How to Grow Dischidia Ruscifolia: The Million Hearts Plant

Dischidia ruscifolia or the Million Hearts Plant is probably not one you’ve heard of before but is steadily gaining in popularity, and it’s not difficult to see why.

This is a gorgeous plant, with densely-packed, heart-shaped leaves that tumble down from the pot like a leafy waterfall. 

It helps that this plant is not difficult to grow, and while it can resemble a fern from a distance, it is much less demanding,

Not sure if the million hearts plant is for you? Let’s take a look at everything you should know.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About The Million Hearts Plant

The Million Hearts plant is an epiphyte, similar to most orchids, which means that the plant does not grow in soil. 

Instead, it uses other plants as a support structure, usually tree trunks or branches, and gets the moisture it needs from the air as well as runoff from the plants it grows on.

It’s always useful to know if a plant is an epiphyte, as it changes the type of care the plant needs.

Hailing from Asia, the plant looks more complicated to care for, but in reality, it is very easy to look after.

If the gorgeous leaves weren’t enough on their own, you might be pleased to know that it also produces tiny starry white flowers. While miniscule, these flowers are incredibly fragrant, throwing their perfume all round the room and really making an impact.

How To Care For Dischidia Ruscifolia

Sunlight And Position

The million hearts plant will do well in a bright position, away from direct sunlight unless it is morning sunlight, and only for a few hours at most.

If a sunny windowsill is all you have, you can either pop this plant behind a sheer curtain to keep the light bright but not too strong, or simply place it further back from the window.

In bright light, the leaves adopt a reddish tinge which only adds to the plant’s beauty, but light that is too fierce will mean the plant will scorch.

Soil Requirements

Perhaps one of the most important care elements for this plant is getting the soil right. As you might guess with this plant being an epiphyte, normal soil will not cut it for this plant.

The roots have not adapted to live in soil, as the plants use them to anchor themselves to other plants, so planting them in normal soil will only suffocate the plant.

Instead, you should grow epiphytes in a very loose potting mix, where there will be plenty of sharp drainage and lots of oxygen.

You could use an orchid bark potting mix or a mix made of coco husk chips, or even commercial orchid potting mix.

Whatever type you go for, it’s a good idea to pre-soak the mixture in hot water for half an hour or so before you plant up your million hearts plant.

This will help properly hydrate the potting media, allowing enough moisture to get to the roots.

How To Water Dischidia

As the million hearts plant is an epiphyte, you can treat it exactly like you’d water a moth orchid (see also How To Water Orchids), as they have similar requirements.

You’ll want to allow the potting media to partially dry out in between watering, which will prevent root rot, but don’t let it dry out completely, as this can damage the plant.

You don’t want the plant to rot, so always check the moisture level before you water. The good news is that overwatering is difficult to do when you have such a sharply-draining soil mix as this, but you should always err on the side of caution anyway.

When you water the plant, make sure that you soak all the potting mix thoroughly, avoiding watering only the base of the plant.

Epiphytes do appreciate some misting on the leaves, too. This won’t increase the humidity more than for a couple of seconds, but it does help to mimic the plant’s natural growing conditions, which you should always aim to do.

Should You Feed The Million Hearts Plant?

It’s a good idea to give a million hearts plant a boost during the growing season in spring and summer. 

Feed the plant using a balanced houseplant fertilizer every couple of watering cycles (around every third watering or so), using the directions on the bottle.

Don’t over-fertilize your plant, as this will cause problems that are difficult to fix. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always avoid fertilizing a stressed plant, or a plant that’s sat in very dry soil, as this can burn the roots.

How To Propagate Million Hearts Plant

Dischidia ruscifolia is a very easy plant to propagate, which only adds to the plant’s attractiveness. 

One thing to note before you get started is that the sap inside the plant is an irritant, so wear gloves or wash your hands immediately after handling the plant.

Take several cuttings that are at least a couple of inches long, making sure to remove the bottom-most leaves. 

Place them in a clean jar of water in a bright and warm position, and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.

It may take a few weeks for roots to form, but once they are an inch long or so you can then pot them up in sharply-draining soil.

If the water gets cloudy or changes color, make sure to replace it.

Million Heart Leaves Turning Yellow

If the leaves on your million hearts plant are turning yellow, this is the plant’s way of telling you that something is wrong with the growing conditions. Well, it’s a sign that the plant is stressed, but it amounts to the same thing.

Usually, this plant’s leaves will turn yellow when there isn’t enough water, provided that the plant is in a sharply draining mix, such as orchid bark. 

It can be tricky to get the potting soil properly hydrated when it drains so readily, depriving the roots of the water they need. So some of the leaves will start to turn yellow as a result.

A good way to prevent this is to soak the potting media before you plant up your dischidia. After that, always thoroughly soak the mix when you water. 

Don’t be afraid of overwatering, as long as you let the mix partially dry out in between, there is no risk of root rot, as the potting mix lets the water drain pretty well, as that is its job.

Final Thoughts

The million hearts plant is a great way to add a lot of greenery to your home, and if you can get the watering schedule right, it is undemanding. 

It helps that it is so easy to grow, and if you’ve had trouble with ferns in the past, but you’d like a plant that looks similar but is less maintenance, this is the plant for you.

Just ensure that you water the plant very thoroughly each time you water, as this will help keep the plant hydrated, otherwise, the leaves can yellow.

If you do manage to overwater this plant, and it does start to suffer, take several cuttings as insurance, and then put the plant somewhere warm to recover, allowing the soil mix to dry out a little more than usual.

There’s no guarantee that you can save a plant that’s been overwatered, as most of the time by the time you notice the signs of stress it can be too late to do anything about it.

But the good news is that this plant propagates so readily that you’re not losing much at all, as you’ll still have more than one dischidia plant to care for, they will just be smaller than the original plant.

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