Bridal veil plant is a trailing houseplant that’s perfect for hanging pots. Delicately pretty, the foliage of this unusual plant drapes down like a bride’s veil studded with tiny white “pearls”—three-petaled blossoms measuring just a little more than a quarter of an inch across. As for the leaves of bridal veil plants, they feature a deep green color along their tops and rich hues of purple to lavender on their undersides. This attractive foliage provides a dramatic backdrop for the veil’s hundreds of tiny white flowers. Whether you’re naturally drawn to foliage plants or you love a good profusion of blooms, the bridal veil plant has a little something for everyone. Learn more about how to care for this flowering plant below.
Meet the bridal veil plant
Hailing from the tropical climates of Central and South America, bridal veil plants can’t handle frost. They’ll perform best when grown in temperatures between 55 to 70 F (12 to 21 C) and are hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9b through 13b. What if you don’t live somewhere quite that warm? No worries—the bridal veil plant is highly adaptable to life indoors as a houseplant.
Now, while this attractive plant’s common name is simply bridal veil plant or Tahitian bridal veil, it’s worth noting that its correct scientific name hasn’t always been clear. As a result, you might still see it misrepresented online or misprinted on a plant label at your local nursery. For instance, because the bridal veil plant is related to the Tradescantias, it is sometimes listed as Tradescantia geniculata or Tradescantia multiflora, but these names are not accurate. Tahitian bridal veil is also incorrectly referred to as Tripogandra multiflora. After much research, experts at North Carolina State University determined that the correct species name is Gibasis pellucida.
Where to grow the bridal veil plant
When grown outdoors in tropical spots like Panama and Costa Rica, the bridal veil plant is a fast-growing climber. In the warmest parts of the U.S., it can be grown as a border plant in an outdoor perennial garden area. It can also be used as a creeping ground cover in warm climates—just keep in mind that bridal veil plants can’t handle regular or heavy foot traffic.
As for cooler locales, the bridal veil plant is perfect for planting in hanging baskets. By keeping plants in baskets, you can move them outside to a partially shaded location during warm weather and then move them back inside during the colder months of the year. You can also opt to grow the bridal veil plant indoors year-round.
The best lighting for bridal veil plant
Bridal veil plants flourish in bright indirect light. During the summer months, a partially shaded location like a screened-in porch or sunroom can provide bright light that is much better suited for these plants than potentially scorching direct sunlight. With just the right lighting, bridal veil plants grow more compact with leaves in darker shades of green and purple. However, under inadequate light, plants may begin to drop their leaves altogether.
How often to water bridal veil plant
How often you need to water partly depends on the time of year. During winter, your bridal veil plant enjoys a brief resting period and won’t need watering as often as it might during the height of summer. (The type of soil your plant is growing in also influences watering frequency. For example, bridal veil plants grown directly in garden beds with clay soils won’t need to be watered as often as those grown in sandy soils or a sandy loam soil type.)
As a general rule, bridal veil plants should be watered every couple of weeks. Ideally, you should check the soil moisture levels of your plants on a weekly basis. Using your fingers or a small trowel, examine the top inch or two of soil. Does it look and feel dry? If so, it’s time to water.
The best way to water this houseplant
Because bridal veil plants don’t tolerate “wet feet” and root rot is a very real threat to them, avoid overwatering. You can use a simple watering can or a long handled watering wand with adjustable sprinkler head to direct water straight to the root zone at the base of the plant. For outdoor plants in deeper soil, direct water to the top six to 12 inches (15-30cm) of the garden area. After watering, the soil should be moist but not sopping. Not sure whether they’ve had enough? When in doubt, keep plants on the dry side.
How to make a bridal veil plant flower
If conditions are right, your bridal veil plant could flower as early as February and well into September. To spur new flowers, periodically give the entire plant a quick glance and trim off any old flowers you notice using sharp garden snips. This helps divert the plant’s energy away from seed production and back into putting on additional buds.
