Cyanotis kewensis, aka teddy bear vine is a ‘cousin’ to tradescantia. They have a similar growth habit to tradescantia although I would say these grow a bit slower. I had seen this plant in my local garden store for a while. It was big and grew in a hanging basket, however – I hope I am allowed by plant lovers to say this – it was UGLY! We can say that no? I know nature is beautiful but when it does not get what it needs, it can be pretty ugly right? Well this plant was ugly, through no fault of its own mind you. I think due to insufficient light or perhaps poor care in general, the plant was spindly and looked quite sad with many dead leaves. Besides me, not having the space to keep it, its appearance did not convince me it was worth buying.
On another visit to the garden store, I saw a small cutting of this plant and it looked so adorable. Much more pleasant to the eye than its Mum. It has short ‘chocolatey’ hairs covering the stems and leaves with the green leaves spotting a purple underside. My starter plant has grown quite a bit but not as fast as my T. zebrina cuttings in my opinion.
C. kewensis is not very popular from what I can tell and apart from that one local garden store, I haven’t seen it anywhere else. There is also no information on this plant in recently written plant books I own. The only book that I found with information on this plant was the book written by the Reader’s Digest, “Success with House plants” published in 19791! I find fairly old books on plants are well researched and written and contain much more thorough information than currently published plant books – but I digress.
Light: Mine is about 3 feet away from a Western window. Its is therefore brightly lit and gets some direct sun1. This allows it to have a compact growth as they look spindly when light is insufficient1.
Water: This plant grows actively throughout the year and does not have a resting period, hence it can be watered moderately throughout the year. As with most plants, allow the top half-inch to dry out before watering again1. Apparently, it is beneficial if you occasionally let the soil dry out (for not more than a day or two). Doing this will improve leaf colour1.
Temperature: Normal indoor temperatures will suffice, however this plant is said to need high humidity. The dreaded word. So far I haven’t done anything special to increase humidity except to place it among other plants. You could place it in a pebble tray of water when its small but when its big and hanging, this might be a problem. You could suspend water underneath the hanging pot with those plastic trays meant to collect water from dripping hanging pots – not sure how effective these methods will be, but it is at least something. I had it in late winter and did not seem to be bothered by the relatively low humidity. For now, the humidity is fairly high (61% today), thanks to the almost daily rain.
Propagation: Just like Tradescantia, you can make more plants by taking tip cuttings. Take a stem with at least 3 pairs of leaves. Remove the bottom leaves (roots will grow here) and insert it into your medium. As per the Reader’s Digest 1, the plant will live for about 2 – 3 years after which new cuttings should be obtained and the old plant discarded. I imagine it may be unsightly after a couple of years, but thankfully you can start a new plant from the old one.
I would love to see your teddy bear vine if you have any. Upload a picture of it here or tag me on facebook or instagram @greenobsessions. That’s all for now.
Reader’s Digest Association (1979). Success with house plants.
Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m a little obsessed with house plants. I share my house plant adventures in the hopes of inspiring you to continue to enjoy the greens in your home. And if you have no plants (yet!) I hope this blog inspires you to add some green to your home. So go on! Try it! I think you might quite like it. And who knows? You may end up being … obsessed too.