Ixora Is A Fiery Exotic With Flawless Leaves

The inimitable Ixora despite its status as one of the most spectacular plants with a fiery palette of flowers remains a culture not too common. It's all about the controversial reputation of this beauty, which many people consider so capricious that even moving from the store to the house can lead to almost complete dumping of buds and flowers. But in fact, Ixora is not so untouchable and, despite its dislike of changing locations, is capable of becoming the real star of a room collection. The impeccable greenery of this beauty is as if created to serve as a background for massive inflorescences, the beauty of which fully pays off both its considerable price and the need for a careful selection of growing conditions. The more so because the Ixora, in spite of its abundance of flowers, needs only a relatively cool overwintering. © Farzana Rahman

Acrylic umbrellas of inflorescences plus nearly perfect Ixora leaves

The great relative of coffee trees, Ixora is often called the "flame flower", "flame in the forest" or "fire of the jungle." And all these nicknames are quite justified by the dazzlingly bright, acrylic colors of the inflorescences. But the plant was not named for its fiery palette, but after a Hindu deity. Ixora is traditionally included in the list of the most spectacular flowering plants of the exot class. Its status as "culture not for everyone" determines its rather low distribution in flower stores, connected, first of all, with difficulties of transportation.

The leaves and shoots of the plant are very similar to citrus trees (so, unblooming Ixora can easily be confused with lemons or mandarins), though the color of their greenery is somewhat lighter and richer. But Ixora belongs not to their family at all, but to the Marene family and is a relative of another beauty with leathery glossy leaves - gardenia. "Forest fire" came to our interiors from the tropical forests of Asia.

Ixora (Ixora) - evergreen shrubs, whose height even in nature is limited to 1.5-2 m, in indoor culture, it varies from 30 cm to 1 m, depending on the frequency of pruning. Brown, rather light shoots are practically invisible under the mass of glossy leaves. Oval with pointed ends, dense and leathery, Ixora leaves have a glossy surface and a prominent central vein. They can be up to 12 cm long. The color of greenery in Ixora is dazzlingly saturated, bright green. Inflorescences are apical, blooming at the ends of branches. Dense, cap-shaped umbels of inflorescences of large size, consisting of dense simple flowers with four tepals, are typical for all Ixora flowers.

The main feature of Ixora flowers is not only perfectly symmetrical arrangement of even number of petals, but also extremely bright, acrylic, pure tones of colors, evenly distributed on the whole surface of the flower. Red, orange, pink, yellow or white cap inflorescences with matte coloration stand out spectacularly against the background of green leaves, contrasting with their glossiness and offering an admiration of saturated colors. The period of flowering of Ixora in room conditions with good care and average air humidity can stretch from spring literally to autumn.

Ixora species

The genus Ixora includes about 500 plant species. In indoor culture, mainly hybrid varieties and varieties specially bred for potted cultivation are used, which, unlike the species plants, can put up with the conditions in enclosed spaces and are distinguished by greater compactness and abundance of flowers. There are only 2 of the species:

  1. Ixora javanica;
  2. Ixora bright red (Ixora coccinea).

They are practically identical by all their characteristics and differ only in the color of the inflorescences and the shape of the sepals. Ixora bright red is, in spite of its name, light pink or orange-red in color, with flower petals with a rounded tip. Ixora javanica, on the other hand, is a bright red flowering plant with pointed petal tips.

Ixora is a fiery exotic with flawless leaves
Ixora javanica. © Rohini Lakshane

Home care for Ixora

The status of a capricious crop may not be given to the Ixora by accident, but it is not too demanding. Ixora does grow well in flower showcases and winter gardens. But the requirements for air humidity of 60% and only a slight lowering of temperatures in the winter is quite possible to grow it in the room. Of course, the complex care is more suitable for experienced florists. But the unique and defiantly-modern appearance of this exotic as if created for the decoration of interiors.

Lighting for Ixora

In nature, this plant is accustomed to the most intense, "southern" light as possible. Ixora retains its light-loving nature in a room format as well, but the plant becomes more sensitive to direct sunlight. Ixora should be carefully protected from the influence of the latter, but in the choice of locations you should still adhere to the strategy of finding places with the brightest light. In the penumbra, and even more so in the shade, Ixora cannot grow, and it's not just because you can't make it bloom. Bad light is always a factor of diseases and pests spreading on this plant, leads to loss of leaves (starting from the lower part of shoots).

For keeping usual stable conditions it is necessary to correct light regime in winter. Ixora should preferably be moved to the brightest location in the house. Without light correction, its flowering will be more sparse.

The search for a location for Ixora can stop at both eastern and western and southern windowsills with appropriate installation of scattering screens. This plant likes to grow in a greenhouse with an additional, artificial source of light, it can be partially grown on a supplementary light, but it still blooms better and produces more spectacular leaves when provided with natural bright light.

One of the most difficult points of growing Ixora is connected with the light, or rather with its stability: plants do not like any turning, let alone transferring from place to place and moving to other apartments. This is why many flower centers and companies refuse to grow Ixora: by the time the plant is delivered to the store, it can drop all the buds and flowers. But Ixora will not die and will not lose the ability to bloom in the future, so you should not fear this when buying: the loss of one season will pay off with the beauty of a bright show in the future, and such falling off does not always happen, and experienced flower shops know different tricks that allow Ixora not to notice the move. But the tendency to a bad reaction to a change of environment should be taken into account in the home.

The flower buds of this culture fall off very easily, even if the pot is moved only a few centimeters. Ixora retains such light sensitivity only from the beginning of bud blossoming to the end of flowering. Therefore, during the whole active season it is better to leave it alone, not to move and not to turn it.

