Dischidia nummularia is an air plant and a succulent perennial which belongs to the Apocynaceae plant family and that grows natively in India, China, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Australia.
Commonly known as Button Orchid, Button Plant, String of Nickels or Pebble Beach Plant, this ornamental plant is an epiphytic climber plant that grows on the surface of other plants and derives moisture and nutrients from air, rain, water or from debris accumulated around it.
People grow it for its attractive ornamental leaves that make this plant suitable for hanging baskets. The String of Nickels is a great plant to grow in your home but it is important to know that it is toxic to both humans and pets if ingested. Also, it is important to handle this plant with care as it produces a milky substance that can irritate your skin. So, it is recommended to wear protective gloves when touching this plant and to keep it in a spot that is out of your furry companions’ reach.
|Dischidia nummularia/Dischidia gaudichaudii Decne.
|Button Orchid, Button Plant, String of Nickels
|up to 50 cm (20 inches) long
|Bright indirect sunlight
|chunky, well-drained soil, orchid soil
|Tropical Asia, Australia
About String of Nickels
- Dischidia nummularia is also referred to as String of Nickels as its leaves are firm and round and resemble long strands of coins.
- This exotic ornamental plant grows natively in Tropical Asia and Australia and although it may seem to be a rare plant, what it actually is is uncommon. The native habitat of String of Nickels includes swamp forests, coastal forests, and rainforests.
- The String of Nickels is an epiphytic plant, which means that it grows on the surfaces of other organisms and picks up nutrition from its immediate surroundings. You might be tempted to think that because it grows on other plants, it might be a parasitic plant. This is a common misconception as epiphytic plants are not parasites because they do not harm their hosts.
- Gardeners around the world enjoy growing these vining succulent plants and appreciate them for their easy-going nature.
- The best thing about String of Nickels is their attractive green foliage, and it is not surprising that this plant is considered a distinctive tropical terrarium species.
- There are over 80 known Dischidia species. Some of them are excellent terrarium plants such as Dischidia ovata, which is also known as Watermelon Dischidia and happens to be one of the most commonly seen plants in terrariums. However, the most popular variety of Dischidia is Dischidia vidalia or the Ant plant, which is more common in Asia.
- Dischidia nummularia ‘Ideaminubu’ is a very interesting variety that is commonly referred to as Pangolin kisses or Dragon Jade. The Pangolin kisses variety produces succulent trailing or stacking vines that look quite interesting.
String of Nickels features: An Overview
- Dischidia nummularia is a slender vining and climbing epiphytes that can form dense in its native habitat where it usually grows on trees. This plant has small coin-shaped, green leaves. Their green colour may sometimes take on a bronze or yellowy sheen. The leaves are thick and have the texture of a succulent plant. Plentiful leaves grow on branches that are like rounded coins attached to a cord. The leaves are 10x10x10 mm in size.
- The flowers are found in beautiful umbels which contain from one to five flowers each. The colours may vary from white to off-white coloured. They may not seem so attractive because of their waxy appearance. At maturity, Dischidia nummularia flowers turn into seed-pod and give off seeds.
- The String of Nickels pertains to the evergreen herbaceous species which means that its foliage stays functional throughout the entire year. The leaves stay on branches all year round. In autumn the plant does not lose all of its foliage at once.
- If you grow your Dischidia nummularia plant indoors, it grows up to 3 meters, while if you grow it outdoors, the length may increase. The height of the plant depends on whether you train it to climb. If it has support to grow upon, the String of nickels will increase in height.
- It is important to know that winter dormancy is inevitable for this plant. When the temperature and light levels lower below the normal range, Dischidia nummularia does not grow anymore and enters a resting stage. During this period, the plant does not need any fertilizing agent.
- Dischidia nummularia a.k.a the String of Nickels is a great companion plant for ornamentals with similar growth requirements such as Aglaonema, Dieffenbachia, and Ficus.
