Indoor Cubanola – Chocolate Scent Giant Plant – Care

One of the most amazing large-flowered tubs, Cubanola Dominican, fully justifies its status as a tropical miracle. Heat-loving, slow-growing, with huge and in many ways unique flower bells, Cubanola is a fragrant star with a complex character. She requires special conditions of detention. But for those who are looking for exclusive plants for their interior and have enough space for this beauty, there is no better (and more chocolate) candidate for the role of indoor giant.

Indoor cubanola is a giant plant with a chocolate scent. Farmer centerofthewebb

The big confusion with the portlandia-cubanols

Indoor giant Cubanola Dominican (Cubanla domingengsis) remains little known for most florists. Due to the similar appearance (and the cultivation technique), this plant is often confused with portlandia grandiflorum (Portlandia grandiflora). The confusion began at the dawn of the 20th century, when this unique plant was discovered and cataloged as one of the Portlandia.

Both plants are often sold in exotic shops and are designated in catalogs of indoor crops, confusing with each other, and such confusion reigns even in seed collections. There is no big mistake when using the name “Portlandia” in relation to Cubanols: one of the related species of Large-flowered Portlandia – Dominican, was re-qualified to Cubanols and “Portlandia Dominican” is synonymous with the name of Dominican Cubanola.

Scientists have long recognized Cubanola and Portlandia as completely independent plants – unique species from two genera of the same name in one family Madder (Rubiaceae). The leaves of both plants are oval and dark. Both Cubanol and Portlandia are ranked among the best “chocolate” plants, and only collectors of both can identify the plants by their aroma.

But still, it is not so difficult to distinguish gigantic flowering stars with large flower bells. In Portlandia, the crown is dense, dense, most often amenable to formation, and the bells – with a narrow tube expanding downward, snow-white and five-petal, hanging in bunches.

Cubanola’s branches are thin and long, they are rarely formed, and the flowers are light green-cream, with a cylindrical, rounded, massive and long tube, fused corolla petals, longer and not at all so graceful. Both plants are easily recognizable against the background of any exotic and each other: the snow-white grace of Portlandia can be easily distinguished from the light green “solidity” of cubanol.

If it is worth comparing cubanol with any plant, it is with brugmansia. Its somewhat rough, massive bells really remind of this intoxicating plant, though still remotely.

The popular name of the unique giant – creole bell (Creole bell) – as much as possible suitable for a special plant, as well as an affectionate nickname Lily tree.

Portlandia grandiflora
Portlandia grandiflora. Farmer Kyle Wicomb

Cubanola is a giant plant with extra large flowers

The status of an exclusive miracle of this island plant only underlines its uniqueness. But, unlike many relatives, cubanol does not belong to endangered species at all. Cubanols were previously considered only as endemic to the Dominican Republic, but some species are found in Cuba and Jamaica. Cubanola has become so widespread that it has become one of the most “common” plants in the flora of Thailand.

In the wild, this lover of limestone soil creates landscapes of stunning beauty, but when grown as an ornamental plant – both in the soil of a tropical climate, and in containers in regions with harsh winters – Cubanola fully reveals its unique beauty and gigantic dimensions.

One of the unique features of Cubanola is the integrity, harmony of its appearance. It looks great not only because of the unique flowering, but also thanks to the large foliage that forms an elegant elegant crown perfectly combined with it.

The maximum size of 4 m is typical only for cubanol growing in open soil. Container specimens are usually limited to 1-2 m, but in fact, the size of the plant depends on the conditions of maintenance and care.

Cubanols are rarely formed, giving them the opportunity to reveal their natural beauty. The slow growth of cubanol will pleasantly surprise those who are afraid of overgrowing plants: this exotic adds only a few centimeters a year, and it takes decades to reach its true size.

Cubanols produce shoots that are not very densely branched, rather thin and surprisingly strong and flexible. They can develop both as a shrub and as a compact, small tree with a thin trunk and a spreading sloppy crown.

Oval at the base and pointed at the tip, broadly lanceolate, large leaves of cubanola with an exemplary leathery texture attract the eye with a dark, rich, cold green, but fairly light color with a light matte bluish-silver bloom.

With a length of up to 12 cm in width, the leaves can reach almost 6 cm. Plants can retain leaves for the winter, provided the temperature is limited, or completely shed them. Metamorphoses of leaves, with a change in the usual dark green color to reddish brick, precede their fall, but at this time the bushes look amazingly elegant.

