Ixora – fiery exotic with flawless leaves

The inimitable Ixora, despite its status as one of the most spectacular plants with a fiery palette of flowering, remains a culture not too widespread. It’s all about 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, is able to become a real star of the room collection. The flawless greenery of this beauty seems to have been created in order to serve as a background for massive inflorescences, the beauty of which fully pays for both the considerable price and the need for careful selection of growing conditions. Moreover, despite its abundance, Ixora needs only a relatively cool winter.

Ixora bright red (Ixora coccinea). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Farzana Rahman
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Acrylic Umbrellas of Inflorescences Plus Nearly Perfect Ixora Leaves

The magnificent cousin of coffee trees, Ixora, is often referred to as the “fiery flower”, “the flame in the forest” or “the jungle fire”. And all these nicknames fully justify the dazzling, acrylic colors 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 exotic class. Its status as a “culture not for everyone” leads to a rather low distribution in flower shops, associated primarily with transportation difficulties.

The leaves and shoots of plants are very reminiscent of citrus trees (so, non-flowering ixors are easy to confuse 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 tropical forests of Asia.

Ixora (Ixora) – evergreen shrubs, the height of which, even in nature, is limited to 1,5-2 m, in room culture it even ranges from 30 cm to 1 m, depending on the frequency of pruning. Brown, fairly light shoots are practically invisible under the mass of glossy leaves. Oval, with pointed ends, dense and leathery, Ixora leaves are distinguished by a glossy surface and a prominent central vein. In length, they can reach 12 cm. The color of greens in Ixors is dazzlingly saturated, bright green. Apical inflorescences bloom at the ends of the branches. All ixors are characterized by dense, cap-like umbrellas of large inflorescences, consisting of densely seated 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 colors 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 rich colors. The flowering period of ixora in room conditions with good care and average humidity can stretch from spring to literally autumn.

Ixora species

The genus Ixora combines about 500 plant species. In indoor culture, they mainly use hybrid varieties and varieties specially bred for pot cultivation, which, unlike species plants, are able to put up with indoor conditions and are more compact and abundant. Of the specific plants, only 2 ixors are found:

  1. Ixora javanica;
  2. Ixora bright red (Ixora coccinea).

In almost all characteristics, 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 salmon orange, flower petals with a rounded tip. Javanese Ixora, on the other hand, is a bright red flowering plant with pointed petal tips.

Ixora javanica
Ixora javanica. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Rohini Lakshane

Ixora care at home

The status of the culture of the capricious Ixora, perhaps, did not get by accident, but you cannot call it too demanding. Ixora does grow well in flower displays and conservatories. But the requirements for air humidity of 60% and only a slight drop in temperatures for the winter is quite possible to grow it in a room. Of course, complex care is more suitable for experienced flower growers. 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 completely retains its photophilousness in indoor format, but at the same time the plant becomes more sensitive to direct sunlight. Ixor must 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, Ixora cannot be grown, and the point is not only that it will not work to make it bloom. Poor lighting is always a factor in the spread of diseases and pests on this plant, leading to the loss of leaves (starting from the bottom of the shoots).

To maintain the usual stable conditions, it is necessary to adjust the lighting regime in winter. It is advisable to rearrange Ixor to the brightest location in the house. Without lighting correction, it will bloom more poorly.

In search of a location for Ixora, you can stop at both the eastern and western as well as southern windowsills with the appropriate installation of diffusing screens. This plant loves growing in a greenhouse with an additional, artificial light source, can be partially grown in supplementary lighting, but still blooms better and produces more effective leaves when provided with natural bright lighting.

One of the most difficult moments of growing Ixora is connected with lighting, more precisely, with its stability: plants do not like any turning, 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 shed all the buds and flowers. But Ixora will not die and will not lose the ability to bloom in the future, so you should not be afraid of this when buying: the loss of one season will pay off with the beauty of a bright show in the future, and such a fall does not always occur, and experienced flower shops know various tricks that allow Ixora not notice the move. But the tendency to react badly to a change of scenery must be taken into account in everyday life.

Flower buds in this culture fall off very easily, even if the pot is moved only a few centimeters. Ixora retains this photosensitivity only from the beginning of the moment the buds open and until the end of flowering. Therefore, it is better to leave it alone during the entire active season, not to carry it or turn it around.

Comfortable temperature

The status of a flowering culture does not at all prevent Ixora from remaining a plant that is relatively unpretentious to temperatures. This is a thermophilic culture that, unlike many other tropical plants, is capable of blooming for several months, without requiring a cool, let alone cold wintering. The standard winter temperatures of living rooms are quite suitable for Ixora within the framework of restrained indicators (in winter it is better to keep this plant 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. Plants develop best in a temperature range of 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, and the more stable the temperature, the more abundant Ixora blooms.

It would be a big mistake to consider Ixora a sissy. She does not like cold weather and cold drafts (plants must be protected from them in every possible way), but she is not afraid of streams of warm air, loves 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, placing it in sheltered places with diffused lighting or in partial shade, but only if there are no buds on the plant yet (you can bring it back only after flowering).

Ixora yellow
The yolk sac. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com chhajedgarden

Watering and air humidity

Like most purely tropical plants, Ixora is a moisture-loving crop and requires abundant watering. True, frequent procedures using a large amount of water will be needed for her exclusively during the period of active growth. The next watering procedure must be carried out after the topmost layer of soil in the pots dries up, preventing it from drying out at least partially in the middle layer. It is important for Ixora 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 rhizome decay. For the winter, Ixora is transferred to a moderate watering regime, the soil in the pots is allowed to dry out not only from above, but also in the middle layer, maintaining only light moisture with rare and restrained procedures. The traditional frequency of watering for Ixors: approximately 3 times a week in summer and 1 time in 6-8 days in winter.

