Pizonia – New Zealand exotic

Pisonia can be safely ranked among the neglected exotics, the appearance of which can be easily confused with the more famous indoor cultures. This is a unique New Zealand ornamental-deciduous plant and it is true that in many ways it resembles ficus. But not only in size and not in patterns. The stained leaves of pyzonia seem to have been created artificially: the spots are as if applied with tempera or gouache. A denser crown and a limited meter size with large leaves allow you to bring much more interesting green accents to interiors than with the help of boring rubbery ficuses. But even the unpretentiousness of pyzonia has not yet inspired flower growers too much. It remains to be hoped that this unique plant with a friendly character will eventually compete with the room classics.

Pizonia is an umbrella form of variegat (Pisonia umbellifera f. Variegata). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com LaboratorTEBA
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Pizonia is far from a ficus native to New Zealand

Pizonia is so often completely unfairly confused with the most common and easy-to-grow ficuses because of the similar color of the leaves, which combines white-creamy yellow streaks with a neutral and muted base color. But this plant is different both in growth form and in character. Pizonia are evergreen shrubs, the maximum growth of which, even at a very significant age, is limited to 120-150 cm in room culture. In addition, these are far from lianas, but shrubs, strongly branching and creating a dense crown.

Being a more compact crop, pyzonia is much more convenient to use in the interior, being an extremely stable plant, which can be considered as a full-fledged green decor. Pizonia got their name in honor of the Dutch naturalist V. Piso. In its homeland, pyzonia is also known under the name “bird catcher” (the fruits are covered with a sticky substance, which is why not only insects, but also small birds are trapped). Pizonia is a very rare family – Nyctaginaceae.

In nature, pyzonia can be found not only in New Zealand, although it is precisely as exotic species from this country that they are most often sold. Wild pyzonia in Mauritius and Australia can grow up to 5 meters, but even in greenhouses, pyzonia will not reach a height of more than 1,5 m (two-meter, very old specimens are considered rarities). The compact size of the plant does not exclude them from the number of the most voluminous shrubs and woody in room culture, but you cannot call the giants of the pyzonia. Moreover, pyzonia is growing extremely slowly. The plant produces the same number of leaves per year as a standard palm tree produces 2-4 leaves. And it grows in height by no more than 4 cm. Therefore, when buying pyzonia in the form of very young and small plants, you should prepare for the fact that it will take a long time to wait from it for maximum effectiveness.

The crown diameter of this indoor culture is always somewhat inferior to the height, but the density of the arrangement of leaves on branching, powerful, beautiful shoots fully compensates for this deficiency. The bark of pyzonia is smooth and fairly light, with a brownish-gray tint. It is practically invisible due to densely sitting on the shoots, opposite, short-petioled large leaves up to 5 cm long.Glossy surface, beautifully visible veins, oval leaf shape and slightly wavy edge emphasize the feeling that the leaf blades are far from so dense and thick , like a rubbery ficus.

Pisonia in room culture cannot boast of an enviable variety. In nature, they are represented by fifty species, but in room culture they grow only one type of plant – Pisonia umbrella (Pisonia umbellifera). But the basic species plant is rare: almost always on sale Pisonia is an umbrella form of a variegate (Pisonia umbellifera f. variegated). If the common pyzonia umbrella is capable of reaching 1,5 m at a very venerable age, then the variegat will never exceed 1 m. The difference between the base plant and the variegated form, as it is not difficult to guess, lies precisely in the color of the leaves. The classic dark green in simple pyzonia is replaced by a wide variety of patterns in variegates.

Dark greens are colored with irregular spots, which on young leaves are painted in a dark pink tone, which gradually changes to light yellow and white. A distinctive feature of pyzonias is spots, they always look like strokes of paint that are superimposed on one another, creating more or less saturated shades. The patterns are so reminiscent of artificial ones that they seem to have been created by an artist. Thanks to the variegated palette, pyzonia turns into one of the best decorative deciduous plants with a graphic crown. She looks very modern, bright, able to fit well even into the most unusual interior.

Unfortunately, you cannot enjoy the flowering of pyzonia in the room (unless you are a happy owner of a winter garden or a greenhouse and a very old pyzonia). There is really something to regret: the tubular, surprisingly graceful and unusual pisonia flowers in rare clusters of inflorescences conquer not only with a variety of shades – from yellow and pink to light green and white, but also very pleasantly surprise with their sweet aroma. Pod fruits are tied only in nature, in greenhouses – extremely rarely.

