How to Grow and Care for String of Nickels

Dischidia nummularia (string of nickels) in a wall-mounted planter against a white wall.

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In This Article

The string of nickels (Dischidia nummularia) is a type of vining succulent that is native to the tropical regions of Asia, India, and Australia. It is a type of epiphyte similar to orchids and air plants such as Tillandsia, meaning that in its native habitat, the string of nickels grows on other plants such as trees and obtains its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, or debris accumulating around it, rather than from soil. 

This Dischidia is a relatively uncommon houseplant that can be difficult to find, but if you manage to get your hands on one it will do well in almost any location in your home. Unlike many other types of succulents, the string of nickels does not require a bright, sunny location—it actually prefers low-light conditions.

Botanical Name Dischidia nummularia 
Common Name  String of nickels, button orchid 
Plant Type  Succulent
Mature Size  12-18 in. long, 15-24 in. spread 
Sun Exposure  Partial, shade 
Soil Type  Well-drained 
Soil pH  Neutral, alkaline 
Bloom Time  Spring, summer 
Flower Color  Yellow, white 
Hardiness Zones  11a, 11b, 12a, 12b 
Native Area  India, Asia, Australia 
Toxicity  Non-toxic
Dischida nummularia (string of nickels) close up shot of hanging vines.

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String of Nickels Care

These tropical epiphytes are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for. They are most commonly grown indoors as houseplants since they cannot tolerate cold temperatures or frost, but can be grown outdoors year-round in climates that are consistently warm. They enjoy consistent moisture and are prolific growers in the right environment. 

It is recommended that string of nickels are repotted annually so they do not become rootbound, which can hinder growth as their roots need plenty of aeration in order to thrive. String of nickels do not require pruning, but since they can grow quickly they can be trimmed and shaped as necessary.

Light

String of nickels grow well in low-light conditions. Indoors, they are a perfect choice for that low-light north- or east-facing window. Ideally, they should still receive some sunlight throughout the day; a small amount of morning or evening sun is perfect. When grown outdoors, a string of nickels should be grown in shady locations that are protected from the hot afternoon sun. They do well in hanging baskets or planters under covered porches or patios.

Soil

String of nickels should be grown in a light and airy, well-draining medium that is high in organic matter. As an epiphyte, their roots require air flow in order to thrive. An orchid potting mix, shredded coco coir, or shredded bark are all good options for string of nickels. Do not plant a string of nickels in regular potting soil as it is too dense and the roots will suffocate and rot.

Water

Keep the potting medium evenly moist but be careful to avoid waterlogging the roots; they should never sit in water for extended periods of time. String of nickels also benefit from regular misting, which helps the plant absorb moisture through the leaves.

Temperature and Humidity

String of nickels thrive in humid, warm environments and do not tolerate cold temperatures or frost. They are hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, but are typically grown indoors as houseplants. While a string of nickels will do well in average household humidity, if you place it in a location with some extra humidity such as a kitchen or bathroom it will thrive. 

Fertilizer

String of nickels do not require regular fertilizing outside of ensuring that their potting medium is rich in organic matter. However, if desired, a low-strength balanced fertilizer can be applied annually at the beginning of the growing season.

Are String of Nickels Toxic?

These tropical epiphytes are not toxic to pets or humans, however, the sap can be mildly irritating if it comes in contact with the skin. Take caution when propagating or repotting a string of nickels by wearing gardening gloves to prevent skin irritation.

Symptoms of Poisoning

  • Skin irritation

Propagating String of Nickels

String of nickels are easily propagated by stem cuttings. Take cuttings from a healthy, established plant and allow the cut stems to callous over for a couple of hours before rooting in moist sphagnum moss. It usually takes a couple of weeks for roots to establish. Once the cuttings are well-rooted they can be moved to a regular organic potting medium and cared for like a mature string of nickels.  

Common Pests and Diseases

Root rot is the most common disease that affects a string of nickels. To prevent root rot, ensure that you are not overwatering your string of nickels, and that the potting medium allows air to reach the roots. String of nickels can also be susceptible to some common pests such as spider mites, fungus gnats, aphids, and mealybugs. Ensure that you are regularly inspecting your string of nickels for pests so that you can catch any infestations early.