Widely regarded as a great herbal remedy for aches and bruises, the plant oil of Callisia plants boasts a number of uses. Featuring rich greenery, it is commonly grown in hanging baskets or as an indoor plant, although
Callisia plants can also be grown in greenhouses if desired. If you’re keen to grow some of these impressive plants for yourself, here are a few of the important things you need to know.
The origins of Callisia plants
A genus of flowering plants from the spiderwort family, Callisia comes from the Commelinaceae family. Members of this genus are traditionally known as ‘roselings’.
It is native to the Western Hemisphere, and can be found from the southern United States all the way south to Argentina.
This plant’s generic name is taken from the Greek word καλλον, which translates to ‘beauty’.
What does Callisia look like?
Callisia is a somewhat straggling, low-growing, cascading plant boasting an array of small green, fleshy leaves complete with pretty purple undersides.
Towards the end of autumn, the leaves begin to turn a deep shade of purple, especially as watering slows down. This plant is related to the Tradescantia family and spreads or trails in a similar manner to other Tradescantias.
Despite their similarities, Callisia plants feature succulent foliage, although they do have the same blooms. As a shrub with tropical origins, Callisia is able to thrive in dappled shade or full sunlight and prefers a slightly humid growing environment.
How to grow Callisia plants
Callisia (which includes the Callisia fragrant species, known as the basket plant) is often found growing in areas boasting shady ground cover in a variety of tropical locations.
They also go by the name of ‘inch plants’, mainly due to the way they inch along the ground, rooting wherever their plantlets touch base with the soil.
The Callisia plant is native to Mexico and South America where it thrives, while in colder climates, the shrub is more likely to be grown as a houseplant.
You can purchase this shrub from garden centres, where it will be kept in greenhouses, as well as online. It is often referred to as a basket plant. This specie does extremely well as a houseplant because it does not require a great deal of light to grow.
However, the more light it receives, the more purple the foliage will turn. Despite this, it’s important to avoid exposing your Callisia plant to too much light, as this can scorch it.
Over time, the leaves of Callisia plants will spread out and hang over the sides of a pot, so it’s recommended to place them onto shelves or a windowsill if you really want to enjoy its greenery.
More about Callisia Plants
Callisia comes from the Latin words meaning ‘beautiful lily’. The plant itself looks a little like a lily or a bromeliad and often grows in the same way as a spider plant does so. It is just as easy to grow and care for too.
Similar to the spider plant, the Callisia plant produces plantlets that can easily be snipped off and planted to create new plants.
Its foliage looks and feels a little rubbery, and it boasts delicate white, extremely fragrant blooms.
Callisia Plant Care
Callisia plant care is minimal which makes it a great option for those looking for a low maintenance shrub. For best results, simply place this plant in a basket in low to medium light and water regularly (every three days or so) when the soil is dry to the touch.
Note that you should look to avoid overwatering a Callisia plant though, as it can limit growth, cause the stem to rot, and cause the leaves to go yellow. During the spring, summer, and autumn months, it’s important to fertilize basket plants with a regular 10-10-10 fertilizer on a monthly basis.
In the winter months, you can stop adding fertilizer, while you can also water your Callisia plants on a less frequent basis. Be watchful for aphids around your plant, as they will likely attack and limit any new growth.
Growing Callisia plants for health
As with the majority of houseplants, basket plants also purify indoor air by ridding it of pollutants. In addition to this, all parts of the plant are edible, which is one of the reasons they can be used in herbal remedies.
The leaves can be removed directly from the plant and chewed to relieve stomach ache and digestive issues, which is why Callisia is regarded as nature’s antibiotic, antibacterial, and antioxidant wonder plant!
Image by Forrest & Kim Starr
More about Callisia
In Russia, Callisia leaves are often infused with vodka and used as an ointment for various skin problems, as well as an antidote to colds, heart problems, cancer, varicose veins, upset stomachs, and inflammation from arthritis.
The leaves can also be infused with wine or dried and used as teas. Oil infused with Callisia is often used as a muscle or joint rub and is also said to be good to treat bruises.
How to care for Callisia Plants when they reopen
When Callisia plants open or reopen to flower, in order to ensure they thrive it’s important to place them in a warm, sunny spot. Put them outside in the spring and summer to provide the ideal setting.
While the plant will not be harmed by one or two days of darkened conditions, leaving it in the dark for a prolonged period will weaken it considerably. During its active growth, it’s a good idea to water your plant regularly, applying a balanced liquid fertilizer every four weeks.
When winter strikes, water the plant more sparingly. These shrubs prefer to be kept fairly moist, especially if they are being grown in containers.
This plant has been a popular houseplant in Europe since the early 1900s. The foliage is extremely attractive and it grows very well in the shade.
Propagation is extremely easy, simply cut a stem below a node, take back the foliage, and place the stem into moist, but well-draining soil.
Cuttings tend to grow pretty quickly in just a matter of weeks when given the growing conditions they need.
Image by Forest & Kim Starr