Acocantera Is An Ornamental And Fragrant Indoor Tree

Large indoor plants are especially popular today. One beautiful shrub can replace dozens of herbaceous stars, and the impact of the expressive silhouette on the interior of the room is difficult to overestimate. Maintaining their decorative qualities throughout the year, indoor trees and shrubs are valued for their versatility. One plant that has every trait good, from foliage to bark, blooming and fruiting, is the remarkably hardy Acocanthera. Undemanding and modest in character but not in appearance, it deserves far more attention.

Acocantera is an ornamental and fragrant indoor tree
Acokanthera delightful, or Longleaf (Acokanthera oblongifolia, synonymous with Acokanthera spectabilis). © Wolverine

Content:

  • Acokanthera - perfection in every detail
  • Conditions for growing indoor Acokanthera
  • Home care of Acokanthera
  • Diseases, Pests and problems in cultivation
  • Propagation of Acocanthera

Acocanthera - perfection in every detail

Acocanthera are members of the Cuthra family (Apocynaceae), although it is difficult to guess about the relationship with periwinkles by plant appearance, and growth form. After all, Acocanthera are evergreen shrubs of rather large size, which not only adorn themselves with luxurious foliage, but also inimitably bloom and bear fruit.

In nature, Acocanthera are quite rare mainly in Africa, being one of the most beautiful species of the local flora.

The name Acocanthera (Acokanthera) got from the Greek "sharpened anther". Throughout the world, this poisonous plant is known as the Bushman poison or poison bush, although its winter fruiting in English-speaking countries has led to another name, winter sweetgrass.

Acokanthera oblongifolia (Acokanthera oblongifolia, synonym - Acokanthera spectabilis) is the only species of Acokanthera used in indoor floriculture. And in garden culture in countries with warm climates it is difficult to call this genus representative, because all five species of Acocanthera are rather rare plants. poisonous shrub (Acokanthera oppositifolia ), which is difficult to distinguish from the others in appearance (only by the more roundish shape of the leaves). © Sheila's collection

How does acocanthera look?

Acocanthera are luxurious evergreen shrubs that can be admired for absolutely every feature from their leaves to their fruits. They are compact, elegant plants with graceful silhouette branches that look like little living sculptures and are well shaped.

The height of indoor Acocanteras depends directly on how the plant is pruned and whether it is restrained. An acocanthera will easily exceed 1 m when not pruned, but can be much more compact when shaped. Acocanthera grows fairly quickly, but the rate of growth can be controlled. The shoots are very thin, green even at a considerable age, they appear strikingly fragile.

The leaves of Acocanthera are simple, supronate, short-cellular, large, ovate-oval with a pointed tip. Reaching a length of 12 cm, they surprise with a perfect leathery surface with a bright glossy sheen and pinnate, symmetrically strict veining. The leaves are arranged on the shoots in strict order, creating an almost perfect ornament and rows. Against the impeccable foliage with bright, medium green coloration, the blooms seem even more spectacular.

The large axillary tassels of inflorescences, which seem to lie on cushions of strict leaves, appear to be a living work of art. Despite the massiveness of the inflorescences, each flower is visible in them - not large, but very graceful, with perfectly pointed petals, snow-white, with a short reddish tube. A subtle and unobtrusive fragrance as if enhances the beauty of the flowers.

The flowering period of Acocanthera under ordinary conditions starts in the middle of winter and lasts at least 3 weeks, but usually indoor Acocanthera blooms for several months and enjoys a second wave after a short break. In regions with harsh winters, they often bloom on the eve of winter, pleasing with two long two to three month blooms with a break of several weeks.

As with many African shrubs, acocanthera is capable of pleasing just in time for the winter holidays. From November to the end of March the lace of its inflorescences reminds of small winter wonders.

After fading the plant not only does not lose its decorativeness, but also surprises with the beauty of fruits. Among acocanthera there are both varieties requiring cross-pollination and self-pollinating varieties, but in our catalogs they are considered rare.

