Ixora - Fire Exot with Flawless Leaves
Inimitable ixora, despite the status of one of the most spectacular plants with a fiery flowering palette, remains a culture not too widespread. The thing is in the controversial reputation of this beauty, which many consider so capricious that even moving from store to house can lead to almost complete dropping of buds and flowers. But in fact, Ixora is not so untouchable and, despite her dislike of changing locations, she can become a real star of the room collection. The impeccable greenery of this beauty seems to have been created in order to serve as a backdrop for massive inflorescences, whose beauty fully pays for a considerable price, and the need for careful selection of growing conditions. Moreover, ixora, in spite of its abundant flowering, needs only a relatively cool wintering.
Acrylic inflorescences umbrellas plus almost perfect ixora leaves
An excellent relative of coffee trees, Ixora is often called a “fiery flower,” “a flame in the forest,” or “jungle fire." And all these nicknames fully justify the dazzlingly bright, acrylic shades of the color of the inflorescences. But the plant got its name not at all for the fiery palette, but in honor of the Hindu deity. Ixora is traditionally included in the list of the most spectacular flowering plants from the exotics class. Its status of "culture is not for everyone" leads to a fairly low distribution in flower shops, associated primarily with difficulties in transportation. The leaves and shoots of plants are very reminiscent of citrus trees (for example, non-flowering ixors can easily be confused with lemons or tangerines), although their green color is somewhat lighter and more saturated. But Ixora does not belong to their family at all, but to the Marenovs and is a relative of another beauty with leathery glossy leaves - gardenia. "Forest Fire" came to our interiors from the rainforests of Asia.
Ixora (Ixora) - evergreen shrubs, the height of which, even in nature, is limited to 1.5-2 m, in a room culture it even varies from 30 cm to 1 m, depending on the frequency of pruning. Brownish, fairly bright shoots are almost invisible under the mass of glossy leaves. Oval, with pointed ends, dense and leathery, the leaves of ixora are distinguished by a glossy surface and a prominent central vein. In length, they can reach 12 cm. The color of greenery at ixor is dazzling-saturated, bright green. Inflorescences are apical, blooming at the ends of branches. All ixors are characterized by dense, cap-shaped umbrellas of large-sized inflorescences, consisting of tight-fitting simple flowers with four sepals. The main feature of Ixora flowers is not only the perfectly symmetrical arrangement of an even number of petals, but also exceptionally bright, acrylic, pure tones of colors, uniform over the entire surface of the flower. Red, orange, pink, yellow or white inflorescences-caps with a matte color stand out effectively against the background of green leaves, contrast with their gloss and offer to admire the saturated colors. The flowering period of ixora in room conditions with good care and average humidity can stretch from spring literally until autumn.
Types of Ixora
About 500 plant species are united in the Ixor genus. In room culture, mainly hybrid varieties and varieties specially bred for pot growing are used, which, unlike species plants, are able to put up with conditions in enclosed spaces and are more compact and plentiful. Of the species plants, only 2 xora are found:
- Ixora javanese (Ixora javanica);
- Ixora bright red (Ixora coccinea).
In almost all respects, they are identical and differ only in the color of the inflorescences and the shape of the sepals. Ixora has a bright red color, despite the name, light pink or orange-salmon, flower petals with a rounded tip. But Ixora javanese is a bright red flowering plant with the pointed tips of the petals.
Ixora care at home
Perhaps the status of the capricious ixor culture was not accidental, but you cannot call it too demanding. Ixora really grows well in flower showcases and conservatories. But the requirements for air humidity of 60% and only a slight drop in temperature for the winter allow it to grow in a room. Of course, complex care is more suitable for experienced gardeners. But the unique and defiantly modern appearance of this exotic is as if created to decorate interiors.
Lighting for Ixora
In nature, this plant is accustomed to the most intense, "southern" lighting. Ixora fully retains its photophilicity in the room format, but at the same time the plant becomes more sensitive to direct sunlight. Xor should be carefully protected from the effects of the latter, but in choosing locations, you should still adhere to the strategy of finding places with the brightest lighting. In partial shade, and even more so in the shade, ixor cannot be grown, and the point is not only that it will not work to force it to bloom. Poor lighting is always a factor in the spread of diseases and pests on this plant, leading to loss of leaves (starting from the bottom of the shoots).
To maintain the usual stable conditions, you need to adjust the lighting mode in winter. It is advisable to rearrange Iksor to the most striking location in the house. Without light correction, its bloom will be more sparse.