Growing String of Nickels
If you decide that you want to grow a Dischidia nummularia plant you will need to know a few aspects about it. As it is an epiphyte, the String of Nickels is used to having lots of airflow and minimal moisture around its roots. If you will plant this species in a substrate, try to recreate those qualities as best as you can. A chunky, well-aerated and well-draining mix is essential to keep this plant healthy. You can use it as a base orchid bark and coconut husks. You can likewise wrap the roots in sphagnum moss and arrange the entire plant onto wood or other surfaces.
As mentioned above, the String of Nickels has tropical origins, so it will thrive in hot and humid terrarium conditions. The plant is not very sensitive, thus if you ensure it with a constant temperature above 15 degrees Celsius and a reasonable humidity level the plant should develop very well.
Pruning is an important step in the care routine of your plant. Lightly prune your Dischidia nummularia plant by trimming and cutting only at the beginning of the growing season. This way you will allow the new leaves and branches to rapidly grow. If you decide to cut the old plant’s foliage in the winter, when the plant is still in the dormancy period, you need to know that the new leaves will require a longer period of time to grow.
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When growing Dischidia nummularia, you will have to organize the caring routine according to the season. In spring the plant begins to grow again so they will require much water so you can soak the pots as there will no longer be any risk of rot.
In the spring these plants need to be placed in partial shade, you can even leave them out in the rain in order to provide them with the needed water. In summer the plant will tolerate heavy rain, but it can deal with dry soil too. If you keep them outdoors during the summer months, they will tolerate the hot weather as long as you keep them in strongly filtered light which besides will encourage them to flower. In autumn you can keep them outdoors as long as the temperatures at night are over 10 degrees Celsius. During winter the plant only needs temperatures over 12 degrees Celsius and plenty of light. And you will have to be more cautious to keep them dry, because if there are damp cool conditions during their resting period, there may appear fungal infections.
Pests and diseases that may affect your Dischidia nummularia are the ones that usually attack other succulents and exotic houseplants. When growing a String of Nickels, keep an eye out for root rot, spider mites and mealybugs. It is important to be careful with these pathogens and pests as they can kill your plant and may spread to other plants. To get rid of bugs and other unwanted guests, you can use products that are specially made for that purpose such as neem oil. Adjusting the watering schedule is also another aspect that you will have to take care of if there is any sign which indicates that the plant has too much water.
Planting String of Nickels
If you purchased your Dischidia nummularia in a pot it probably has a quality potting mix and you only have to take care of it by watering and grooming it as needed. The epiphytes generally do not need to be moved in another pot. If you however need to repot your String of Nickels plant start with a good quality bark mix.
First, choose a pot with drainage holes or just drill some holes if there are none. Next, prepare the container by filling it with potting mix up to 5cm from the rim of the planter. Make a medium hole in the mix, slightly larger than the root ball with the help of your hand or you may use a towel. Insert the plant and press the soil firmly around the roots so that you cover the root ball. Water the plant thoroughly immediately after you have potted it in order to give it a good start. You will have to take into consideration that at heart, Dischidia is a climber and if it’s not mounted high it will rapidly grow its way up. The branches will grow at least 3 meters outdoors so you may have to trim them from time to time.
When it comes to fertilizer, if you chose to mount your plant on a surface and not in a pot, the best fertilizer is the liquid one. These types of plants absorb plant food through the leaves. Choose a product that has a nutritional balance of 20-20-20 and dilute it to a quarter of the recommended strength. The slow-release fertilizer is the best for pot plants. Use a product with a 20-20-20 nutritional balance and sprinkle it at the base of the plant.
Watering String of Nickels
As mentioned above, Dischidia nummularia resembles succulent plants, so it is also a fairly drought-tolerant plant. Its thick stem and leaves retain water, so if you forget to water it for a period, it can take care of its own.
