Origin and Distribution
The silver rain is not a species in its own right, but a particularly striking cultivar of the species Dichondra argentea, which is widespread in the south of the USA and in Central and South America. This belongs to the genus Dichondra, which comprises about 15 species, which in turn belongs to the bindweed family (bot. Convolvulaceae) and is related to the sweet potato (bot. Ipomoea batatas).
- Silver rain - toxic or not?
- Silver rain - plant the distinctive plant
- Is the silver rain hardy or only annual?
The various Dichondra species are almost exclusively native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America, only two species - Dichondra repens and Dichondra brevifolia - can also be found in New Zealand and Australia. As a neophyte, Dichondra micrantha, originally native to Texas, Mexico and the Caribbean islands, spreads in southern Europe, where the species is widely sown as a substitute for lawns.
Appearance and stature
Dichondra argentea 'Silberregen' is a herbaceous plant with thin shoots up to one and a half or even two meters long, lying down or hanging down. The variety is sometimes referred to as 'Silver Falls'. The plants, usually delivered as young plants or grown by the plant themselves, grow rapidly and develop densely greened areas within a few weeks. For this reason, the creeping or hanging plant that is actually perennial, but not sufficiently frost-hardy, can be cultivated as an annual without any problems.
The silver rain is most beautifully planted individually in hanging baskets or window boxes (€ 106.25 at Amazon *), but also decorates walls, projections, fences and similar structures on the balcony, terrace or in the garden. It is also very popular to use it as a lawn substitute for greening bare open spaces, for example in the perennial bed or as a border.
The shiny silver leaves are particularly emphasized by the association with red or blue to purple blooming perennials or summer flowers. Dichondra argentea is particularly suitable as a (hanging) background planting or bed border. Suitable plant partners are for example monkshood (caution, poisonous!), Scented nettle, summer aster, lupine, dye pod, delphinium, bellflower, knapweed, carnation, red yarrow, spurflower, foxglove (also poisonous!) Or hollyhock.
Dichondra argentea is also ideally suited as a houseplant, as the tropical plant with its high ornamental value is easy to care for.
The silvery, shiny, hairy leaves of the silver rain are reminiscent of small coins due to their rounded shape and sit close to the delicate, long shoots. This creates a compact, dense overall appearance.
Flowers, flowering time and fruits
The small, bright yellow-green bell-shaped blossoms appear numerous throughout the season, but are quite inconspicuous. After flowering, capsule fruits develop, which usually consist of two separate, membranous capsules with only one round seed each.
Dichondra argentea is non-toxic and therefore ideally suited for households with small children and curious pets.
Which location is suitable?
As a typical plant of the subtropics and tropics, the silver rain likes to be warm: In order to feel comfortable and to grow vigorously, the plant needs a temperature of at least 16 degrees Celsius. Dichondra argentea stops growing below this value. The ideal location should not only be warm, but also protected from wind and rain and as sunny to partially shaded as possible.
A slightly more shady location does not do any harm, however, as the plant is specifically looking for its way into sunlight thanks to its long shoots. Balcony plants in particular benefit from being planted in the shade. Only the shoots should grow in the sun. With this measure, the substrate in the bucket does not dry out as quickly and you have to water less.
Soil / substrate
With regard to the soil, the silver rain is quite undemanding and thrives on any well-drained, nutrient-rich, sandy-loamy soil - it just has to be well-drained and loose, because the variety needs drought. For this reason, plants grown in pots should always be provided with good drainage so that waterlogging does not arise in the first place. In addition, excess irrigation water must be removed from the planter or saucer immediately after watering. Incidentally, potted plants feel most comfortable in good humus-based potting soil.
Incidentally, this description does not apply to all Dichondra species, because some - for example the Creeping Dipondra (bot. D. repens), this prefers a rather fresh to moist substrate and must not dry out under any circumstances.
Plant silver rain properly
Since silver rain planted in the garden cannot be brought through the cold season due to insufficient winter hardiness, you should either buy new young plants every year or prefer them. The seeds can be bought cheaply in specialist shops.