In search of a location for Ixora, you can stop both on the eastern and western, and southern windowsills with the corresponding installation of scattering screens. This plant loves growing in a greenhouse with an additional, artificial light source, it can be partially grown at the backlight, but it still blooms better and produces more spectacular leaves while providing natural bright lighting.
With lighting, or rather with its stability, one of the most difficult moments of growing ixora is associated: plants do not like any rotation, not like carrying from place to place and moving to other apartments. That is why many flower centers and companies refuse to grow ixor: while the plants are delivered to the store, it can dump all the buds and flowers. But iksora will not perish and will not lose its ability to bloom in the future, so you should not be afraid of it when buying: the loss of one season will pay off with the beauty of a bright show in the future, and such a decline does not always happen, and experienced flower shops know different tricks that allow iksors not to notice the move. But the tendency to a bad reaction to a change of situation must be taken into account in everyday life. The flower buds of this crop fall very easily, even if the pot moves only a few centimeters. Ixora retains this photosensitivity only from the beginning of the moment of bud opening until the end of flowering. Therefore, it is better to leave it alone during the entire active season, not to transfer or rotate.
The status of a flowering culture does not at all prevent ixor from remaining a plant relatively unpretentious to temperatures. This is a thermophilic culture, which, unlike many other tropical plants, can bloom for several months, not at all in need of a cool, and even more so cold wintering. Standard winter temperatures of living rooms are quite suitable for ixora within the framework of restrained indicators (in winter this plant is better to keep in the temperature range from 16 to 18 degrees, while the air temperature in the room should not fall below 14 degrees).
As for the content in the warm season, the permissible temperature for ixora is measured by an indicator of 18 degrees. The plants develop best in the temperature range from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, and the more stable the temperature, the more blooming the Ixora.
To consider ixor sissy would be a big mistake. She does not like cold and cold drafts (they need to be protected from plants in the winter in every way), but she is not afraid of warm air flows, she likes ventilation and even needs constant access to fresh air. In summer, it can be placed in constantly ventilated rooms with open windows or taken out to the balcony and terrace, placed in protected places with diffused lighting or in partial shade, but only if the plant does not have buds (you can bring it back only after flowering).
Watering and humidity
Like most purely tropical plants, Ixora is a moisture-loving culture and requires abundant watering. True, she will need frequent procedures using a large amount of water exclusively during the period of active growth. The following irrigation procedure must be carried out after the uppermost layer of soil in the pots dries, preventing it from drying out at least partially in the average past. For Xora, it is important to maintain a stable average soil moisture. In winter, the plant goes through a dormant stage, prepares for flowering, and abundant watering can disrupt not only the process of laying flower buds, but also lead to problems with decay of the rhizome. In winter, iksora is transferred to a mode of moderate watering, and the soil in pots is allowed to dry not only from above, but also in the middle layer, maintaining only light moisture with rare and restrained procedures. The traditional frequency of irrigation for iksors: approximately 3 times a week in the summer and 1 time in 6-8 days in the winter.
It is very important to use quality water for irrigation, upholding it for at least 3 days. It is best to choose ixora water with initially mild characteristics. Particular attention should be paid to the temperature of the water, which should not differ from the air temperature in the room.
Requirements for medium-high humidity are one of the reasons why this plant is considered capricious. And it is thanks to him that most often they recommend to grow ixor in winter gardens. But it is possible to satisfy all the needs of the plant in room conditions, as this culture is content with humidity indicators of 60-65%. To do this, it is sufficient to provide as frequent spraying as possible to increase air humidity. In the active period of development, Ixora can be sprayed daily. But in the winter, spraying is carried out only to compensate for the operation of the heating system, lowering the average air humidity compared to summer. Ixora does not tolerate the accumulation of large drops of water on leaves and inflorescences. For plants use a fine spray. You can increase air humidity in other ways:
- install a humidifier;
- put the plants on a pallet with water or wet moss, expanded clay, pebbles, decorative soil (so that the bottom of the water tank does not touch).
Fertilizers for Ixora
Fertilizer for ixora is introduced only during the period of its active development. Top dressing begins in March and breaks off in August. At this time, Xor should be fed often enough, with a frequency of 1 time per week or 1 time in 10 days. For this plant, special fertilizer mixtures for flowering indoor plants are better suited. In winter, fertilizers for ixora are forbidden to be applied. Fertilizing is stopped, even if the plants continue to bloom in the fall, without fertilizing since September in any case.
