Pachystachis yellow is a favorite species of not such a large kind of ornamental shrubs, in which foliage and flowering are equally beautiful. Pachystachis can be found in the list of crops with the brightest color palette, with the most striking bracts, or among the best crops for modern interiors. For all its original and striking appearance, pachistachis manages to remain a rather unpretentious plant and requires stable, but by no means difficult, care. This plant gratefully responds to attention to itself and pleasantly surprises with age, although it requires control.
Pachystachis yellow (Pachystachys lutea). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Dr. Gary R. Bachman
Pachistachis yellow – bright flowering soloist with beautiful leaves
Pachystachis belongs to the Acanthaceae family and is a durable, stable ornamental plant, attractive even when no buds are blooming at the ends of the shoots. From the Pachistakhis genus, only 2 species are used as cultivated plants, but only pachystachis yellow (pachystachys yolks). This evergreen perennial is found in nature only in tropical forests, but on three continents – from Australia to East Asia and South America. The name of pachistachis is translated as “thick ear”.
Despite the fact that the size of pachistachis (on sale) is most often limited to 25-40 cm in height, this plant should not be underestimated for its size. The more mature the pachistachis becomes, the more bulky and branched it turns into a bush, flaunting not only its details, but also an impressive crown. Without control, this plant can grow up to 1,5 m, in order to maintain a more or less compact form, it needs constant formation.
A densely branched shrub produces erect, not too branching shoots, gradually woody from below and seemingly thin. Pachystachis branches are almost completely hidden under large leaves. Broad-lanceolate or lanceolate-ovate, elongated, with a pointed tip, leaves with deep protruding veins and a glossy surface create a strikingly impressive crown with a bright coldish color, which contrasts perfectly with the color of the apical inflorescences.
The bloom of pachistachis cannot be called otherwise than dazzling. The apical spikelets of inflorescences are formed by densely sitting yellow bracts with a bright, sunny yellow color. Tetrahedral, they seem to be radiant pyramids with a strict geometric structure, capable of reaching 10 cm in length. The true flowers of the pachystachis are white, tubular, with a thin corolla divided into narrow lobes. They peep out between the bracts, as if sticking out to the sides, giving exoticism to the whole plant.
The flowering period of this houseplant traditionally lasts from March to October, while the flowers fade quickly enough, in 10-12 days. But the bracts of pachystachis in dense spikelets last up to several months, providing the plant with constant decorativeness. Up to 20 inflorescences bloom on one plant at the same time.
The combination of tones of bright yellow and dark emerald green with light white blotches turns pachystachis into one of the most fashionable indoor plants. This culture is considered one of the best soloists, although it is possible to exhibit pachistachis in a group with other indoor exotics. When choosing a location for pachistachis, one should take into account the possibility of increasing air humidity. This plant is often called one of the most suitable for the interior of the kitchen, due to the increased requirements for moisture and the need to provide a stably warm environment.
Caring for pachystachis yellow at home
Pakhistakhis is not the most capricious, but quite demanding indoor culture. It can be recommended both for beginners who are ready to provide systemic care for plants, and for experienced flower growers. Tolerance to room temperatures, adaptability to lighting and the absence of any unusual watering requirements make the pachystachis a rather predictable plant. The most difficult thing is to provide this evergreen shrub with high air humidity that is comfortable for it, especially if you take into account that only conventional spraying is indispensable.
Lighting for pachistachis
Pachystachis perfectly adapts to light of different saturation and can be grown in partial shade or in a bright place, it blooms well regardless of the light intensity. The plant does not tolerate direct sunlight or strong shading, but in places with more or less bright diffused lighting, pachistachis blooms equally abundantly.
Eastern and Western window sills are considered ideal for this culture, but pakhistakhis will feel no worse in the depths of the interior, provided that enough light rooms are selected and not far from the window.
Artificial supplementary lighting is not the best idea for this plant, but if we are just talking about an easy compensation for the lack of light, then pachistachis will not refuse these additional procedures. Maintaining the uniformity of lighting allows you to achieve almost year-round flowering from the pachystachis. But at the same time, to compensate for the decrease in light in autumn and winter, it is necessary to take really significant measures, rearranging the plant to much more illuminated areas in southern locations with minimal supplemental lighting.
But if the pachistachis drops the inflorescences and it has a dormant period, then the need for lighting intensity decreases and the plants are either not rearranged to more illuminated areas, or they are generally moved away from the window to obtain contrast and more abundant flowering in the next season (but still – within the framework semi-shady places).
This culture adapts perfectly to normal room temperature. For pachistachis, it is important to control not the upper, but the lower permissible temperature values. Even during the coldest time of the year, the air temperature in the room where the pachistachis is located should not fall below 18 degrees. During the dormant period, temperatures of about 19-21 degrees are permissible for the culture, but throughout the year it is better to maintain the air temperature above 20 degrees Celsius. Pachistachis does not react very well to the heat, but high temperature values can be compensated for with appropriate care.
Particular attention should be paid to cold drafts and the location of pachystachis near glasses or windows, contact of pots with cold surfaces in winter, which can negatively affect the attractiveness and health of the plant.
Watering pachistachis and air humidity
For pachistachis, even a short-term drought can become destructive, while complete drying of the substrate at the roots must be avoided by any available methods. But waterlogging also increases the risks of the spread of pests and diseases. For this plant, you should set the watering frequency at which the soil will constantly remain uniformly moist. It is best to do this after the top few inches of potted soil has dried.
