Growing Bertolonia

Growing Bertolonia – Bertolonia (or Jewel Plant) is an evergreen species of pretty, dwarf, creeping, tender perennials, native to tropical forests of Brazil. A rarity, but well worth looking for if you have a terrarium or plant window to fill. Not a good choice, however, for the living room – Bertolonia needs the high humidity of its jungle home. Bertolonia marmorata require special conditions of constant warmth and very humid atmosphere and will not thrive without them.


Bertolonia marmorata (the most popular type of this plant) has heart-shaped leaves which are mossy green and furry. The stems are crawl over the surface of the potting mixture, turning upwards their tips, but these plants never grow over 15cm high. Small purple flowers may appear but they are of little decorative value. Purplish flowers with five petals, about 2cm (0.8 inch) across, appear at intervals throughout the year. The flowers open singly on stiff flower stalks 7-10cm (3-4 inch) long. Bertolonia has a creeping growth habit – the plants grow only a few inches high.

There are prominent white stripes – the variety sanderiana has leaves heavily splashed with silver. Bertolonia maculata has oval leaves with pale green veins.


Bertolonia in terrarium

Secret of success

Temperature: These plants like normal room temperatures.

Light: Bright in winter, semi-shade in summer. No direct sun.

Watering: Keep compost moist at all times during the growing season. In the rest period water only enough to keep the mixture from drying out.


Air humidity: Moist air is vital. Stand on a pebble tray. Mist leaves frequently.

Repotting: Repot, if necessary, in spring. Use a potting mixture composed of equal parts of peat moss, leaf mould and coarse sand or perlite.

Propagation: Take stem cuttings in spring. Plant each cutting in a small pot filled with slightly moistened potting mixture, enclose the pots in plastic bags and stand them in medium light. Rooting should occur in six weeks.