Pizonia umbellate variegata (Pisonia umbellifera f. Variegata)
Pizonia is an umbrella form of variegat (Pisonia umbellifera f. Variegata). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Patti Prairie

Pizonia care at home

Cultivation of pyzonia will not cause trouble even for novice growers. The only thing worth paying attention to is maintaining light soil moisture and carefully protecting the plant roots from excess moisture. For the rest, pyzonia is ready to argue with any ficus: it is hardy, adapts well, copes well enough with any standard room conditions. And the beauty of the leaves of this decorative evergreen beauty will bring calm and fresh accents to any interior.

Lighting for pyzonia

“Birds” is considered a light-loving plant, but it is so afraid of direct sunlight that it is better to place it in partial shade. Strong shading does not tolerate, but any diffused lighting – both bright and more secluded – is only good for the plant. True, it should be borne in mind that the more contrasting the patterns on the leaves of pyzonia, the brighter the location should be. The eastern and western window sills with a diffusing screen are considered the optimal location for pyzonia, but places in the house similar to the northern windows are perfect for her.

When choosing a comfortable place for pyzonia, keep in mind that the plant develops best if the light is directed to the crown from above. Pizonia is best placed in floor pots. Most often, these beauties are used in halls, spacious rooms: a dense crown, despite not so large in size, seems massive and visually conceals the space. It is this massiveness that makes pyzonia a plant for large rooms and offices, and not for cozy bedrooms or offices. But on the other hand, in studio apartments, it can act as one of the most effective space dividers.

Comfortable temperature

Pizonia is rightfully considered one of the most thermophilic exotic cultures. Lowering the air temperature below 18 degrees for this plant is unacceptable even in winter. But during the period of active growth with a long daylight hours, from spring to autumn, pyzonia does not like lowering below 20 degrees Celsius. But at the same time, the plant does not welcome the heat either; it demonstrates the greatest decorative effect while maintaining stable temperatures from 20 to 22 degrees. An increase in air temperature can be compensated for by an increase in its humidity.

Pizonias do not tolerate even small drafts very well. They cannot be taken out into the open air (even simple ventilation must be done very carefully). For these plants, it is better to choose the most spacious and temperature-stable rooms in the house.

Pizonia umbellifera (Pisonia umbellifera)
Pizonia umbellifera (Pisonia umbellifera). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Forest & Kim Starr

Watering and air humidity

The hardest part about growing this indoor shrub is not to overdo it with moisture. Pizonia require moderate, very careful watering. They love stable moisture, but categorically cannot stand not only waterlogging of the soil, but even too abundant watering. The next procedure for this plant should be carried out only when the top of the substrate dries out not by a few centimeters, but by a third of its height. Moreover, this rule must be observed even in winter.

Naturally, in the cold season, due to the natural decrease in light and the rate of evaporation of moisture, irrigation is carried out less often, but it is still worth checking how dry the soil is. Drying out the plant too much will not harm, but it is better to stick to the generally accepted strategy. However, the pyzonia itself will signal an uncomfortable low humidity: the leaves of the plant with a lack of water become sluggish. If you notice this, then adjust the watering frequency. For pyzonia, watering more frequent, but with less moisture, is better: this way a more stable environment is maintained. In summer, the plant is watered with an approximate frequency of 1 time in 3 days, in winter – 1 time in 10 days.

The water quality for this plant plays a key role. For pyzonia, the water is defended for at least 4-5 days. Even a minimal chlorine content in water can destroy this plant.

Plants are not sensitive to air humidity and, while maintaining optimal conditions, do not need any measures to increase humidity indicators either in summer or in winter. If the air temperature exceeds 22 degrees Celsius, foliar spraying must be included in the maintenance program to compensate for the heat. The higher the temperature, the more often it is carried out and the higher the air humidity should be. It can also be increased by installing any – industrial or artisanal humidifiers.

The large glossy leaves of the plant simply adore wiping and polishing. It is advisable to remove dust from them regularly, and the use of special sprays for shine will only increase the attractiveness of pyzonia and simplify its care. The plant is very fond of soulfulness.

Top dressing for pyzonia

This evergreen plant is fed at a standard rate. Fertilizers are applied once every 1 weeks using a complex universal preparation. For all variegated varieties, it is better to replace the usual feeding with special fertilizers for decorative deciduous or variegated plants. Fertilizers are applied only from spring to mid-autumn. In winter, feeding is either not carried out, or a half dose of fertilizer is applied once every 2-1 weeks.

