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Five trailing plants anyone can grow

27 July 2022
017a8738 rhipsalis

Enduringly popular and great for confined spaces, these five beauties will easily drape and create a lively aesthetic in your space. Words & photos Liz Carlson

The houseplant trend has been booming during the past few years, and we’ve all seen how plants have taken over both on social media and in our real lives. Everywhere from our local coffee shop to our hair salon to the supermarket seems to be styled with houseplants these days – and not without good reason too. Plants have been scientifically proven to boost our happiness levels and improve wellbeing. It’s something almost everyone can relate to. Isn’t there something so divine about having a bit of greenery inside? It’s an easy, proven way to change up a space and turn a house into a home. But where to begin?

Trailing plants seem a good place to start, and they have been enduringly popular in recent years. Lush plants that cascade down a bookcase or are tucked above your fridge are such a delightful way to add a pop of colour and life into the home.


The chain of hearts (Ceropegia woodii, syn. C. linearis ssp. woodii) is an all-round winner of a trailing plant, especially the variegated version. It is a super low-key, easy-to-care-for trailing plant.

Many people don’t realise that the iconic chain of hearts is actually a succulent, which means it thrives on a bit of neglect; you don’t want to overwater these guys. Native to South Africa, the chain of hearts is a
flowering plant with fat juicy leaves (which mark it as a succulent). When happy, it will flower regularly – and it thrives in bright, indirect light.

The variegated version on the market here in New Zealand has white and pink leaves. Easy to care for (much like the non-variegated version), it’s best to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. The more sunlight it receives, the pinker the leaves can go. Don’t worry, sun stress won’t harm the plant – just make sure you don’t put wet leaves in direct sunlight.


The iconic Swiss cheese vine (Monstera adansonii) is a type of monstera that enjoys both climbing and trailing. This delicate trailing cousin of the iconic Swiss cheese plant (M. deliciosa) is much smaller, with lovely leaves with large holes; often, they seem to have more holes than leaves. With its showstopping foliage, it’s no wonder the Swiss cheese vine’s popularity hasn’t seemed to wane.

It’s very easy to care for, enjoying bright, indirect light and watering once the top few centimetres of soil dries out. Like many aroids (members of the Araceae family of plants), it will happily both trail down or climb up; the leaves will grow larger if supported. Regular haircuts help keep these guys busy and beautiful.


The heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum) is an iconic houseplant that is almost impossible to kill. Whenever someone is looking to start collecting tropical houseplants, I almost always universally recommend this classic philodendron. With its dark-green leaves in the perfect shape of a heart, these guys are hardy and beautiful. They love bright, indirect light and prefer to be watered once the top layer of soil begins to dry out.

The heartleaf philodendron looks absolutely stunning trailing down from a shelf or basket, and it often produces large leaves. There are many variegated cultivars of the heartleaf philodendron available in New Zealand, including ‘Brasil’ and ‘Lemon Lime’. Both of these are striking, but they tend to be a bit fussier than their solid green ancestors.


How cool are cacti that don’t look like cacti? Rhipsalis is a genus of epiphytic flowering cacti found in the jungle, rather than the desert. Many species of Rhipsalis can be found worldwide, with a handful of them available here in New Zealand. Rhipsalis baccifera, aka the spaghetti rhipsalis, is the species most commonly found here, though we have many others, including the hairystemmed rhipsalis (R. pilocarpa), a personal fave.

A stunning hanging plant, R. baccifera looks incredible hanging from the ceiling, with its thin stems cascading downwards like a head of green hair. Blooming in winter, it comes alive with white flowers, appearing almost otherworldly. Most Rhipsalis species lack spines, and since they grow wild in humid conditions in the jungle, they tend to prefer indirect sunlight and more watering and humidity. These are one of the few houseplants that can thrive outdoors in New Zealand, though they will hate a frost.


‘Variegata ’ I’ve found Peperomia scandens ‘Variegata’ (the variegated form of P. scandens, also known as P. nitida ‘Variegata’), to be the easiest variegated trailing plant this side of the pond. Low-key and hardy, they produce perfect little heart-shaped leaves that are white and green. Fast and strong growers, they make for a classic feature plant at home that screams design without the fuss. Their non-variegated versions are generally darker green and equally beautiful.

But remember, because it is variegated, it will do better with more light, though harsh direct light can burn its beautiful foliage. Water when the top few centimetres of soil dry out; they thrive on neglect.

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