Do you want to know about a unique, long growing vine which grows “too flat to be true”? Rhaphidophora cryptantha is a tropical aroid vine. The shingling foliage grows so tight and flat on the supporting surface, that it looks nearly artificial. This is a small plant until it finds suitable support. Once supported, it enhances and changes its appearance, reaching a length of about 6 feet.
The mature form of the plant has velvety thick, dark-green leaves with beautiful silver venation, overlapping the thick meandering stems. This native of New Guinea dwells equally well indoors and outdoors in moderate climates. You can use this plant to get versatile plant ornamentation including terrariums, terrestrial pots, tree wraps, and covers for walls and ground. Let us learn about this easy to grow, Shingle Rhaphidophora cryptantha plant along with its care and mounting method.
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha Classification
Species: R. cryptantha.
Rhaphidophora is a genus of evergreen, flowering vines. This Aroid genus contains around 100 recorded species. Moreover, it is native to tropical areas of Africa, the Western Pacific, Malaysia, and Australia. Commonly, these plants are hemiepiphytes in nature. Thus, the initial stage is from seed or as a terrestrial plant climbing up a tree. Moreover, a few species are adapted to grow in fast water as well, know as rheophytes.
These plants can grow equally well both indoors and outdoors. Moreover, some of them are used in the production of chemical compounds.
Common Names of The Rhaphidophora Cryptantha
• Shingle plant.
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha Plant Features
Structure And Height
- The plant needs a totem or support for growth. In the absence of a climbing place, the vine gets loose or leggy with weak foliage density.
- The height of the plant depends upon the space available for growth. In open space and in wild, it can cover full trees and even complete tall buildings. The vine may get about 6 to 8 feet long.
- In the case of small places like terrariums, the plant doesn’t grow a few inches.
Juvenile And Mature States
- In the juvenile stage, the plant consists of thin stems with tiny and hardly noticeable leaves. This juvenile vine grows horizontally along the ground.
- When the plant finds a climbing place, it finally starts getting into its mature form. As the plant grows, the stems get thicker, and leaves grow bigger and beautiful. Moreover, the internodes get shorter as the leaf growth becomes dense and congested.
- If a mature climbing vine reaches the peak of its support, it becomes freely hanging. Interestingly, the plant at this stage, the plant starts returning to its mature form.
- The size and structure of the leaves varies and depends upon the growing space.
- The diameter of a juvenile leaf is around 1 inch.
- The leaf of a mature leaf gets a diameter of around 3 inches.
Just like other members of the Rhaphidophora genus, this long growing vine is also toxic. The ingestion and chewing can lead to swelling of the mouth and other health issues including contact dermatitis. So, we always recommend keeping your kids and pets away from the plant.
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha Vs. Monstera Dubia
The Cryptantha is often confused with the juvenile shingling form of a popular plant, the Monstera dubia.
However, the following features of the Dubia plant differentiate it from the Rhaphidophora.
- The juvenile leaves are dark green with prominent greyish portions between the veins.
- The mature form of Dubia is surprisingly different from the juvenile form. The leaves get very large (around 1 foot) long. Moreover, they have the typical Monstera-like lace patterned cuttings on the surface.
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha Care
These plants like moist soil, especially in summer. Water the plant after the soil gets at least 70% dry in summer and 90% or completely dry in winter. However, the soil should never be over-watered or soggy. We usually share an estimate of the watering schedule. This is meant to help you out with the watering frequency. On warm days of the growing season, water the plant mildly, about three to four times a week. A water spray throughout the plant body will be an ideal practice. Alternatively, twice week water spraying is enough to keep the game going in the winter.
These plants usually like 70 to 85% bright indirect light. Howbeit, they can beautifully tolerate low light conditions. Importantly, direct sunlight is harmful to the delicate foliage.
These plants can do well with artificial light as well. This is why they are a good choice for indoor decorations and terrariums.
If you are planning to make an indoor dweller outdoors, gradually make it get used to the bright light.
The shingle plant usually loves warmth and has a low tolerance for cold and frost. An estimate for a suitable temperature range for indoor growth is a 55 to 80 °F. Alternatively, you need to convert the outdoor dwellers to some warmer region as soon as the fall arrives.
These plants need moist, well-draining, and rich soil. For indoor potting, you can use an aroid mixture. Please note that wet, dry to mucky and sandy soils are a big no-no for your vine.
These plants prefer humid environments. You can easily control the indoor moisture level for the indoor plant. On dry days, consider frequent misting, a pebble-water tray, or a humidifier around the plant.
