Oplismenus – variegated indoor cereal Ostyanka

One of the most spectacular indoor cereals, oplismenus or ostyanka, is a true exotic. This plant comes from the distant Green Continent and surprises with its growth form, beauty of variegated leaves, and character. An atypical member of the cereal family, this plant is not for everyone. Oplismenus needs regular renewal, quickly loses its decorative effect, is sensitive to moisture. But it is so modern and daring in appearance that it quite rightly claims to be the indispensable room culture.

Oplismenus short-haired, or short-haired oplismenus (Oplismenus hirtellus). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Diego Delso

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We are just beginning to look closely at amazing oplismenus. This plant is considered rare and exclusive, it is not found in every flower shop. But it is increasingly being introduced by designers in the design of modern interiors and landscaping of cafes and restaurants; and the demand for oplismenus is only growing. This is not surprising: creeping cereal is a great rarity in landscape design, then what can we say about indoor or greenhouse culture.

Oplismenus are herbaceous perennials that came to us from Australia and New Zealand. In nature, they are found in subtropical climates, and in rooms they retain a love of moderate temperatures throughout the year. In our country, oplismenus are better known under the simple name Ostyanka, indicating the key features of the panicle structure – protruding bright awns of the cereal.

Of more than a dozen ornamental species of Ostyankas in room culture, mainly one species is used – oplismenus short-haired (Oplismenus hirtellus). This is a medium-sized herbaceous perennial, surprising with its creeping shoots. The length of the stems is up to 50 cm. It is very interesting to observe the plant: the vertical growth of young branches is replaced by the gradual lodging and hanging of the shoots as they stretch. The twigs are capable of rooting at the nodes, which allows the oplismenus to create a very dense cover on the soil or show off in the ampels with an elegant dense cascade. From a distance, Ostyanka can be easily confused with Zebrina Tradescantia, especially when grown in hanging baskets.

The leaves of the oplismenus are typical for cereals, narrow-lanceolate, but their length is limited to only 10 cm. The basic bright green color for indoor ostyankas is considered very rare. After all, this cereal is most often presented on sale with variegated – decorated with white, golden, cream stripes – leaves. These are varieties of oplismenus obtained on the basis of the decorative form of the Ostyankas – variegates.

The cereal produces raised, tall peduncles, crowned with an elegant lace panicle of an inflorescence, one-sided, rare and translucent. Greenish spikelets with red protruding awns look amazingly original. But flowering is at the expense of foliage and it is better to cut off the panicles before the seeds begin to ripen. Ostyanka usually blooms in the summer months.

Oplismenus is grown in two forms:

  • as a compact ground cover in conventional containers;
  • in ampelous culture – both in flowerpots with legs and in hanging baskets.

One of the main features of the Ostyankas – the absence of a rest period – is conditional. The plant in ideal conditions develops throughout the year, constantly changes and it is because of this that it quickly loses its decorative effect, requiring frequent rejuvenation. But if there is no opportunity to maintain a stable temperature, in winter the plant is cool, the plant enters a conditional dormancy stage. So the activity of the development of oplismenus directly depends on the conditions of their maintenance.

Oplismenus are one of the surprisingly unpretentious and highly decorative plants, fascinating with the texture of greenery and their uniqueness. It is a modern houseplant that needs careful but not difficult maintenance and typical living conditions. The only difficulty in growing this cereal is its rapid degeneration, which makes it necessary to regularly carry out anti-aging procedures and renew the sod.

Lighting for Ostyanka

The creeping cereal pleasantly surprises with its adaptability. Ostyanka feel great in any light – both bright and partial shade. They are even able to tolerate not too much shading. True, the latter often leads to partial or complete loss of bright stripes on the leaves. It is still better to protect oplismenus greens from direct sunlight when placed on window sills. Ostyanka responds well to partial or complete artificial lighting without losing its growth shape or color.

Since Ostyanka looks best in partial shade, it is not at all necessary to place the plant on the windowsills: this cereal is perfect for landscaping the interior of the interior, areas near the windows.

Oplismenus, or Ostyanka in a pot with begonia
Oplismenus, or ostyanka in a pot with begonia. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Jane Horn

Comfortable temperature

Oplismenus in room culture retain their love of coolness, but even in winter, the temperature for them should not fall below 8 degrees Celsius. The minimum permissible temperatures should be clarified when buying, because some flower companies do not recommend growing ostyanka even at 15 degrees Celsius. The plant thrives best within a temperature range of 18 to 22 degrees in both winter and summer. Hot temperatures will require additional measures to increase air humidity.

For the summer, the Ostyanka does not even need to be taken out to the balcony; it is better to leave the plant in its usual room conditions. Since in the fresh air the oplismenus will not be protected from temperature fluctuations and changes in other indicators of conditions, such removal can become significant stress for it. Oplismenus are afraid of cold drafts, and you need to ventilate the rooms very carefully.

