A perennial groundcover plant in warmer regions and an annual in colder regions, the Turtle Vine plant goes by many names including Creeping inch plant, Creeping Basket Plant or Bolivian Wandering Jew.
You may also know it after its botanical name — Callisia repens.
With a trailing growth habit and a vigorous growth pattern, the Turtle vine plant can be grown as groundcover in warmer climates, but also in containers and hanging baskets, from which they spill over, creating a beautiful display of foliage.
Here are my recommendations on how to best take care of this plant:
Size & Growth
As most trailing plants, this too is small in height but large in spread. It usually reaches a height between 4 and 12 inches, and a length of almost 2 feet.
It grows fast too, so you’ll quickly get a visually appealing plant that spills over the edge of its container or covers the ground you want to cover with it.
The leaves of the Creeping inch plant grow densely and vary in size. They get smaller the further away they get from the plant’s core.
Callisia repens enjoys full sun to partial shade as its light requirement. In low light conditions, the plant can become straggly, so don’t keep this plant in a location with little to no light.
If the sun shining down on the plant is too strong, the leaves may get discolored. This especially in hot areas.
As an alternative, medium light conditions, such bright, indirect light or partial shade may prove to be a much better choice in areas with very hot summers.
In cooler areas full sun exposure is well-tolerated, so choose a location with full sun for best growth.
The Turtle vine plant enjoys damp and moist soil during its growing season. Water the plant moderately to keep the soil consistently damp but avoid overwatering or allowing the potting mix to completely dry out.
Overwatering will easily cause root rot issues, while underwatering will cause the plant to dry out, especially in hot, dry weather.
In winter, you can cut back on watering the plant. Water only when the topsoil feels dry.
Whenever you water, water until you see water coming out from the bottom of the pot. Make sure that the pot drains correctly and that water does not get on the leaves of the plant.
But correctly watering this plant is only one of the things that you can do to prevent rotting of the roots. The other, equally important thing is choosing the right potting mix.
It’s key to choose a peat based potting mix that will offer adequate moisture but also drains fast enough to prevent the roots from sitting in water.
Although the plant adapts to various levels of soil pH, it prefers its soil pH in the range of 5.0 to 6.0.
I don’t recommend using a standard potting mix unless you amend it with perlite or other substrate that encourages better drainage.
Temperature & Humidity
When grown outdoors as a ground cover plant, the plant acts as a perennial plant in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11.
In cooler climates, where winters get chilly, the plant becomes an annual that should be taken inside or else it will die in the fall as temperatures drop below 60 F.
Therefore, the temperature range you should be maintained for this plant, indoors should be between 60 °F and 80 °F.
Average humidity levels work fine for the Turtle Vine plant. Some gardeners will recommend occasional misting if the air gets excessively dry.
I don’t recommend misting plants as a rule to prevent fungal issues. If you want to increase humidity levels, you easily can either with a humidity tray or with a humidifier.
It’s a good idea to keep the plant’s environment a bit more humid as a dry environment will attract spider mites, creating trouble.
Use a balanced, liquid fertilizer monthly to feed the Creeping inch plant and meet its nutritional needs.
You can select fertilizers designed for foliage plants for even better results. For Turtle vine plants planted in the garden, fertilizing is not something you should be worrying about.
Despite its vigorous growth, this isn’t a heavy feeder plant. However, when grown in pots, nutrients can quickly become depleted.
Potting & Repotting
For potting this plant, select a container that’s fitted with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape from the pot.
Repotting is usually needed every 2 years. And even then, don’t go for a pot that’s too large. Choose one that’s one or maximum two sizes bigger.
If you’re regularly pinching back the stems and keeping the plant compact, it can stay a long time in the same pot.
However, after two years, it’s a good idea to transfer the plant to another pot — or even back in the same pot if the plant still fits well — just to replace the potting mix with a fresh mix.
How to Propagate Turtle Vine Plant?
You can propagate the Callisia repens through seeds, although it’s best propagated from stem cuttings.
Identify healthy parts of the plant and harvest 2 inch cuttings. For best results, harvest them in early spring or early summer.
Plant in moist potting mix, keep in a warm location out of direct sunlight and the cuttings will soon put out roots.
The Turtle vine plant is easy to propagate, so don’t be intimidated by it. Simply follow these instructions, and rooting will take place quickly and without trouble.
If you live in a warm climate, where you can grow this plant in your garden, you can benefit from the Creeping inch plants ability to cover the ground in beautifully shaped foliage.
If winters are cold in your area and temperatures drop below 60 F, don’t fret, you can still enjoy the Turtle vine plant in a hanging basket or a normal pot.
Either way, provide just the right amount of water, keep out of strong direct sun, and feed occasionally for best growth.