Pizonia umbellate variegata (Pisonia umbellifera f. Variegata)
Pizonia is an umbrella form of variegat (Pisonia umbellifera f. Variegata). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Ben Cody

Pruning pyzonia

Due to its slow growth, pyzonia does not need pruning. But a simple method of pinching the tops (the same as for seedlings or vines) allows you to stimulate the plant somewhat and achieve the release of more leaves throughout the year. Pinching or partial shortening can also be used when the plant has suffered, has recovered and it is necessary to return the crown density to it.

Transplant and substrate

Pizonia grow well in a standard substrate. A universal soil with a sufficient degree of fertility and high rates of air and water permeability is suitable for them. For an alkaline reaction, it is also better to choose an average value, choose a universally neutral soil with a pH of 6,0 to 7,0 or a slightly acidic substrate. The addition of a small handful of pine bark will allow you to achieve more beautiful patterns on the leaves and prevent many problems with adult pyzonias. If you are composing the substrate yourself, then mix in equal parts sand, peat and leafy soil. The addition of loosening components – vermiculite or perlite – to the substrate is only welcome.

Even the most adult pyzonias are necessarily transplanted annually. The plant does not actively grow the aboveground part, but in terms of rhizome development, it will give odds to any indoor competitor. Every year, the capacity for plants is increased, but not much – by 3-4 cm. If there is not enough space, the roots are too long, but when transplanting, you can safely cut the longest roots even half their length. Early spring is considered the preferred time for transplanting. Pizonia is one of the rare plants that is not afraid of the complete removal of the old substrate. Especially often it is recommended to resort to this method when buying pyzonia in flower shops at a considerable age: replacing the soil with a completely new one will achieve greater growth activity and provide optimal conditions for the pyzonia. But resort to extremes only if such a transplant is justified. It is better to carry out a standard transplant with the preservation of most of the earthy coma.

When transplanting a plant, the main thing is to lay a high drainage layer. It should be at least 3 cm for small pots and about 5-6 cm for large ones. For pyzonia, broken brick and expanded clay are considered the preferred drainage fillers.

Pisonia grow well in hydroponics and in self-irrigated pots.

Diseases and pests of pyzonia

Pizonia stands out for its unique sensitivity to over-irrigation. Any overflow in this plant causes the onset of the spread of rot. And dealing with them will not be so easy. Therefore, in the event of a struggle, the best strategy is prevention. But if problems could not be avoided, then try to save the plant by strong drying of the soil and transferring to drier conditions. But do not delay: if there are no positive changes, then it is better to resort to an emergency transplant with a complete replacement of the soil. Pizonia responds to such procedures better than most other indoor plants). In addition to rot, powdery mildew is also found on the plant, but only when buying an infected specimen or if it is untimely isolated from infected plants in the house.

Pizonia cannot be called invulnerable to pests. Since the plant is tolerant of dry air, a spider mite that loves such conditions can settle on it, but scale insects are also found. You can fight pests using simple methods – washing the foliage with soapy water. Pizonia are treated with insecticides only if simpler methods do not help. But with mealybugs, aphids and thrips, which are much less common on this plant, it is better to fight immediately with insecticides.

Common problems in growing pyzonia:

  • loss of leaf color or the appearance of yellow zones along the edge when the pyzonia is placed in direct sunlight;
  • shrinking leaves with strong shading;
  • loss of color in strong shade;
  • depressed appearance, rapid damage to leaves with waterlogging;
  • sluggish leaves when the substrate dries out;
  • leaf fall in the heat in the absence of measures to increase air humidity.

Pizonia umbellifera (Pisonia umbellifera)
Pizonia umbellifera (Pisonia umbellifera). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com JR Forster & G. Forster

Reproduction of pyzonia

Pizonia can be propagated exclusively by vegetative methods. Getting cuttings is more difficult than propagating by cuttings.

For grafting in pyzonia, only semi-lignified cuttings are used. You can cut them during transplanting or immediately after it, in the spring. At the same time, stem cuttings are less effective, and apical cuttings are more capricious. For rooting, it is advisable to treat the cut shoots with a growth stimulant using a soil made from a mixture of peat and sand, moistened several hours before planting. The cuttings are deepened by 2 cm. Rooting is carried out only under a film or a hood. A prerequisite is a stable soil temperature at the level of 21-22 degrees Celsius, supported by bottom heating. On average, rooting takes about 3 to 4 weeks. Young pyzonia should be transplanted into individual containers as soon as possible with a nutritious loose substrate that is standard for pyzonia. Caring for plants from the moment of transplantation is no different from caring for adult pyzonias.

Cuttings are obtained using standard technology, but vertically notched pizonia stems can only be wrapped with moist moss, and not with substrate. The incision is best done in the spring.

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Anna Evans

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