid compost is often recommended for Hoya, which has a very similar habitat, and so I chose to use it for this plant too, with the addition of some perlite. This medium does dry out quite quickly, even at this time of year, and I might omit the perlite next time I repot.