Callisia Repens 'Pink Bubbles' Care Guide
Also called Sweet Bubbles, Pink Lady, Pink Panther, Pink Turtle, Bianca, Tangle, Tango and Tricolour! The Callisia repens - most often called 'Pink Bubbles' - is a pretty-in-pink, variegated babe that's super easy care in the right conditions (yes, there are a few tricks to know).
Once you know what to do (and not to do), she's so easy care and fast growing that you'll soon be chopping and propping with glee, giving away baby bubbles to delighted friends and family. Extremely easy to propagate. We give her a 2 out of 5 LTLC (Love That Leaf Care) rating. Find out more below...
Ideal temperature range for Callisia repens
You might not know it by looking at her, but this girl is basically a succulent! Warm and bright is the way to go. Warmer temperatures preferred, ideally above 16 degrees up to 30 degrees, but mine routinely nap through nights 10 or lower and cope fine. If yours have to put up with lower temperatures, do your best to get all the rest of the conditions the way they like it and they'll be fine. Keep an eye on the temperate range at your place with one of these mini plant thermometers.
Best light for Pink Bubbles
Don't be stingy on the light or Callisia repens will likely revert to green and become leggy. More like green bubbles than pink bubbles. Direct sunlight, or plenty of very bright indirect light, is the way to go to keep Pink Bubbles pretty pink and pale cream, with fully pink or variegated pink and green leaves, with bushy, dense, compact growth when kept indoors.
They thrive in full sun in winter, but may need to move to a spot with bright indirect light in summer to avoid those delicate leaves burning (you may discover lots of dark pink spots like freckles appearing on leaves with too much direct sun). Callisia repens are very hardy in the right conditions.
Watering requirements for Calisia repens
Callisia repens prefer being lightly moist. They won't mind drying out a fair bit between watering again, but not right to the bottom, and they really dislike having wet feet. No soggy soil for this sweetheart!
But just because she's a semi-succulent does not mean extended periods with bone dry soil is okay either, or you can end up with leaves turning brown and shrivelling up at the soil end of the stem. I recommend only potting into a planter with a drainage hole to avoid sitting in water, but also allow you to thoroughly water when needed.
When you do water, water heavily, and from the top, until water freely drains out the bottom of the pot. I prefer to water in the mornings so leaves dry before night-time to avoid the chance of mushy leaves. Top watering is often better for Callisia repens as the delicate roots tend to grow quite shallow. Bottom watering won't always fully saturate the top of the soil where the roots hang out. Top watering also flushes out excess minerals, helping prevent fertiliser burn, and if you water heavily, also forces stale air out of the substrate to be replaced with fresher air for healthier roots.
Best soil for Pink Bubbles
A well-draining, finer, airy mix is ideal for Callisia repens. Airy and free-draining so it doesn't get water-logged, but on the finer side for those delicate roots to take hold. Some succulent mix can be too chunky, so look for something finer (mine love the Bioleaf Succulent Fine Blend)
A few mixes that would work are a fine succulent mix, a 50/25/25 mix of 50% potting soil, 25% perlite and 25% succulent mix, or a similar free draining DIY combo using a mix of ingredients like fine orchid bark, fine pumice, perlite, fern fibre. If you're not the best at remembering to water, then increase the potting soil or add some fern fibre or vermicilite to increase water retention.
Best fertiliser for Pink Bubbles
Callisia repens should grow for you all year round in the right conditions, but if you want to give them a boost, fertilise lightly when they're growing. My current go-to is either GT Foliage Focus or Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro as both are complete fertilisers, formulated for indoor plants, with no urea, which can otherwise burn their more delicate roots and leaves. GT goes a step further with no chlorides either to further reduce the risk of fertiliser burn.
Callisia repens pro tips & problem solving
There are two usual reasons for leggy growth on Callisia repens (where you're getting longer lengths of stem between the leaves). The most common reason is not enough light, causing the plant to stretch to seek more light, the other is not pruning.
Find a brighter spot, or even direct sunlight (mine get a few hours direct sun every morning), and regularly pinch back the tips and the growth will double-up further down the stem. Voila! Lovely and bushy again.
If you prefer that cute rounded bubble shape, don't let her trail. Regularly trim into a round, compact shape instead. Totally up to you on what look you like as she'll readily trail down the sides of her pot if you let her. You can regularly trim and re-pot back in to the same pot if she gets any bald patches on top.
Callisia repens changing from pink to green, losing variegation
Regularly trim off any solid green stems, right back to where the stem was last pink or variegated, to focus growth on pink, cream and variegated leaves. Even if regularly trimmed, without enough light they can still revert to green, so also check yours is getting the light they need.
I give my Callisia girls direct sunlight in winter, and very bright indirect light in summer (as the hotter summer sun can cause leaf burn otherwise). Whatever's caused it for you, trim back to where the stem is variegated to encourage new variegated, pink and cream growth, and regularly trim those solid green stems back. See this example below, where the leaves changed from variegated to green on the same stem? I'd trim where I'm pointing so new leaves continue to be variegated...
Spots on her pink bits!
If you notice her pink and cream leaves starting to yellow or get freckles and spots, back off a bit on the light. You're seeing some early sunburn, and although she's a succulent, too much or too strong light can burn the more delicate, lighter leaves. Listen to those leaves and change her light.
Small or dull coloured leaves
Both small leaves and dull, yellowing or browning leaves are signs of under-watering or leaf burn. You'll probably know which the likely cause is between the two, but if in doubt, try both watering less and changing her light situation. If you do fertilise, check if the fertiliser you use is free of urea, or when you do water, give a really thorough top water to flush out excess minerals that can cause fertiliser burn.
How to propagate Callisia repens Pink Bubbles
Honestly, so easy to propagate it seems like cheating. Chop off a stem worth keeping. Pick one with at least some green or partially green leaves on it (a stem that is fully pink or cream is highly unlikely to root).
Strip off the bottom 2 or 3 leaves and then push the bare stem end into the substrate, up to where the leaves start - done! Just pop the pot full of cuttings back on the windowsill with the others and you'll soon have a lush new plant to keep or gift.
I use a fine succulent mix to propagate, and have used perlite with great success also, but another popular option is vermiculite. Give the soil a good soaking (ideally with CCS or a similar propagation fertiliser to encourage that initial root growth), and let the excess water drain out.
I pack little 10cm grow pots with a tonne of cuttings so I end up with a new full plant, and within weeks they've rooted and are shooting out new leaves. Transporting them sucks a bit when it's time to pot up though. Try to do it in one clump if you can. Wait longer than you think to pot up, as their roots are annoyingly fine, so the more growth, and more tangled up they are together, the easier it is to repot.
They root so easily you could just prop straight in to the size of pot you'd want them in when big, but that needs a tonne more cuttings to cover the soil. I find the new growth can be unpredictable sometimes, so if I get a lot of green or almost solid green, I just keep trimming and replanting the desirable stems till I get a pot full of frothy pink and variegated gorgeousness!
LTLC Rating (Love That Leaf Care Rating)
I give the Callisia repens 'Pink Bubbles' a 2 out of 5. (1 being the easiest, 5 being the hardest). So easy care she almost deserves a 1, but only if given the right conditions, so I bumped her up a level. She does need that regular prune to stop her getting leggy or reverting to green, but given plenty of light, a regular haircut, and soil kept lightly moist, she'll grow like mad for you - and she's crazy easy to propagate too. Win win!