Callisia fragrans is also famous as a basket plant. It is a member of the wandering Jew family. People grow it for its sweet smell and for its medicinal properties. As we all know indoor plants purify indoor air. Basket plants (Callisia fragrans) also reduce indoor air pollution.
The best part is it is easy to grow in baskets with little care and less maintenance. Callisia basket plant is a natural antibacterial and antimicrobial plant.
In Europe, its leaves are used to cure stomach pain, upset stomach, inflammation, etc. You can dry its leaves and use them to make Callisia tea.
Without wasting time let’s know how you can grow and care for it at home.
Preparing to grow basket plants
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|Common Name||Basket plant, Callisia Fragrans|
|Height||6 inches to 1.5 feet|
|Spread||3 to 5 feet|
|Pest||Mealybugs, Scale Insects|
|Disease||Only Root rot when overwatered|
About the Callisia fragrans
The plant is native to Mexico but is commonly grown in Southern parts of America and in West Indies. It is naturally found in hills of Southern USA and some parts of Asia. It needs warm weather to grow healthy and to its full size. But this does not mean you cannot grow callisia in little cooler parts of the country like South California.
In bright light, leaves lay down like they are protecting the stem from sun rays. In a partially sunny location, they stand upright and resembles a Dracaena.
Its stems get affected by the root rot because when the plant grows big in size. The roots also grow and touch the soil of the pot. Due to continuously touching the wet soil they get affected by fungus disease.
Callisia fragrans is also called the octopus plant because it develops runner stems. Later it forms a cluster of leaves on them. You can cut them and grow another Callisia fragrans.
If exposed to sharp sun rays the leaves of the plant turn purple in color. But if you keep in under indirect bright light. The leaves will stay green in color.
Caring for the Callisia basket plant
This plant does not need any care if it gets proper water and grows in the perfect temperature range. It can handle all types of care and maintenance routines. But if you like to grow it to its full size. Then you have to follow the below growing basket plant rules.
Sun & Temperature
It is native to warm weather country and is a subtropical plant. This means it needs warm weather to grow. The ideal temperature is 70 F or above. On winter days it can tolerate the temperature between 55 to 65 F only for 50 to 60 days. Then you need to increase the room temperature.
Winter is its rest time and spring and summer is its active growing stage.
8 to 10 hours of daylight is a must for the plant. If you want purple leaves then you have to make sure the plant gets 4 to 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. It can also be grown in indirect bright light but will not produce purple leaves.
Grow it in the container because you can move the container to a sunny or partially sunny location. It is also easy to change the place of the plant in frost.
Container plants are easy to save to cold weather days.
Water & Humidity
Make a perfect water routine for the plant because it needs even moisture for growth. Adult plants can tolerate the dryness in the soil. But in the initial growing stage, it needs more water to produce green foliage.
Always check the soil before watering. You know how to do a fingertip test. If you accidentally give it excess water. Do not worry the draining hole will save your plant. Move the container to a warm location the excess water will dry quickly.
As I said, it is a hard plant so do not worry about the humidity. The humidity level that we have inside our homes is perfect for the plant to grow. It needs a low humidity level in the air.
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Gritty loam soil is ideal to grow basket plants. You can use any soil that is light in weight means lose soil. For best growth, you can add organic compost to the soil. This increases the water retention power of the soil. Also, the plant needs fewer fertilizers when the compost is there in the soil.
As long as soil pH is concerned keep it between the 6 to 7 pH.
Do not use high nitrogen fertilizers this can burn the plant. Use any normal low power fertilizer like 3-3-3. The fertilizer must be specially made for the flowering plants. Use liquid fertilizer instead of powdered fertilizer. Do not use vegetable fertilizer on this plant.
It is best to use slow-releasing fertilizer. Remember it does not need a high percentage of Nitrogen. The benefit of using slow-releasing fertilizer is it keeps the continuous chain of nutrients. Plants that get sufficient water and nutrients always grow better.
You can grow the plant from the stem cutting. In fact, the stems that touch the potting soil starts developing air roots. If these stems are cut and planted in the potting soil. They grow like the mother plant.
The good news is you don’t need to spend money on buying rooting hormone for the propagation. Rooting hormone is required for hardwoods. And this plant has all soft stems with air roots. Just have the cutting and plant it in moist soil. Your planted cutting will grow into a big plant if you keep the soil moist.
It is not necessary the air root will get bigger and become primary roots. The roots can develop anywhere from the stem.
If you have a 5 to 6 inches wider pot then you will not need repotting for the Callisia plant. Generally, choose the 2 inches wider pot than the existing pot for the up-potting.
Another important thing is keeping the potting soil fresh. You need to change the potting soil once a year or at the time of repotting.
Note: This plant looks and grows well in hanging baskets.
Pruning Callisia fragrans
Pruning is required to keep the plant in the correct size. Trim of the tips if you feel the stems grow too long in size. If required thin the excess growth of the plant.
You can also remove air roots if they are overgrown and destroy the beauty of the plant.
Growing Problems and Diseases
Callisia fragrans do not get affected by plant diseases easily. But overwatering can lead to root rot. This is a deadly condition for plants and needs to get fixed on time. To save your plant from root rot do not give extra water. If it is already affected by it then stop watering the plant and change the soil.
If necessary, move the pot to a sunny location so that the excess water evaporates quickly.
Overwatering also causes brown leaves. The first sign of overwater is brown leaf tips.
Mealybugs and Scale insects are common on unhealthy Callisia fragrans plants. Do not use rubbing alcohol and cotton cloth method. Alcohol can damage the air roots.
Use an organic insecticidal spray like neem oil spray. There are many organic neem sprays on the market. They do not put a negative effect on plants as well as on humans.