Oplismenus irrigation and air humidity

This indoor grass requires very gentle watering. Waterlogging is quite dangerous for a plant, but the oplismenus is not afraid of drought: it will stop development, lead to stress, affect the condition of the roots, but it is not destructive and the plant will quickly recover. A short drought only “inhibits” growth, and prolonged dryness can lead to shedding of leaves, which will require subsequent stimulating pruning and an increase in air humidity. It is better to avoid extremes, but the Ostyanka tolerates missed irrigations much less painful than overflow, which often results in death from rot. In summer, watering of oplismenus can be quite abundant, but it is imperative to control the degree of drying of the soil between water procedures, allowing the top layer to dry well. In winter, watering is carried out with a small amount of water and rarely.

The oplismenus will like the increase in air humidity, but it is not a vital measure, provided that it is not grown in hot rooms. But in order to maintain the decorative effect of the leaves during the operation of central heating systems or in summer on hot days, it is better to apply a refreshing spraying. If it is possible to provide the oplismenthus with stable indicators of air humidity of 60-70%, then the cereal will surprise with the brightness of its color, growth rate and even greater endurance.

Top dressing for Ostyanka

This is one of the rare indoor plants that are afraid even of standard fertilizing and they show bright patterns on variegated leaves only with a moderate amount of nutrients in the soil. It is better not to carry out top dressing for this cereal in a year after transplanting at all: the initial supply of nutrients is usually enough for the plant for normal development, provided that the recommended frequency of transplants is observed. Fertilizers for the Ostyanka are introduced in the first year only when there are visible signs of a lack of certain macro- and microelements.

For Ostyankas, from the second year of growing and after rejuvenation without transplanting, feeding is carried out not just regularly, but without interruptions. The standard frequency of top dressing is once every 1-2 weeks. Top dressing for oplismenus is carried out throughout the year, using fertilizers for decorative deciduous plants or universal fertilizers. The dosage of fertilizers is reduced by half or three times compared to the manufacturer’s recommended dosage in order to prevent excess nutrients.

Oplismenus short-haired, or short-haired oplismenus (Oplismenus hirtellus)
Oplismenus short-haired, or short-haired oplismenus (Oplismenus hirtellus)

The only significant drawback of the Ostyanka is its rapid degeneration. To maintain the high decorativeness of the cereal, it is better to renew the plants annually or at least once every 1 years. At the same time, it is not necessary to transplant the cereal: strong pruning itself causes active growth and renewal of the bushes. Instead of pruning oplismenus, you can simply replace the plant with those grown from cuttings. A cereal transplant is carried out only when they want to divide the plant, increase the capacity or the area it occupies.

Other pruning, including pinching or controlling the direction of shoot growth, is not necessary for oplismenus. But what will definitely not please Ostyanka fans is the need to regularly manually remove dry leaves from the bushes. It is also better to do the same with the panicles of inflorescences: as the inflorescences appear, it is better to remove them, because the ripening of the seeds can lead to a rapid loss of the decorativeness of the sod.

Both transplanting with division and pruning for rejuvenation should be carried out in early spring – in March, in extreme cases – in April.

Oplismenus prefers very light and loose substrates. The reaction of the soil can be either neutral or slightly acidic. For oplismenus, you can use special mixtures for cereals or universal substrates. If you make up the soil mixture yourself, then you can combine equal parts of leafy, soddy soil, peat and sand. Leafy soil can be replaced with humus.

A high drainage layer must be laid at the bottom of the ostyanka tanks, eliminating the risk of any stagnation of water. For this cereal, pebbles, perlite or expanded clay are preferred.

Containers for growing oplismenus should be shallow, but wide.

The greatest danger to oplismenus is represented by rot and pests that live in the soil. But if the plant is weakened, neglected, it has not been rejuvenated, then it can suffer in the heat and dry air from aphids and spider mites. Any problem should be dealt with with a combination of a change in care and an insecticide or fungicide.

Ostyanka, or short-haired oplismenus with simple leaves
Ostyanka, or short-haired oplismenus with simple leaves. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com KL Kyde

It is very easy to get new bushes of cereals. The bushes can be divided during transplantation into large divisions or separate daughter plants (rooted shoots), or you can root the tops or segments of shoots in which there are at least two leaves.

It is best to cut the cuttings close under the knot. Cuttings are buried in the soil at half the height. Rooting is carried out in any substrate under a hood, but you can also use a much simpler method – rooting in water.

Both delenki and rooted cuttings start to grow quickly and reach their maximum decorative effect after a few months. Oplismenus obtained from cuttings are not grouped, but planted one by one in a pot: the cereal grows so quickly and actively that it alone will create a dense bush; and you should not immediately create difficulties with a lack of free soil. A standard substrate is used to grow young plants.

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Anna Evans

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