Cubanola Dominican (Cubanola domingengsis)
Cubanola Dominican (Cubanola domingengsis). Farmer xerantheum

Flowering and fruiting of cubanola

Cubanola Dominicana is one of the rarest stars in the category of large flowering exotic plants. The flowering of cubanola has become famous for many unique features – one of the largest flower sizes, unique aroma and exceptional color, which is rightly compared to melon shades.

Tubular, original, strikingly large (up to 20 cm), drooping straight down, with five almost fused petals of a flat limb and a long, wide, cylindrically-even “ribbed” tube, cubanola flowers do not resemble real bells. They expand weakly at the ends: a flat tube turns into an almost disc-shaped, star-shaped, wavy limb.

The flowers can grow over 20 cm in length. Due to the fact that the flowers bloom in pairs in the axils of the leaves, the illusion of a cascade of luxurious pendants hanging from the branches arises. Each flower is able to last at least a week, they bloom at the same time, and this makes the flowering seem endless.

The color range of Dominican cubanol is limited to light green color. The flesh of green melons and the color of carom – the palette of creamy light yellow-lime flowers usually evokes fruity associations. The size and scent keep the flowers from looking dull, and the glowing texture of the petals gives the whole plant a festive attire.

Depending on the conditions and temperature, cubanols may show darker greens on the edges of the tube, but these do not prevent the plant from remaining “fruity”.

Cubanola Portlandia is one of the most fragrant indoor plants. A strong but unexpected flower smell intensifies at night as soon as the sun sets, but it does not completely disappear during the day. Shades of hot chocolate in the sweet-tart scent of cubanol have won many hearts. This is one of the most “delicious” and spicy indoor crops.

Fruiting cubanol is not such a rarity, provided there is good lighting. Oval, with blunt tips, long fruits look catchy and massive.

Cubanola - open, massive, with thin long twigs, requiring a lot of space
Cubanola is open, massive, with thin long branches, requiring a lot of space. Farmer toptropicals

Growing conditions for indoor cubanol

It would be difficult to call cubanol a typical houseplant. It is spreading, massive, with thin long branches, requiring a lot of space. For her, both lighting and temperature are equally important, she does not like sudden temperature jumps, but she gratefully responds to stable conditions.

Lighting and placement

Photophilous cubanol is a very specific plant. Despite the fact that the plant blooms the more abundantly, the brighter the lighting, Cubanola does not like the midday sun, which always negatively affects not only the flowers, but also the greenery. To achieve a brighter appearance, including larger flowers from this plant, it is worth exposing cubanol to bright, but diffused lighting with possible direct rays only in the morning and in the evening.

Cubanols require a lot of space at a respectable age. But they grow so slowly that for decades they remain compact enough to be placed on a windowsill. Plants look most advantageous in solo parties and when placed on the floor, but their crown looks most densely when displayed in groups with other large crops.

Temperature control and ventilation

Cubanols belong to one of the most thermophilic indoor plants. The minimum value that they can withstand while preserving foliage is 10 degrees Celsius, and even then only during the dormant period in winter. If Portlandia has dropped its leaves or you do not want to keep it leafy, then for a very short time the temperature can drop several degrees lower.

Portlandia-cubanola can be taken out into the fresh air in summer and decorated with shrubs on a garden or terraces. They feel great on balconies too. But when taken out into the open air, you need to carefully monitor the values ​​ uXNUMXb uXNUMXbof night temperatures and choose protected, warm sites. Cold wind and drafts are very dangerous for this beauty.

This culture does not like sharp jumps in temperature, it can react to contrast hypothermia not only by dropping leaves, but also by the death of shoots. True, the plant recovers well with proper care for the next year.

Cubanols grow so slowly that they remain compact enough for decades.
Cubanols grow so slowly that they remain fairly compact for decades. Farmer Florida & Georgia

Caring for cubanola at home

Cubanola Dominican does not require super complicated care. But it must be systematic and thorough. The plant does not tolerate watering problems, loves high air humidity, and feeding must be carried out strictly according to the rules.

Watering and air humidity

Cubanols prefer regular, moisture-stable watering, allowing only the top of the potted substrate to dry out. Watering is carried out with soft water, the temperature of which should be several degrees above room temperature.

For the dormant period, watering is reduced in accordance with the condition of the plant, a decrease in the rate of moisture use and temperatures. The soil is dried approximately twice as much as in summer, avoiding both drying out and waterlogging.