An important condition for the decoration of ixor and preservation of the ability to copiously bloom, compact size and beauty of the crown is timely pruning. But unlike many other flowering crops, for Xxora, pruning is not stimulating flowering, but rather formative. This crop is cut off as needed. If the ixor remains compact and attractive, then you can skip cropping. But usually this shrub develops actively and without control, the crown’s compactness is not simply lost: the bush turns into a large giant, losing its usual appearance and unpleasantly surprising the bare branches. Therefore, after flowering is completed, the ixor needs to be inspected and all short shoots must be shortened. At iksor pruning is carried out half of their length. For this plant, it is very important to choose the correct timing of pruning. It is necessary to carry it out precisely after flowering, and not traditionally in the spring, before transplanting, otherwise your Ixora may not bloom at all or bloom only on branches that have not been pruned.
An important point in the cultivation of ixora is to restrain the elongation of branches and stimulate active thickening, which will increase the number of inflorescences due to a very simple measure - pinching the tops of shoots. Usually thickening is only good for the bush.
Transplant and substrate
Like most houseplants, ixors need a balanced approach to transplants. Young, actively developing specimens can be transplanted annually, but for adults, a transplant every 2-3 years is enough. These plants can be transplanted exclusively at the beginning of spring, during the period when new leaves and shoots begin to grow. Before transplanting, ixor is usually abundantly watered.
The substrate for ixora must be selected from among the loose and very nutritious earth mixtures. For this plant, a universal substrate, special substrates for gardenias or a self-made earth mix are suitable (in equal parts leaf, humus, sod, peat soil with sand are mixed). Some gardeners recommend simplified peat, sand and leafy soil in equal parts. A particularly important parameter for ixora is the nature of the soil reaction. This amazing tropicana prefers acidic soil, it feels bad even in neutral soil, not to mention alkaline. Optimum pH values are from 4.5 to 3.5. To prevent chlorosis when using settled, but initially hard water, it is additionally recommended to mulch up the substrate with clean peat.
The transplant procedure is classic. The only difficulty is laying a very high drainage layer, the minimum height of which should be 6-7 cm. When transplanting around the rhizome of ixora, it is advisable to maintain a soil lump, removing only loose soil and the upper, contaminated substrate layer. Immediately after transplantation, it is necessary to provide the plant with abundant watering, and within 2 weeks - active humidification of the air.
For this flowering crop, you need to select the appropriate containers. Despite the powerful shoots and impressive foliage, the ixors have a very compact root system, and they feel uncomfortable in large pots. Small tanks are selected for this culture, only a few centimeters larger than the previous ones, and grown under conditions of lack of free soil rather than its excess. Upon reaching a diameter of 40 - 45 cm, the ixora is no longer transplanted, but only the topsoil is replaced annually (until the plant remains viable).
Ixora diseases and pests
The negative features of ixora include poor resistance to diseases and pests. This plant is simply adored by scale insects, spider mites and aphids, which have enough small misses in care in order to occupy the entire bush. Of the diseases of Ixora, chlorosis is most often encountered, which is associated with iron deficiency and watering with too hard or cold water.
Common growing problems:
- curling leaves in direct sunlight;
- twisting or loss of turgor leaves with insufficient soil moisture;
- pale color when watering with too cold water;
- lack of flowering or stunting with insufficient nutrition;
- the appearance of yellow stains on the leaves with insufficient acidity of the soil;
- drying out, falling of leaves during drought;
- falling buds when moving the pot or at low humidity;
- loss of lower leaves in winter as a result of natural processes.
High prices for ixor, in particular, are explained by the fact that the plant is quite difficult to propagate. It is not always possible to obtain their own copies, and rooted plants often disappear, and the process of reproduction itself requires specific conditions and patience.
The only acceptable method for home conditions is considered to be cuttings. In ixora, apical and stem cuttings are cut about 10 cm long, making sure that the cut is clean and made at an angle of 45 degrees. Cuttings can be cut only during spring from young strong shoots, always before the appearance of buds. An equal amount of sand is added to the soil suitable for ixora. To root the cuttings, they must be treated with a growth stimulant and placed in a warm nutrient substrate, deepening by 1.5-2 cm strictly vertically. Cuttings must be immediately placed under the film and maintained for them high humidity and a stable temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Under ideal conditions, with ventilation, air humidity from 85%, cuttings root for a month.
You can try to grow ixora from seeds, but getting them is quite difficult. Sow the seeds in a light sandy-substrate mixture, only slightly sprinkling on top of the sifted soil. Humidify crops only after the distribution of seeds on the ground by spraying. The containers are kept under the film in a warm place with a temperature of 25 degrees. Seeds, while maintaining sufficient germination and good ripening germinate within 3 weeks.