I saw this strange plant while shopping for Chinese New Year plants. The ant plant (Dischidia pectinoides) is sold as an auspicious plant during the festive season. What's the symbolic meaning behind it? I hope someone can tell me.
At first I was hesitant to buy it because I worry that it will be difficult to care for. Moreover, I do not want it to turn into an ant's nest!
I have since discovered that it is actually quite easy to care for. The flowers bloom continuously.
Synonym: Dischidia lanceolata, Dischidia vidalii
Dischidia pectinoides is an epiphytic plant which has a symbiotic relationship with ants. Hence, it is also known as the Ant Plant.
An epiphyte grows on and depends on another plant for mechanical support but does not need the host plants nutrients.
Some leaves of this cute little climber are balloon like. In its natural habitat in the forest, this pouch serves as a cosy nest for ants in exchange for carbon dioxide.
If you are wondering if this "ant hotel" has attracted any ants from the vicinity of my home garden, well, there are still no takers yet.
Propagation is by seeds or stem cuttings. The seeds do not store well, hence need to be sown as soon as possible.
Further references : National Parks of Singapore "My Green Space" publication, link here:
Dischidia are easily propagated from stem-cuttings. Cut short segments of the stem and let them heal and dry. Then put them on top of some moist sphagnum moss – strings may be needed to secure them in place. The stem cuttings should be placed in a protected place away from direct sunlight and wind with the sphagnum moss kept moist at all times. Once roots have grown and the cuttings show some growth, they can be moved to their final locations. The plants can also be grown from seeds which are produced in pods that split when mature. The seeds have fine hairs attached that enable the wind to carry them away.