Cubanols prefer to grow in high air humidity, but they cannot be classified as plants that cannot be grown without humidifier devices. They are quite content with spraying with warm water, which can be carried out several times a day in summer. But when placed in the company of other tropical plants, they will feel great with both artisanal and industrial humidifiers.

Top dressing and composition of fertilizers

Like most flowering plants, cubanola prefers feeding only during the period of active growth and flowering. They are carried out with the usual frequency – once every 1 weeks, with a standard dosage of fertilizers in liquid form. Foliar dressing and long-acting fertilizers for cubanola are unacceptable.

The plant prefers universal complex fertilizers, which can be replaced with potassium-phosphorus fertilizers during the budding period.

Trimming and shaping cubanola

Unlike large-flowered Portlandia, Cubanola Dominican is a very changeable plant and grows “by itself”. It is difficult to form: depending on the location and conditions, cubanola itself takes the form of a densely branching bush or a neat tree with age. And no cropping affects this shape.

Pruning branches that are too long and sanitary pruning of damaged, dry, thinned, weak branches are the only measures she needs.

Cubanola Dominican is a very changeable plant and growing "by itself
Cubanola Dominican is a very variable plant that grows “by itself”. Farmer Raffi Kojian

Transplant, containers and substrate

This exotic belongs to indoor plants that prefer transplanting on demand. Cubanola, even at a very young age, is transferred into new containers only when the roots are shown from the drainage holes. But the topsoil needs to be renewed annually.

Cubanols prefer to transplant in early spring. Plants thrive better in ceramic containers, but the only prerequisites are height, slightly wider and multiple drainage holes. The containers are increased by 5-6 cm for adult cubanol and by 2-3 cm for young plants.

Cubanols cannot develop normally in heavy, compacted soil mixtures. For them, the choice of the substrate must be carried out carefully and, unlike many large indoor tubs, simple garden soil will not work for them. Light, loosened, not compacted over time during irrigation, well-letting not only water, but also air, the soil mixture is a guarantee of the longevity of cubanols.

It is desirable to add perlite or other loosening additives to the substrate. Cubanols develop best in medium-alkaline soil with a pH of about 7,5, but it can develop normally in any slightly alkaline or neutral soil.

When planting on the bottom of the container, drainage is laid with a height of about a third of the height of the pot, and if the container is very large, the maximum possible (at least 10 cm). Cubanols are not transplanted, but loaded with a whole earthy clod. The plant does not like transplants, and any contact with the roots, and even more pruning of roots, can become destructive.

Diseases, pests and problems in the cultivation of cubanols

This plant pleasantly surprises with its resistance to pests and diseases, but only with diligent care. If hygiene and moisturizing procedures differ from the norm, cubanola becomes vulnerable to mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects.

On cubanols, especially when staying in the garden, powdery mildew and various types of rust and mosaics are not uncommon. In the garden, this plant is especially fond of aphids. It is very difficult to deal with any problems – both diseases and pests – with cubanols. Measures should be started immediately with the use of insecticides and fungicides.

Cubanola Dominican is considered one of the most difficult plants for independent reproduction.
Cubanola Dominican is considered one of the most difficult plants for independent reproduction. Farmer FlowersWeb

Reproduction of cubanols

Cubanola Dominican is considered one of the most difficult plants for independent reproduction. Cutting and rooting of cuttings takes such a long time that not many growers have the patience for them.

Air layers in moss and substrate take several years to take root. The standard method is wrapping the cut along the shoot.

In cubanols, non-lignified apical cuttings are rooted. After treatment with growth stimulants, they are planted under a hood in a light alkaline soil mixture and at a stable temperature of about 23 degrees and stable soil moisture they are kept for rooting for several months. The rooting rate is low. Cuttings are seated in individual containers, transferring only after mastering the previous pot, and not annually.

Growing from seeds will not allow you to admire large, sprawling bushes for many years. But this does not apply to flowering. The first bells of Cubanola-Portlandia are able to release in the second year, which greatly improves the expectation of reaching the true size of the bush and a real “show”.

Seeds lose their germination very quickly and are sown with bottom heating and light soil cover immediately after harvest. Seedlings must be handled carefully, they are hypersensitive to dryness and waterlogging of the substrate. Diving and repeated diving are carried out in the phase of 2-3 and 5-6 leaves. In the future, the change of containers is carried out only when the previous pot is filled with roots.


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Anna Evans

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