To achieve fruiting of room acocanthera, you will have to take care of pollination yourself. Large, inky, with a beautiful glow, the fruits in bunches decorate the branches and look like a real necklace.

In appearance, the fruits of acocanthera are very similar to olives. The entire plant is not poisonous to the fruit, although it is better not to eat them because of their strong cardiotonic properties.

Acocantera is an ornamental and fragrant indoor tree
Acocanthera fruits. © Plantaholic Sheila

Conditions for growing indoor Acocanthera

Reputation of Acocanthera does not match its character. Of the beautifully flowering crops native to Africa, this one is the least demanding to keep. The heat-loving Acocanthera "depends" only on light intensity and is capable of blooming even without cool wintering. It feels well on windowsills, but extra light allows you to use other options of placement.

When growing acocanthera it is worth taking into account its poisonous nature. The plant is not suitable for everyone, because the danger of contact with the sap secreted by the roots, shoots and leaves requires caution for those who have pets and small children.

Lighting and placement

Acocanthera, like most South African women growing in interiors, is demanding to the intensity of light. This plant likes diffused, bright light, in conditions of ordinary and not panoramic windows it needs several sun hours per day.

Acocantera is not only acceptable, but also allows the plant to grow away from the window, it is highly desirable in winter time. True, you can do without it, limiting yourself to moving the plant to a brighter place. Even in the penumbra the Acocanthera loses its ability to flower, but the foliage retains its decorative qualities even in the strong shade, that's why sometimes Acocanthera grows for decorating the interior with large-leaved accents.

Locating Acocanthera, you should choose eastern or western window sills. At southern windows, the plant can be shifted inward, guided by its signals as to whether lighting is comfortable for normal growth and development.

Temperature and ventilation

Acocanthera likes a consistently warm environment. The plant reacts poorly to both low temperatures and heat. You can get the best showing of decorativeness if the plant is kept in the room with the temperature about 20 degrees of heat all year round - from the minimum 18 to the maximum 25 degrees.

The plant likes to winter and bloom in slightly lower temperatures, but you must not allow the temperature to drop below 15 degrees. If it's not possible to lower the temperature to 15-18 degrees C the plant can stand warm winter (such regime won't influence flowering if the light intensity and humidity are kept). In summer the plant can be used as decoration of a garden or a balcony. The plant feels well in the fresh air and needs frequent ventilation. Acocantera is protected from active draughts and temperature variations both in rooms and in the garden.

Acocantera is an ornamental and fragrant indoor tree
Tolerance of acocantera allows for lapses in watering. © rastenievod

Home care of Acocanthera

The only difficulty in caring for Acocanthera is the need to prevent the substrate from drying out completely. The plant's endurance allows for lapses in watering, but their absence will not forgive acocanthera. And dry air is not the best option for it. Otherwise it is a surprisingly plastic plant, suitable even for inexperienced flower growers, which will please with blossoms with usual regular care.

Watering and humidity

Stable substrate humidity, without any extremes, regular, equal watering in summer and a little bit more rare in winter - here is the best strategy for selection of watering program for Acocanthera. The plant can be grown on hydroponics or in tanks with auto-irrigation. The frequency of treatments is set by letting the top layer of substrate dry out. Complete drying out of the soil for this culture is unacceptable, but overwatering, if we are not talking about constant waterlogging, will not hurt aconcanthera.

Water this plant only with soft water. When spraying and watering, make sure that the water temperature is a few degrees higher than the room temperature.

Acocantera is considered a difficult plant to grow primarily because of its moisture-loving nature, but it is relative. This plant will retain its decorativeness for many years and in dry air, if you do not miss watering. Of course, ideal conditions can be created only if the air humidity will not fall below 70%. Dry air, especially when violating the recommended temperature regime, is not destructive for Acocanthera, but if possible, it is better to create a stably humid environment.