As a rule, the String of Nickels plant needs to be watered once a week and regularly misted in the summer months. It also needs humidity, which must be above 75%. But this plant needs to stay dry between waterings.
As a tip, is better to underwater it, rather than overwater it as this may kill the plant by root rot. In winter you can water it once every 10 days. But take care to always water it thoroughly by submerging it in water for 2-3 minutes. Another tip is to avoid using cold water or tap water because the chemicals and water temperature would stress the plant. Try to use as much as possible rainwater or dechlorinated water. Dischidia nummularia will suffer considerably in the dry environment of northern centrally heated homes during winter months. If you want to keep your plant healthy in winter, try to place it in a room with lots of humidity.
Propagating String of Nickels
The propagation process is a simple one. All you have to do is to use the stem cuttings of a well-established and healthy plant. Always take care to sterilize the tools to be used before propagation. Let these stem cuttings aside for several hours before you let them root in sphagnum moss which is moist enough. In general, the roots emerge in approximately 2 to 3 weeks. You can also expect the plant to get established within that period too. Once the stem cuttings are already properly rooted, it is recommended to report them as soon as possible into an orchid potting mix, a shredded coco choir or shredded bark. After that, you can create a normal caring routine for your Dischidia nummularia.
You can also propagate the String of Nickels plant with the help of seeds. You can get the seeds right from the flowers if you already have a mature Dischidia nummularia plant. The flowers turn into seed pods and on maturing they burst. In order to save the seeds you will have to cover the seed pods with a small piece of cloth and all the seeds will collect into it. Once you have the seeds you can plant them into a pot and watch your new plants grow.
Dischidia nummularia is a lovely vine that you should definitely add to your home collection of plants. It looks awesome in hanging baskets because its long branches hold uncountable green, round, coin-like, tiny leaves.
If you chose to add it to your plant collection, you will fall in love with it as it is a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow plant that can beautify any corner of your home with its interesting appearance and cute foliage. And because its growth is in most cases slow, it makes it perfect for not having to continually prune it.
The String of Nickels plant will not require a lot of attention and it will thrive as long as you provide it with plenty of indirect light, some water every now and then, and plenty of room for its vines to grow. The plant’s vines can reach impressive lengths, but at the same time, the plant isn’t particularly fast-growing, so you don’t have to worry about pruning it very often.
Even though you will not have to cut it very often, when you do, you will have to be cautious, as it produces a milky substance which may irritate your skin. Thus, wear gloves when you prune your Dischidia nummularia plant.
Are you growing Dischidia nummularia a.k.a String of Nickels? Let us know in the comments!
String Of Nickles FAQS
Is string of nickels rare?
While the String of Nickels (Dischidia nummularia) is not as commonly found in general plant stores as some other houseplants, it’s not considered extremely rare. However, among plant enthusiasts, it is sought after for its unique appearance and growth habit. Its availability might vary depending on your region and the specific nurseries or plant shops around you.
What is the meaning of string of nickels?
The name “String of Nickels” derives from the plant’s growth habit and appearance. This epiphytic plant has round, flat leaves that resemble nickels, and they grow in a trailing manner, much like a “string” or “chain” of nickels. As with many plants, the name is descriptive of its physical appearance rather than having a deeper symbolic meaning.
Can string of nickels live in water?
The String of Nickels is not a true aquatic plant and cannot live submerged in water for extended periods. However, like many other plants, it can be propagated in water. If you take cuttings and place them in water, they may develop roots, which can later be transferred to soil or a suitable growing medium. But for long-term growth and health, they should be planted in a proper growing medium rather than kept in water.
What kind of soil do string of nickels like?
Since Dischidia nummularia is an epiphyte (a plant that grows on other plants but is not parasitic), it prefers a light, airy, and well-draining soil mix. A mix designed for orchids or a combination of potting soil with added perlite, bark, or charcoal can work well. This ensures that the roots get good air circulation and prevents them from staying too wet, which can lead to root rot.