Nicandra in spite of its continuing until frost flowering is undeservedly neglected by florists. This summer plant with unique talents is often called a background, too modest, and sometimes just plain boring. But it is worth taking a closer look at the lush bushes and delicate blue flowers - and the plant will reveal its elusive charm to you in full. Amazingly easy to grow, the plant amazes by its germinating ability, ease of sowing and unpretentiousness. © bezogrodek
Only one of two natural species of nicandra, Nicandra physalodes (Nicandra physalodes, is used in landscape design.) It is a highly ornamental versatile annual that has equally good blooms, fruiting and even leaves. Nicandra is difficult to classify as a lush and fashionable plant, but it is completely inimitable and irreplaceable in its own way.
Most nicandra are large, powerful annuals that form symmetrical, lush umbrella-shaped or hemispherical bushes that can reach a meter in height. But the plant also has compact forms and varieties with a maximum height of only 30 cm. Branched sturdy stems and large leaves with a beautiful serrated edge stand out for their color intensity, creating a very beautiful and lush crown.
Flowers of nikandra do not cover the whole bush with a thick veil, but very beautiful large cup-shaped bells of light lilac-blue color with light yawn sparkle on the background of a thick and bright crown. In addition, nikandra blooms tirelessly until the first autumn frosts arrive, starting its parade in mid-summer. Instead of effective flowers globular fruits similar to physalis in bright green-violet lantern wrappers set, hanging beautifully from the shoots and inspiring many people to create original winter bouquets. Despite existence of new interesting forms and varieties with dark leaves or flowers the rules of growing and taking care of plants do not change even for the most outlandish "black" varieties. In regions with harsh winters, the seedling method of cultivation is considered optimal for the plant.
For more information about growing and caring for Nicandra see our article "The humble and undemanding annual
Self-picking and choosing which seeds to plant
Even though the plant flowers right up to frost and has a very long growing season, Despite the long vegetation period the plant produces a lot of good-quality seeds every year. The shape of its fruits allows you not to worry about actively scattering them. To collect its seeds, you just need to let the lanterns mature before removing them from the bush.
The seeds of nikandra are well preserved, they do not lose their germination not just for several years, but for decades. For quality, mature seeds are characterized by very high germination: even after 5-6 years it exceeds 90%.
Nikandra in our country is not as popular as other annuals, but its seeds are sold often. When buying, it is enough to follow the general recommendations for selecting quality seeds - assess the completeness of information about them, choosing proven producers. The low price should not discourage the purchase: nikandra germinates perfectly, gives an abundant "harvest" of seeds and belongs to the category of the most affordable summer plants.
Soil and containers for sowing
Nikandra can be grown in any standard containers for seedlings - pots, plastic containers, cassettes. It is better to choose containers according to your budget. The main thing is that the containers should not be too deep.
Soil for growing sprouts nikandra is suitable and universal, and independently mixed. Special substrates for seedlings have optimal characteristics, but also ordinary soil for summer and houseplants will do.
Sowing nikandra seeds
Nikandra is sown when the length of daylight allows the plants to develop normally from an early age. This plant is easy to grow, so do not rush with the early sowing, which also needs extra light. Optimal dates for nikandra fizalisovidnaya - first and second decade of April.
There is nothing complicated about the process of sowing nikandra in seedlings:
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- Containers fill the soil in half, slightly compact the soil and finish poured the rest of the substrate without compaction.
- Seeds are sown on the surface in rows or randomly, taking care not to sow too densely.
- Seeds are covered with soil, creating a layer above them up to 1 cm high.
- Containers are covered with film or glass.
Conditions for germination of seeds
Nicandra is an unpretentious plant. It germinates beautifully in normal room conditions, but not in cool conditions. Bright lighting and air temperatures from 20 degrees guarantee friendly sprouts.
Seeds of this summerberry sprout amazingly quickly, pleasing the first sprouts in about a week after sowing, and friendly and strong outcomes - in a week and a half.
After sprouts appear, film or glass is removed from containers with nikandra. The plants continue to be kept in bright light, dispersing direct sunlight if possible, at room temperature. As for any other sprouting, it is worth to maintain a slight stable humidity by spraying, not allowing the soil to dry out or dampness.
Sprouting and care for young nicandra
Nicandra sprouts should be allowed to grow until at least a couple of true leaves appear. Then the plants are carefully unpacked in small personal cups, pots or divided into cells, using a universal substrate for seedlings. The more time the plants spend in the fresh air and get used to the cool temperatures and vagaries of the weather, the better. As soon as the weather permits, take the nikandra out into the fresh air, at least for a few hours in the afternoon on nice days. Time of being outdoors gradually increases, but it is better to protect seedlings from strong cold weather. © Bruce Ackley & Alyssa Lamb
Putting Nykandra in the open ground
The plants can be moved into the garden only when the threat of night frosts has passed. Mycandra is not cold-resistant, so do not hurry with this. In the middle belt of Nicandra planted until late May, but most often - only in June.
For Nicandra in the garden choose only sunny areas with the brightest possible light. The plants are not demanding to soils, but light, quality, fertile and well-drained soils are preferred. Before planting in the garden, it is better to introduce organic matter into the soil, correcting its characteristics, if necessary.
When planting seedlings, it is necessary to take into account that the plant likes free space. To neighboring crops you need to leave a distance of about 0.5 m.
In the first month after planting, it is better to provide the young plants with supporting watering. Then the nikandra can be watered only in a particularly severe drought, trusting its drought tolerance and guided by the weather. If the seedlings were planted in poor, depleted soil, it is better to start immediately fertilizing with mineral or organic fertilizers once a month. In nutritious soil, feeding is not necessary. Pruning or other care nikandra does not need, and from pests or diseases nikandra does not suffer. After the arrival of frosts the plant is simply removed from flower beds and ensembles.
Alternative methods of propagation of nikandra
This summer plant, like many of its "colleagues", gives a very abundant self-sowing, and young plants can be used as seedlings.
Nikandra can be sown directly into the soil. But as it does not flower until July, it starts flowering very late and the bushes will not reach their full size and decorativeness as desired. In the ground you can sow nicandra in May or in April with a cover, a few seeds in wells at a distance of 40 to 50 cm. The seedlings are then thinned, leaving the strongest plant.