For this shrub it is desirable to install an industrial or bush humidifier, but thanks to the large leaves the plant can be content with simple spraying. Dust from the leaves of Acocanthera is regularly removed with a damp sponge.

Fertilizers and composition of fertilizers

Fertilizers standard for this crop will do. If you apply fertilizers with a frequency of 1 time in 2 weeks from spring to autumn, the plant will not lack nutrients, but it's better to apply fertilizers all year round, reducing the frequency or concentration of fertilizers in winter by half. During active growth and flowering, the dosage, which the manufacturer recommends in the instructions, should be followed exactly, without reducing or increasing.

For acocanthera perfectly suitable universal fertilizers. If it is possible to choose special fertilizers for fruiting room plants, they can replace standard fertilizers.

Trimming and shaping

Domestic acocanthera may not be the fastest growing plants, but they are always stretching upwards and lose compactness with age. Pruning is done by leaving at least two buds on the shoots. Strong pruning is better than shortening the tips of the shoots and regular spring rejuvenation with removal of the oldest and thickening shoots. Plants only need to be trimmed once a year. Can be shaped to the desired contour.

Transplanting and substrate

For acocanthera it is better to provide annual transplanting or change the container once every 2 years for adult plants (with annual replacement of the top layer of soil). The root system of the plant develops quickly, it is quite powerful, so changing the substrate and container after flowering allows you to create more stable conditions for the shrub. Transplanting acocantera always in spring.

A universal loose and nutritious substrate can be used for this culture. Excellent for acocanthera are special substrates for shrubs and woody room-format, but you can also use a simpler earth mixture. If you prepare the soil yourself, it is better to make it on the basis of sod soil with additions of sand and leaf soil in a ratio of 3:1:1.

Transplanting with minimal contact with the roots is preferred for acocanthera. The plant is transplanted into new containers, removing only loosely crumbling or contaminated soil. At the bottom of containers for acocanthera necessarily lay a high layer of drainage. Decorative mulching of the top layer of substrate can be used for acocanthera.

Diseases, pests and problems in cultivation

Acocanthera is rarely affected by pests. Only spider mites and scales, which often infest the plant when it neighbors with unhealthy neighbors, pose a danger to the plant's large leaves. Usually, washing the leaves with a soapy solution and increasing the humidity is sufficient to deal with this problem.

Prevalent problems in growing Acocanthera:

  • stopped growth for up to 2 weeks under any change in growing conditions as part of a normal adaptive response;
  • leaf drop or partial leaf desiccation in dry air;
  • depressed growth or prolonged stopping growth in constant damp soil;
  • no flowering in shade;
  • no growth signs after pruning in low light.
Acocantera is an ornamental and fragrant indoor tree
The easiest way to propagate Acocantera is by cuttings. © Plantator

Propagation of Acocanthera

House Acocanthera is best propagated vegetatively. Seeds of the plant can also be used, but this option requires long years of rearing until the first flowering, and the seeds should be sown immediately after they are collected.

Acocanthera can be rooted with semi-timbered cuttings to obtain new plants. Cut off the tops of the shoots, choosing strong, strong shoots with 2-3 nodes. For rooting, it is enough to have cuttings 6-10 cm long. Cuttings are usually not treated with a growth stimulant, as these procedures do not increase the rooting percentage (it equals at best 50%), but they are necessarily put in water for several hours.

The cuttings are planted in a universal substrate, deepening at an angle for 1-2 cm. Rooting is carried out in bright light and under a hood with regular ventilation, not allowing the air temperature to fall below 25 degrees Celsius.

The acocanthera seeds are sown after harvesting (as quickly as possible). Sowing is carried out in low, wide flats filled with moistened substrate, spread the seeds 2-3 cm apart, and then cover them with a 5 millimeter layer of substrate on top and repeat careful moistening. Under glass or film, with stable soil moisture and at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, the plant demonstrates a fairly high germination rate. The plants are picked after the third leaf is released.

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