From mid-January, sow the seeds in small pots with a growing medium (€ 9.05 on Amazon *) and place them on a light window sill at around 22 degrees Celsius. Keep the substrate only slightly moist and avoid getting wet, otherwise mold growth will occur. After about two weeks, the seedlings finally begin to grow, then you can lower the temperature to around 20 degrees Celsius.
From mid to late May, when the temperatures outside are constantly at least 16 degrees Celsius, you can plant the young plants either in the bed or in a larger pot with a more nutrient-rich substrate. But slowly get used to the new location so that there is no irritation.
Alternatively, you can sow the seeds directly outside from May, but it must not be colder than 16 degrees Celsius afterwards.
If you want to plant the silver rain as a ground cover, a planting distance of at least 20 centimeters is recommended. The plants can be up to 60 centimeters wide and between 15 and 30 centimeters high, which is why the recommended distance should also be observed in planters such as a flower box (€ 13.18 on Amazon *). For a balcony box with a length of 60 centimeters you should plan a maximum of five silver rain plants.
Pour silver rain
In contrast to some other dichondra species, the silver rain needs little water and can cope with drought and heat excellently. So water only moderately, but regularly, and let the substrate dry off in between.
Make sure that you always water from below and do not wet the leaves and flowers.
Fertilize silver rain properly
As annual plants, specimens planted in the garden do not need any fertilizer. Silver rain cultivated in pots - which after all can be hibernated quite easily - should be provided with a liquid fertilizer applied via the irrigation water about every four weeks between August and September.
Cut silver rain correctly
If you only cultivate the silver rain once a year, pruning is not necessary. Only if the shoots are too long can you simply shorten them with scissors and otherwise let the fast-growing plant grow. Overwintered specimens, on the other hand, are completely cut back in spring and then sprout all the more beautifully.
Silver rain multiply
The silver rain can be easily propagated not only with seeds, but also with cuttings cut in early summer. To do this, cut off head cuttings about five centimeters long and put them in small pots with a growing medium. Place the potty in a bright, but not directly sunny, and warm place, for example on a window sill. Keep the substrate slightly damp, but not wet. The cuttings form roots within a short time and, as soon as new leaves develop, they can be moved to a larger pot or to the cold frame.
Silver rain planted in the garden is not hardy and cannot be overwintered outdoors even with protective measures such as brushwood etc. Therefore, dichondra used as a ground cover must be replanted every year. However, specimens grown in pots can be brought through the cold season under the following conditions:
- bright, protected location in the house or winter garden
- Temperatures between ten and 15 degrees Celsius
- Silver rain stops growth at temperatures below 12 degrees Celsius
- Greatly reduce watering during winter
- Let the substrate dry out at least two centimeters between waterings
- Adjust fertilization completely
In April you cut back the silver rain completely and repot the plant in fresh, nutrient-rich substrate and, if necessary, a larger container. Now slowly start fertilizing again and slowly increase the amount of water. From the middle to the end of May the plant can finally go outside again, provided the temperatures are constantly above 16 degrees Celsius.
Diseases and pests
The silver rain is considered robust and is rarely attacked by diseases and pests.
In addition to the 'silver rain' variety of the species Dichondra argentea, there is also a variety of the same name from the hanging bells (bot. Campanula poscharskyana), which are particularly popular as balcony flowers. This bears its poetic name because of the lush, snow-white flowers. The common robinia is also sometimes referred to as silver rain.
Species and varieties
In addition to the species Dichondra argentea and its cultivar 'Silberregen', other Dichondra species are also cultivated as ornamental plants. Dichondra micrantha, for example, is used as a ground cover and lawn substitute. Dichondra repens is also cultivated as an ornamental plant and can be used as a lawn substitute or ground cover in gardens. The species has green to gray leaves and is sown anew every year. Dichondra repens is a small, herbaceous plant native to New Zealand and many parts of Australia. Occasionally referred to as kidney herb, it often grows in forest and grassland habitats.