Curculigo Molineria - Gorgeous Leaves With Minimal Care

One of the easiest "green" indoor plants to grow, the curculigo does not seem humble at all. The beautiful leaves in dense clumps resemble the lobes of palm leaves. Perfectly shaped, bright, unusual, the leaves of curculigo captivate with their bright green hue and their modern minimalism. This plant blends beautifully into interiors, arranging unobtrusive, pleasing accents in collections and solo lots. Curculigo is one of the most appreciative and undemanding indoor plants. Although it has long been reclassified as a molineria, it is one of the most recognizable.

Curculigo Molineria - gorgeous leaves with minimal care
Curculigo molineria - gorgeous leaves with minimal care. © David J. Stang

Content:

  • Pretty bulbous curculigo with palm leaves
  • Species of curculigo
  • Conditions for growing indoor curculigo
  • Home care for curculigo
  • Diseases, Pests and problems in cultivation
  • Propagation of curculigo

An onion-like curculigo with palm leaves

Categorizing curculigo is often difficult. This plant used to be assigned to the Amaryllis family, and out of habit it often continues to be recorded today in the ranks of indoor bulbs. In spite of the fact that the only indoor curculigo was long ago reclassified to another genus, the Molineria, and to another family - now the curculigo is in the Hypoxidaceae family (Hypoxidaceae) - the plant is still found on the shelves under its old name.

The plant is sold and advertised as a simple herbaceous perennial with decorative leaves, paying almost no attention to the nature of growth and peculiarities of the plant structure, which provide both endurance and such a simple character.

Came to us this amazing plant from India, where thickets of curculigo create impressive masses and perfectly complement the appearance of local exotic flora. This crop can also be found in other southeast Asian countries, but associations with Indian flora have become canonical.

Curculigo molineria is often described as a modest room plant, a small potted accent, but in fact it is far from a small crop, which can be compared in size and role in the interior with indoor sansevieria trifolia.

Curculigo belongs to the evergreen herbaceous perennials. The plant is often described as a perennial with a shortened or subterranean stem, but in fact it does not form shoots and what looks like a stem is the upper part of a vertical growing, thickened rhizome from which the root leaves grow.

The leaves of the curculigo are very easy to recognize to anyone who has grown palms from seed: they do look like the undivided wyes of a palm - solid, rigid, very pretty, with longitudinal veining. Folded and sturdy, curculigo leaves can grow from 1m to 1.2m long depending on the species. Leaves can be up to 15 cm wide. Their lanceolate form seems exemplary: wide enough, with elongated ends, the leaves captivate not only by a beautiful folded-corrugated structure, but also by a very beautiful and bright shade of dark green color.

The leaves sit on short grooved petioles, they are beautifully bent backwards, and most often not in the same direction, which enhances the effect of dense clumps and creates an interesting play of lines. Curculigo leaves are very fragile. They do not recover from injuries, so you need to handle the plant very carefully.

Flowering curculigo molineria rarely called decorative, but it is not at all unremarkable. Grayish-yellow with subdued coloration, somewhat reminiscent of lilies, flowers with massive stamens are collected in small brushes and inflorescence heads at the very base of the leaves. The flowers seem to be bashfully hidden under bracts as long as the flower itself, the decorative dense pubescence of which makes the whole plant quite exotic. The comparison with lilies is not accidental: the flower consists of backwardly bent, triangular-lanceolate, acuminate sepals at the edges.

The flowering period of curculigo usually covers the whole summer. Some plants bloom in May, others only in June, but flowering may last until September.

Curculigo Molineria - gorgeous leaves with minimal care
Small-headed Molineria, or Curculigo obtuse, Curculigo recurvata (Molineria capitulata, synonym Curculigo recurvata). © toptropicals

Species of Curculigo

Molineria small-headed, or Curculigo turned away, Curculigo recurved (Molineria capitulata, synonym Curculigo recurvata) still remains the only indoor species of Curculigo, despite the fact that the plant was reclassified to the genus Molineria quite some time ago.

The broadly lanceolate, elongated tip, stiff, folded, sessile on short petioles, unfurling in different directions in groups, growing up to 1 m in length, the leaves of this species of "ex-curculigo" in the rooms look impressive. And even the unsightly flowering with yellowish-pale tone of graceful bell-shaped flowers in the heads of inflorescences cannot detract from their beauty. Flowering of this plant lasts from May until September.

Conditions for cultivation of indoor curculigo

Curculigo-Molineria easily adapts to insufficient light, but has somewhat unusual requirements for temperature of maintenance. Due to its love of coolness, the plant has earned a reputation as one of the best species for decorating halls and lobbies, public buildings and offices. But the curculigo also feels comfortable in rooms. It doesn't even need to create a special resting phase.