Winter irrigation for pachistachis is carried out very carefully, maintaining only light soil moisture. When kept at room temperatures close to the lower indices, pachistachis can be watered infrequently, up to 1 time in 2 weeks. If pachistachis blooms further, watering is not reduced.
Like almost all exotics in our interiors, pachistachis needs high air humidity. Complicating the process of creating an optimal environment for this plant is the need to use only the so-called atmospheric methods; abandon spraying, since the ingress of drops of water on the inflorescences is not permissible, it leads to decay of the bracts; in fact, the spraying method can only be used in winter or when the pachystachis is not blooming.
For pachistachis, a tray with water is installed without contact with the bottom of the pot or special humidifier devices. When placed in the kitchen or in other rooms with high air humidity, pachystachis does not need additional measures.
Despite the attractive shine of pachystachis leaves, they do not like rubbing or other processing. It is necessary to get rid of dust from this plant very carefully, with the help of a warm shower (just not at the flowering stage) or with the most soft sponge (cloth, brush) by hand. Rubbing the leaves with any pachystachis polish is strictly prohibited.
Top dressing for pachistachis
Fertilizer for pachystachis yellow should be applied throughout the year, making the procedures more moderate for the rest period. During the phase of active development for pachistachis, classic top dressing with a frequency of 2-3 weeks is suitable, but from September to February, fertilizers are applied 1 time every 6 weeks. For pachistachis, it is imperative to use a complex organo-mineral fertilizer, the balance of substances in which meets the requirements of flowering plants.
Pachystachis responds very well to long-term fertilization, especially in the form of slowly dissolving sticks or granules. Such fertilizers make it possible to simplify care and refuse feeding at any time of the year, subject to regular application and timely replenishment of fertilizers in the soil according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Without regular formation, pachystachis grows strongly, stretches and loses its attractiveness. In plants, before transplanting, it is necessary to remove all dead or damaged shoots, remove damaged leaves. After the end of flowering, the faded tops of the shoots are cut off up to the first pair of leaves, stimulating the preservation of decorativeness by the rest of the inflorescences and the plant as a whole.
Regular shortening of pachystachis shoots to 1/3 of the height contributes to the formation of a dense, dense and profusely flowering crown. On young bushes, it is better to make the first pruning sufficiently cardinal, up to a height of 10-15 cm to obtain a denser crown and a basis for further formation. From each side shoot on the plant, it is necessary to pluck out the third pair of leaves, tier by tier forming a dense and fairly compact crown.
On adult pachystachis, annual pruning is usually reduced to pinching the tops, which allows you to get a larger number of inflorescences. But if the pachistachis needs to be formed, the branches are pruned more.
Pachystachis pruning is traditionally carried out before or together with transplantation.
Pachystachis transplant and substrate
It is advisable to transplant this plant not as needed (after the roots have completely filled the substrate in the pot), but annually. A transplant after or simultaneously with pruning is carried out for this plant, regardless of age. The transplant period for pachistachis is classic – February-March.
For pachistachis, any universal substrates, purchased or compiled by yourself, are suitable. For it, sand, peat, humus and leafy soil are mixed in equal parts with a double portion of sod land. It is advisable to additionally add crushed charcoal or bone meal to the soil.
The procedure itself is quite simple. A fresh drainage layer with a height of at least 5 cm must be laid on the bottom of the container. The plants are not transplanted, but transferred, trying to avoid contact with the roots.
Diseases and pests of pachistachis
Aphids and whiteflies cause the greatest harm to pachystachis, but they are also rare on this plant. Pachystachis can be considered a resistant plant, problems on which are possible only in a very neglected state. If the pachistachis are healthy, then they are practically invulnerable. When signs of pest infestation appear, it is worth starting the fight immediately with insecticidal preparations.
Common problems in growing pachistachis:
- falling off of inflorescences and throwing off leaves with too dry substrate in a pot;
- curling leaves at too cold temperatures;
- dropping leaves in drafts;
- drying of the tips of the leaves in dry air;
- exposure of the lower part of the shoots as a result of natural processes and the need for rejuvenation;
- stretching shoots and shrinking leaves in too strong shading.
Reproduction of pachistachis
This plant is propagated only by vegetative methods. It is possible to reproduce pachistachis during the period of the most active growth and preparation for flowering, from pruning to early June. For summer cuttings, only shoots are chosen, on which inflorescences do not form, but more often they use branches left after spring pruning (if they have at least two internodes). And the process of grafting itself is quite standard.
Pachystachis cuttings 10 to 15 cm long are cut only from the tops of the shoots, making sure to cut at an angle of 45 degrees and treating the bottom of the cuttings for several hours with a solution of growth accelerators. Rooting is carried out under a hood in any universal substrate or mixture of sand and peat. For rooting of pachistachis shoots, a stable temperature of 20 to 22 degrees Celsius with daily spraying and airing is considered optimal.
On average, the rooting process takes 2-3 weeks. As soon as signs of rooting appear, it is imperative to pinch the tops of the shoots in the cuttings and transfer the plants to large enough pots with a diameter of about 12 cm, planting one or more seedlings in one pot to obtain a thicker bush. Already from the very beginning, on pachystachis, they begin to carry out the obligatory pinching of the lateral shoots and tops up to 4 pruning per year, forming a basic plant of a compact size with at least 12-15 tops.