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Cyanotis - A Fluffy Indoor Groundcover

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Flowers are not the most popular and representative category of indoor plants. Forming dense cushions and mats, they offer to introduce ornate, neat and lacy accents into the interior. But cyanotis is an exception to the general rule, the plant is rightly ranked among the exotics. And the matter is not only in its large leaves and brittle shoots. Unusual pubescence, uncontrolled growth of twigs, some sloppiness and peculiar density of leaves make it stand out against any other plant. And the metallic texture and almost furry surface of the flowers make Cyanotis a true original.

Cyanotis - a fluffy indoor groundcover
Cyanotis somaliensis (Cyanotis somaliensis). © Kissy Frott


  • What does the indoor cyanotis groundcover?
  • Views of cyanotis 
  • Conditions for growing room cyanotis
  • Home care of cyanotis
  • Diseases, pests and problems in growing
  • Propagation of cyanotis

What does a room cyanotis groundcover look like?

There are quite a few African exotics among room plants, but it is not easy to find cultures that are not common in South Africa and stand out for their unusual appearance. Cyanotis is one of the exotics that came to us not from the Cape (South Africa) but from Somalia. This plant is often advertised as an exotis with a rather narrow range of distribution, although this is only true of a single species. Cyanotis are common in tropical regions of Africa and found in Asia, being rather inconspicuous groundcover plants.

Cyanotis represent the Commelinaceae family in indoor culture. The plants were named for the shape and characteristics of their flowers (from the Greek "blue" and "ear").

Cyanotis are herbaceous climbing perennials, although short-lived annual species can also be found in nature. They continually spread out, taking over more and more territory in nature and forming a dense and lush cover. Due to the limited volume of soil in containers, room cyanotis are not so aggressive, but they still form dense thickets and take over all available space.

The creeping, creeping shoots of this plant are quite thick, juicy, easily broken, they cannot boast of their stability, partially lifting and adding looseness to bushes. The fleshy, pubescent, linear leaves with a slightly pointed tip sit fairly densely on the shoots, alternately.

The color range of Cyanotis is amazing. Even the basic coloration of this plant is light green. And the pubescence with a grayish tint gives the plant a metallic, more often than not, silvery effect. The pubescence is soft, the fine hairs on the stems lengthen at the edges of the leaves and become more prominent there.

House cyanotis blooms rarely, but such a sight is worth waiting for. Blue or lilac, brightly colored, blooming surrounded by unusual bracts, the flowers are astonishing in their almost furry effect. The flowers bloom in the axils of leaves or at the tips of shoots.

Cyanotis - a fluffy indoor groundcover
Cyanotis flower. © DiegoFotoLDI

Species of Cyanotis

There are only three species of Cyanotis used in room culture. One single plant is popular, but the other two species are found only in selected collections and botanical gardens.

Cyanotis somaliensis (Cyanotis somaliensis) is a true calling card of the genus Cyanotis. A herbaceous perennial with pubescent leaves and shoots that have a glossy surface texture peeking through the pubescence hairs (they are especially spectacular along the edge), creating stunningly beautiful spots and cushions on the soil.

Lancet leaves with their white pubescence contrast with any other indoor plant. The small flowers are bright blue, solitary, and bloom in the axils of the upper leaves, surprising with an almost furry pubescence against which the yellow stamen anthers shine.

Cyanotis beddomei (Cyanotis beddomei, also known as Cyanotis kew, Cyanotis kewensis) is a short and very pretty species that develops in compact but lush mats. It is a herbaceous perennial with climbing-crawling shoots that create a thick and dense turf. The leaves hug the stem and are heart-shaped-lanceolate, up to 4 cm long and up to 2 cm wide. The flowers are located on the tops of the shoots, in peculiar whorls. This Cyanotis differs from the Somali in its reddish, dark pubescent shoots and fleshy leaves with the reverse purple side. The purple flowers are small and somewhat unsightly.

Cyanotis vaga (Cyanotis vaga, formerly known by its synonym Cyanotis nodiflora) is a compact perennial with straight, branched stems, somewhat different in growth form from the two species described above. The pointed, dark green, lanceolate leaves hug the shoots. Flowers in sessile inflorescences bloom only in the axils of the upper leaves, they are lilac-blue, with an unusual fluffy pubescence.

Please also read this. Preparing perennials for winter

Cyanotis - a fluffy indoor groundcover
Cyanotis somaliensis (Cyanotis somaliensis). © Banu
Cyanotis - a fluffy indoor groundcover
Cyanotis beddomei (Cyanotis beddomei). © Eric Barbier
Cyanotis - a fluffy indoor groundcover
Cyanotis vaga (Cyanotis vaga) © Sajan Subedi

Conditions for growing indoor Cyanotis

Cyanotis can be categorized as a typical not too capricious exotic. This African feels better in diffused, soft light, requires a cool overwintering. The latter is the main difficulty in growing cyanotis, because it is not easy to maintain the correct temperatures for them in normal living rooms. Otherwise, cyanotis is not too demanding.

Cyanotis can be grown as an ampel plant, because its creeping shoots gradually become long enough and can beautifully and chaotically droop. But, more often, the plant is used as an ordinary potted plant or in various mixed compositions. Cyanotis is especially good in florariums, terrariums, winter garden compositions with other succulent-type cultures.