In the growing season, a monthly dose of liquid fertilizer proves great for healthy foliage. On the other hand, your shingle vine can do pretty well without any added nutrition.
Some experts get good results by spare usage of slow-release fertilizers thrice a year. It is important to put this fertilizer at least 7 inches away from the plant base.
Be aware of the substandard fertilizers. As the salts can form crystals in the soil with harmful effects on the roots.
If the plant is looking leggy and lacking foliage density, this is a possible sign of nutritional deficiency.
These plants usually need support on a flat surface. Thus, trees with plane bark ideal for the natural support of the plant. Domestically, you can use an ironbark or a coir pole. People also use plastic poles. But, these don’t look much attractive. Thus, we usually recommend metal or moss poles for your indoor shingle Cryptantha plants.
As far as the size is concerned, bigger pots are better for these plants. They have well-developed root systems that need proper space. If the plant is root-bound, it will result in poor health and low growing speed.
You can cut a few leaves from the lower sides. This will enhance the growth and appearance of your vine in the pots. In the case of outdoor huge growth, you can even cut a big portion of vine. This can be further propagated at some different place or even gifted to some plant lover.
If the growth is slow and the plant is getting leggy, just check for roots from the drainage hole. If they are growing out and the root ball looks thick, it’s time to repot. The new pot should be larger and deeper. Experts recommend a pot with 10 to 20 inches wide diameter and depth for a baby plant. The new pot for a well-grown mature plant needs to be bigger than this size.
The ideal growth zone for the plant in patios is 4b to 11. Thus, in colder zones, the plant will grow well. However, when it gets cold, it needs to be converted to some warm place.
The ideal USDA zone for indoor growth is 9a to 11.
Rhaphidophora Shingle Plant Mounting
How to mount a Cryptantha shingle plant on the support?
This is a common question and an important part of plant growth. It may look tricky but it isn’t.
- Just take a moss poll and place it firmly in the soil. Now, pick up the horizontally or vertically grown vine and place it on the pole.
- Now, take some soft thread or domestic rope and tie the foliage with the thread. The thread should go in spiral movements along the supporting pole.
- Frequently spray the foliage with water. This will provide the required water to the plant and it will increase their mounting or climbing ability.
- The aerial roots of the plant will stick to the surface and get attached to the support. You can remove these ropes after about a month.
- You can also mount the plant along a tree by simply tying it along the tree.
Rhaphidophora Cryptantha Propagation
Just like other Aroids, these plants are easy to propagate.
- Take a sharp knife and get 5 to 7 inches of Rhaphidophora cryptantha cutting. The stem should have at least two aerial roots.
- Now take some chunky growing medium with plenty of aeration and drainage.
- Dip the stem base in some growth hormone. Alternatively, add some large particles of slow-release fertilizer at the top of the growth medium.
- Plant the cutting with one node in the medium and the upper one should be outside. This will provide support for the stem.
- Water the medium thoroughly until it becomes filled with moisture. In the case of dry growing mediums like coco-chips, you need to water the medium heavily.
Let us have an estimate of the growth pattern and initial requirements of the plant.
Day 1- Day 30: Place the potted cutting in a warm shade with decent humidity. Mild misting is a daily requirement for the initial days.
Spray the Rhaphidophora cryptantha cutting with high quality dilute liquid fertilizer once or twice a month to enhance the growth. However, if you added the fertilizer during the propagation, this additional nutrition is not required.
Day 30- Day 75: Root development usually takes place by the end of the 3rd to 4th week. This is followed by the shoot development. You can decrease the daily water mist by slightly heavier spraying on alternate days.
Day 75 onwards: You can reduce the initial mild spraying and simply follow the watering routine and other requirements shared above in the Rhaphidophora cryptantha Care.
Problems of The Rhaphidophora Shingle Plant
This is a pretty resilient plant with a few possible sucking pest enemies like;
- In the case of an early attack, you can easily crush them to get rid of the problem.
- Howbeit, in case of a severe attack, get a suitable insecticide spray from the market.
The Shingle cryptantha is a tropical aroid vine. In contact with suitable support, it can get more than 6 feet long. The usage of the plant includes beautiful terrariums, hanging baskets, supported terrestrial pots, and covers for trees, walls, and ground.
The juvenile form has thin stems with not so prominent leaves. On maturity, stems turn thicker with velvety leaves in shades of green and silver venation on the surface. This is an easy to propagate and low-maintenance plant. The basic requirements include shade to bright indirect light, frequent watering, and high humidity. The plant is toxic, so keep your kids and pets away from the Rhaphidophora cryptantha plant.