It is very important to use good quality water for irrigation, settling it for at least 3 days. It is best to choose water with initially soft characteristics for Ixora. 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 ranked as capricious. And it is thanks to him that Ixora is most often recommended to grow in winter gardens. But it is possible to satisfy all the needs of the plant in indoor conditions, since this culture is content with moisture indicators of 60-65%. To do this, it is enough to provide as frequent spraying as possible in order to increase the humidity of the air. In the active period of development, Ixora can be sprayed daily. But in 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 the humidity in the air in other ways:

  • install a humidifier;
  • put the plants on a pallet with water or wet moss, expanded clay, pebbles, ornamental soil (so that the bottom of the container does not touch the water).

Top dressing for ixora

Fertilizer for ixora is applied only during the period of its active development. Top dressing starts in March and ends in August. At this time, Ixora needs to be fed quite often, with a frequency of 1 time per week or 1 time per 10 days. For this plant, special fertilizer mixtures for flowering houseplants are better suited. In winter, it is forbidden to make fertilizers for Ixora. Top dressing is stopped, even if the plants continue to bloom in the fall, without fertilizing since September in any case.

Ixora orange
Ixora orange. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com flowerceo

Ixora pruning

Timely pruning is an important condition for the decorative effect of ixors and the preservation of the ability to bloom abundantly, compact size and beauty of the crown. But unlike many other flowering crops, Ixora does not need pruning that stimulates flowering, but a formative one. This culture is pruned as needed. If the Ixora remains compact and attractive, then the trim can be skipped. But usually this shrub develops actively and without control, the compactness of the crown is not just lost: the bush turns into a large giant, losing its usual appearance and unpleasantly surprising with the bare bottom of the branches. Therefore, after the completion of flowering, the Ixora must be examined and all long shoots must be shortened. On ixor, trimming is carried out at half of their length. For this plant, it is very important to choose the right pruning timing. It is necessary to carry it out 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 cut off.

An important point in growing ixora is to curb the elongation of the branches and stimulate active thickening, which will provide an increase in the number of inflorescences due to a very simple measure – pinching the tops of the shoots. Usually, thickening is only good for the shrub.

Transplant and substrate

Like most indoor plants, Ixors need a balanced approach to transplanting. Young, actively developing specimens can be transplanted annually, but for adults it is enough to transplant every 2-3 years. These plants can be transplanted only at the beginning of spring, during the period when new leaves and shoots begin to grow. Ixora is usually watered abundantly before transplanting.

The substrate for Ixora must be chosen from among loose and very nutritious soil mixtures. For this plant, a universal substrate, special substrates for gardenias or an independently compiled soil mixture are suitable (leafy, humus, sod, peat soil is mixed in equal parts with sand). Some growers recommend a simplified soil of peat, sand and leafy soil in equal parts. The nature of the reaction of the soil seems to be a particularly important parameter for Ixora. This amazing Tropicana prefers acidic soil, does not feel well even in neutral soil, not to mention alkaline. Optimum pH values ​​are between 4,5 and 3,5. To prevent chlorosis when using settled, but initially hard water, it is additionally recommended to mulch up the substrate with pure 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 ixora rhizome, it is advisable to keep the soil ball, removing only free soil and the upper, contaminated substrate layer. Immediately after transplanting, it is necessary to provide the plant with abundant watering, and within 2 weeks – active air humidification.

For this flowering culture, you need to choose the right containers. Despite their powerful shoots and impressive foliage, Ixors have a very compact root system and feel uncomfortable in large pots. For this culture, small containers are selected, only a few centimeters larger than the previous ones, and grown in conditions of a shortage of free soil rather than its excess. When a diameter of 40 – 45 cm is reached, the ixora is no longer transplanted, but only the top layer of the soil is replaced annually (until the plant retains its viability).

Ixora
Ixora

Ixora diseases and pests

The negative traits 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 mistakes in care in order to occupy the entire bush. Of the diseases of ixora, chlorosis is most common, which is associated with iron deficiency and watering with too hard or cold water.

Common growing problems:

  • curling leaves in direct sunlight;
  • curling or loss of turgor by leaves with insufficient soil moisture;
  • pale color when watered with too cold water;
  • lack of flowering or stunted growth with insufficient feeding;
  • the appearance of yellow streaks on the leaves with insufficient soil acidity;
  • drying out, falling leaves during drought;
  • falling off of buds when moving the pot or at low air humidity;
  • loss of lower leaves in winter as a result of natural processes.

Reproduction of ixors

The high prices for ixora, in particular, are explained by the fact that the plant is quite difficult to propagate. It is not always possible to get your own specimens, and rooted plants often disappear, and the reproduction process itself requires specific conditions and patience.

The only acceptable method for home conditions is cuttings. In Ixora, the 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 only be cut during the spring from young strong shoots, always before the buds appear. An amount of sand equal to its volume 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 nutritious 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 take root within a month.

Ixora pink
Ixora pink. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Rootbridges

You can try growing Ixora from seeds, but getting them is quite difficult. Seeds are sown in a light sandy-substrate mixture, only lightly sprinkling with sifted soil on top. The crops are moistened only after the seeds are spread over 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 maturation, germinate within 3 weeks.

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Anna Evans

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