Lighting and placement

This is one of the most shade-tolerant indoor plants (subject to slow adaptation to minimum light). It doesn't like direct midday rays, but in diffused light it will happily live both on a windowsill and in the interior, provided it chooses semi-shady and partly shady locations.

Curculigo feels great in rooms with windows of eastern, western and northern orientation. Stability of light throughout the year is important, so most often the plant is moved to lighter locations in winter to maintain decorative leaves. It doesn't need extra light and tolerates lack of it even when the daylight hours are strongly reduced.

One of the curculigo's most unusual features, which also makes it somewhat similar to some palms, is its dislike of contact. Curculigo will not grow normally if the leaves touch walls or other plants. It is a solitary crop that can be placed in the same place as other potted plants, but at some distance, excluding too close groups. The exceptional fragility of its leaves requires it to be handled with care.

Temperature and ventilation

Curculigo loves a consistently warm temperature. It's as if living room conditions were specially created for this plant, because it reveals its highest growth rate and beauty at a temperature of about 23 degrees of heat. During the active growth period it is undesirable that the temperature drops below 18 degrees Celsius. In the resting period short-term drops to 13 degrees are allowed. But it is better to leave the temperature unchanged or at least not below 18 degrees.

Curculigo does not respond very well to temperature fluctuations. It is better to protect curculigo bushes from draughts, but it is still necessary to air the room more often.

Curculigo Molineria - gorgeous leaves with minimal care
Blooming curculigo. © hiveminer

Curculigo care at home

Growing curculigo-molineria is possible even for beginner florists. The plant requires neither procedures to increase humidity, nor complicated care. All you need to remember is the susceptibility of the leaves to injury and the plant's fear of sloppy and too generous watering.

Pouring and humidity

Pouring for curculigo should be regular, but quite restrained.  The plant develops quickly in summer, so watering should be more frequent, but both during active growth and in the rest period, the care in watering is better than generosity. Overwatering the soil curculigo does not like, short drought is not afraid. The best way to water the plant, giving between these procedures to dry out the substrate almost half.

Curculigo molineria happy to respond to spraying, but it feels good in ordinary living rooms, even if the temperature exceeds a comfortable him 23 degrees, when the heating system. In summer regular spraying will enhance the beauty of the leaves, especially when kept in good light, but it is quite possible to do without these simple procedures.

The foliage of curculigo should be regularly cleaned of dust by wiping or washing with warm water and a soft sponge. You must proceed with extreme caution, as any damage will result in an irreparable loss of the leaf. When dusting, move along the folds, along the length of the leaves, avoiding unnecessary repetitive wiping.

Trimming the Curculigo

Injured leaves on the plant do not recover, and old leaves must be cut periodically. The whole leaf together with the cuttings should be cut with sharp, disinfected tools.

Fertilizers and composition of fertilizers

This plant needs fertilizers only during active growth, from March to September. The plant can be given the standard frequency of fertilization - once every 15 days, but with half of the standard dose, or 1 fertilizer per month with the standard portion of the fertilizer. If possible, the plants can be fed with organic preparations, but also full mineral mixtures are quite suitable. Despite the dominance of foliage in the list of decorative characteristics of the plant, fertilizers for ornamental-leaved plants for curculigo are not used.

Transplanting and substrate

Curculigo transplanted once every two years or as the container is filled and all available substrate is developed. Even at a young age it's better to be guided by the rate of growth rather than by a certain schedule.

For curculigo choose special containers, allowing to increase the width, but not too deep, corresponding to the type of rhizome. Wide and shallow planters with good drainage holes are better to choose from natural materials.

For this plant select a quality nutritious earth mixture. A universal substrate for houseplants from any manufacturer will do. Independently prepare a substrate can be based on the turf soil, adding to it humus and leaf soil and sand (ratio 2:1:1:0,5) or on the basis of leafy soil, adding humus, peat and sand (ratio 2:1:1:1).

At the bottom of the containers necessarily lay drainage. Curculigo prefers not a large fraction, but shallow, but good drainage, such as coarse sand or fine claydite. When transplanting, the plants try to make minimal contact with the roots and maintain the previous level of burial.

Curculigo Molineria - gorgeous leaves with minimal care
Molineria fine-headed, or Curculigo turned away in natural conditions. © iNaturalist

Diseases, pests and problems in cultivation

This is one of the most disease and pest resistant plants. The only insect that likes the hard leaves of the curculigo is the scales. You can get rid of them with a simple mechanical wash. But it is better to combine the removal of insects from the green with the use of insecticides.

Common problems in cultivation:

  • appearance of black spots in excessive moisture;
  • brown spots on the leaves when exposed to direct sun.

Reproduction of curculigo

Curculigo propagate mainly vegetatively. The easiest way to divide large, overgrown bushes is to separate half or a third of the bush into a new container. But the plant can also be propagated by separate offspring. The offspring are separated (cut off) during transplanting and planted in standard curculigo soil mixture.

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