Lighting and placement in the interior

Cyanotis is used to rather intense light. This plant does not tolerate strong shade and prefers to grow in diffused light. Cyanotis doesn't tolerate direct sun rays even in winter, but in autumn and winter it can be placed on brighter windows or afterglow compensating insufficient light.

Cyanotis can be placed in the interior not only on window sills, but east or west windows are considered the best place for it. The thing is that cyanotis responds very well to artificial light and can be grown even with artificial extra light. Choosing a place for Cyanotis, focus on places similar in light levels to light window sills.

Temperature regime and ventilation

Cyanotis is a moderately heat-loving plant. If in nature this inhabitant of the tropics tolerates any heat, in the rooms for him it is better to ensure stable air temperatures around +20 ° C. From excessive heat plant "save" by ventilation and reducing the intensity of light. At steadily high room temperatures, cyanotis ages faster and degenerates.

The most difficult thing in growing room cyanotis is a cool overwintering. The plant can also overwinter in normal living rooms, but this way it will lose its decorativeness faster and will need to be rejuvenated more often. The optimum winter temperatures are +14 to +16°C. Cyanotis can't survive temperature falls below +12°С.

Cyanotis - a fluffy indoor groundcover
Fluffy leaves of Cyanotis. © Nessy apprentie en rangement

Cyanotis care at home

The main disadvantage of cyanotis is its tendency to age. Bushes of the plant quickly lose decorativeness, and without rejuvenation every two or three years it will be impossible to admire this tame exotis. In the rest, the care of the plant is quite standard. Cyanotis does not like overwatering, requires systematic, accurate watering and careful fertilizing. But there is no need to take measures to moisten the air.

Pouring and humidity

Qianotis can not be attributed to the moisture-loving room exotics. This plant feels comfortable in light, stably moist soil. Water the plant moderately, even in summer, letting the substrate partially dry out and trying to keep it slightly moist all the time.

Winter watering for Cyanotis is reduced to a minimum, just maintaining the viability of the roots and not letting the plant dry out. The soil should remain almost dry at this time.

Watering for Cyanotis should be done carefully, so that drops of water do not get on the leaves or shoots. Any wetting causes the beginning of rotting.

Cyanotis not only do not need measures to increase humidity, but they are afraid of an environment that is too wet. Spraying is strictly forbidden for this plant, as is placing it near humidifiers. Dust can be cleaned with a brush.

Fertilizers and composition of fertilizers

Cyanotis is afraid of excess nutrients. Fertilizers for it are done with the standard frequency of once every 2 weeks, but only from March until August and at half the recommended doses of fertilizer.

Fertilizers for cyanotis should be chosen for ornamental-leaved plants.

Trimming and shaping cyanotis

Cyanotis can be restrained in growth if desired by partially cutting off the long shoots. But usually pruning results in faster growth and more rapid degeneration.

The plant loses shape over time, the lower parts of the shoots become bare, and dry patches form in the center of the cushions. Cyanotis, which has lost its ornamentality, needs to be rejuvenated. It's enough to divide the plant when replanting or replace the old bush with a new one grown from stem cuttings.

To handle Cyanotis you must be very careful, because the plant is too brittle.

Propagation, choice of container and substrate

This groundcover, despite its perennial status, needs frequent rejuvenation and repotting is usually performed to the plant when it becomes necessary. One repot every 2 years is considered standard.

Only light, breathable, not prone to compaction succulent substrates are suitable for Cyanotis. If the soil mixture is prepared by yourself, it is better to mix in equal parts peat, mulch, leaf soil and sand. For cyanotis, do not use too fertile substrates. Loosening additives in the substrate are welcome. Cyanotis, despite its fear of getting wet, grows well on hydroponics. You can also grow the plant in ionic soil and minimal substrate, and in decorative soils in florariums.

Cyanotis is not afraid of contact with the roots. The plant is planted while maintaining the same level of burial. Handle brittle shoots very carefully. At the bottom of containers, be sure to lay a high, up to 1/3 of the height, layer of drainage.

Diseases, pests and problems in cultivation

Cyanotis often have pests that live in dry air. Spider mites, scales and aphids love the plant's pubescent leaves. Pests can only be controlled by insecticides. Common problems in cultivation:

  • loss of pubescence if the plant receives too much nutrition or too fertile a soil;
  • shallowering of leaves and stretching of shoots in shade;
  • brown spots on leaves in direct sunlight.
    Cyanotis - a fluffy indoor groundcover
    Cyanotis chert. © Juan Ramón Alonso

Propagation of Cyanotis

Despite its status as a valuable and rare species, Cyanotis is very easy to grow yourself. The plant at home, the easiest way to propagate is by cuttings: apical or stem, not long cuttings are very quickly rooted in almost any environment - in water, sand, and substrate under a hood. The cuttings should be kept in the shade and warm.

After rooting, the plants are transplanted into small, wide planters, using the standard substrate for these plants. Cuttings are also the easiest method of rejuvenating Cyanotis. Broken off shoots are often rooted in the same container in which the mother plant grows (e.g. in a gap in the middle of old bushes).

It is also possible to get cyanotis from seeds. They are sown in light soil, under glass or film, and keep the seeds warm, at a temperature above 20 degrees and in complete darkness until germination. The substrate should remain slightly moist. After the emergence of seedlings the containers are transferred to the light, the cover is removed after the seedlings grow up. Young Cyanotis afraid and overwatering, and direct sun.

If you grow Cyanotis in room conditions, share your experiences in the comments to the article. Our readers will be very grateful to you!