Bridal veil plants typically don’t require much fertilizer. Providing them with a well-balanced plant food at least once per month during their active growing season is really all you need for a healthy flowering plant. When choosing a tropical plant fertilizer, both the source of nutrients and their application method can affect your bridal veil plant over the long-term.
While chemical-based liquid feeds afford plants with a large burst of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, they can also contribute to plant burn injuries and build-up of chemical salts within the potted soil of a bridal veil plant. Instead, reach for one of the many slow-release water soluble fertilizers now available. Often derived from all-natural, organic ingredients, these can provide a good nutritional balance without the drawbacks of chemically derived fertilizers. (No matter which kinds of nutrients you choose, always follow package directions carefully.)
How often to repot a bridal veil plant
If you suspect your bridal veil plant has become root-bound or you’d just like to encourage it to grow bigger, you might want to repot. (Repotting also affords you a chance to mix your bridal veil plant with other, different plants—as long as they don’t have different water requirements, that is.)
Whether you choose an 8-inch plastic pot or, say, a much larger, ceramic planter, the new container must have at least one drainage hole. (Several bottom drip holes would be even better.) To further facilitate drainage, use a lightweight tropical plant potting soil containing perlite. When transplanting, position your bridal veil plant at the same soil surface depth as it was in its previous container. Infill with new soil and then gently press down to ensure the plant’s root ball makes good contact with the added soil.
Propagation of bridal veil plants
If plant propagation is a favorite gardening activity of yours, you’re in luck. The nodes along the stems of the bridal veil plant make for easily-rooted cuttings. For bridal veil plants in pots or hanging baskets, you can snip healthy sections of the ends of their long, trailing stems for propagation. For best results, follow these steps:
- Use sharp, clean scissors to remove two to four inches (5-10cm) of healthy stem.
- Carefully pinch off a couple of the lower sets of leaves along the stem. (Over time, plant roots will grow out of these exposed leaf nodes.)
- Place the lower portion of the stem in clean water, ensuring that the stem’s remaining leaves are not submerged. Change this water each week until roots appear.
Once a robust set of roots has appeared, you can plant your rooted cutting in potting soil.
Alternatively, you can follow the first two propagation steps above and then apply rooting hormone to the clipped stem and plant it directly in moistened potting soil. Depending on the humidity in your growing environment, you might also want to add a plastic bag or cloche over your clippings to help reduce evaporation during the rooting process.
Potential problems with bridal veil
Insect pests such as aphids and mealybugs seldom affect bridal veil plants. (Even deer are said to leave these tropical beauties alone!) Still, if you do discover an infestation of soft-bodied insects, you can eliminate them with an application of insecticidal soap.
One other potential problem worth noting? Bridal veil plants can be toxic to dogs, cats, and other pets.
Additional care tips for the bridal veil plant
- Once the weather warms, bring bridal veil plants outside for a dose of fresh air and bright, filtered light. Don’t place in direct sun.
- Remove dead stems and dry leaves to improve your plant’s overall appearance and boost its access to air and light. This also helps guard against mold and other maladies, contributing to healthier foliage and loads of new, white flowers, too.
- Once trailing stems begin to extend beyond your desired size, prune them back. This will increase your plant’s density and prompt bushy new growth.
Lifting the veil
With its diminutive leaves and delicate flowers, the bridal veil plant is a very small species within the Gibasis genus. Officially known as Gibasis pellucida, this lovely plant thrives when provided with consistently warm temperatures and bright indirect light. Proper Tahitian bridal veil plant care also includes regular monitoring of soil moisture levels and repotting, pruning, and fertilizing as needed.
By understanding the plant’s specific requirements and following the requisite care instructions, you can easily grow curtains of lush foliage dotted with a multitude of pearl-like blooms. You’ll also be able to propagate additional bridal veil plants for your own collection, to share with others, or to grow as outdoor annuals in cooler climates.
For more about bridal veil plants and their care, check out this video:
Learn more about growing and caring for houseplants in these detailed articles:
- Fall in love with the Swiss cheese plant
- Discover the best hanging succulent plants
- Begonia Gryphon: An eye-catching indoor (or outdoor) plant
- A guide to growing flamingo flower
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