Comfortable temperature regime

The status of a beautiful flowering culture by no means prevents the Ixora to remain a plant, relatively unpretentious to temperatures. It is a thermophilic culture, which, unlike many other tropical plants, is able to bloom during several months without needing cool, let alone cold wintertime. The standard winter living room temperatures within the restrained range are quite suitable for Ixora (in winter it is better to keep the plant in the temperature range of 16-18 degrees, not below 14 degrees below).

As for keeping during the warm period, the permissible temperature for Ixora is 18 degrees. The plants develop best in the temperature range from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, and the more stable the temperature, the more abundant the Ixora blooms.

It would be a big mistake to consider the Ixora a softy. It does not like cold and cold draughts (plants must be protected from them in winter in every possible way), but it is not afraid of warm air currents, likes airing and even needs constant access to fresh air. In summer it can be placed in constantly ventilated rooms with open windows or taken out onto balconies and terraces, placed in sheltered places with diffused light or in the penumbra, but only under the condition that the plant has no buds yet (you can take it back only after flowering).

Ixora is a fiery exotic with flawless leaves
Ixora yellow. © chhajedgarden

Watering and air humidity

Like most purely tropical plants, the Ixora is a water-loving crop and requires abundant watering. However, it needs plenty of water only during the period of active growth. The next watering is definitely done after the uppermost layer of soil in the pots has dried up, without letting it dry out at least partially in the middle layer. For Ixora it is important to maintain a stable average moisture content of the soil.

In winter the plant goes through a resting stage, preparing for flowering, and abundant watering can disrupt not only the process of laying the flower buds, but also lead to problems with root rotting. Over the winter, Ixora is transferred to moderate watering, let the soil in the pots dry out not only on top, but also in the middle layer, maintaining only light moisture by rare and restrained procedures. The traditional frequency of watering for Ixora: tentatively 3 times a week in summer and once every 6-8 days in winter.

It is very important to use quality water for watering, defending it for at least 3 days. It is best to choose water with initially mild characteristics for Ixora. Particular attention should be paid to water temperature, which should not differ from the air temperature in the room.

Requirements for medium-high humidity is one of the reasons why this plant is ranked as capricious. And this is the reason why Ixora is most often recommended to grow in winter gardens. But to meet all the needs of the plant can also be in room conditions, because this culture is satisfied with the humidity figures of 60-65%. To do this, it is enough to provide as frequent spraying as possible to increase air humidity. During the active period of development, Ixora can be sprayed daily. But in winter, spraying is only done to compensate for the heating system, lowering the average air humidity compared to the summer humidity. Ixora does not tolerate the accumulation of large drops of water on the leaves and inflorescences. A fine sprayer is used for the plants. You can increase the humidity and other ways:

  • install a device-moisturizer;
  • Put the plants on a tray with water or moist moss, expanded clay, pebbles, decorative soil (so that the bottom of the container did not touch water).

Feeding for Ixora

Fertilizer for Ixora apply only during its active development. Fertilizing begins in March and is cut off in August. At this time, Ixora needs to be fertilized quite often, with a frequency of once a week or once every 10 days. Special fertilizer mixtures for flowering house plants are better suited for this plant. During the winter period fertilizer for Ixora is forbidden To stop feeding, even if the plants continue to bloom in the fall, not making fertilizer since September in any case.

Ixora is a fiery exotic with flawless leaves
Ixora orange. © flowerceo

Ixora pruning

Timely pruning is an important condition for Ixora ornamentality and for maintaining the ability to bloom abundantly, the compact size and beauty of the crown. But unlike many other flowering crops, it is not the pruning that stimulates flowering that is needed for Ixora, but the pruning that forms it. This crop is trimmed as needed. If the Ixora remains compact and attractive, pruning can be skipped. But usually this shrub develops actively and without control, not just the compactness of the crown is lost: the bush turns into a large giant, losing its usual appearance and unpleasantly surprising with the bare bottom of the branches. Therefore, after the end of flowering, Ixora should be inspected and be sure to shorten all the long shoots. On Ixora, pruning is carried out to half of their length. For this plant, it is very important to choose the right timing of pruning. It has to be done after flowering and not traditionally in spring, before transplanting, otherwise your Ixora may not bloom at all or only bloom on branches that have not been cut.

The important thing about growing Ixora is to keep the branches from lengthening and to encourage active thickening, which will ensure an increase in inflorescences through a very simple measure - pinching the tops of the shoots. Usually thickening is only good for the shrub.

Potting and substrate

As with most indoor plants, Ixora need a considered approach to repotting. Young, actively developing specimens can be transplanted every year, but adults need to be transplanted every 2-3 years. These plants can only be transplanted in early spring, when new leaves and shoots are beginning to grow. Before transplanting, Ixora is usually watered abundantly.

The substrate for Ixora should be selected from among loose and very nutritious earth mixture. A universal substrate, special substrates for gardenias or a self-made mixture (mix in equal parts leaf, mulch, sod, peat soil with sand) will do for this plant. Some flower growers recommend a simplified soil of peat, sand and leaf soil in equal parts. A particularly important parameter for Ixora seems to be the nature of the reaction of the soil. This amazing tropic prefers acidic soil, does not feel well even in neutral soil, not to mention alkaline soil. Optimal pH values are from 4.5 to 3.5. To prevent chlorosis, if you use standing, but initially hard water, it is additionally recommended to mulch the top of the substrate with pure peat.

The transplanting procedure is classic. The only difficulty is to lay a very high layer of drainage, the minimum height of which should be 6-7 cm. When transplanting around the rhizome of Ixora it is desirable to keep the soil clod, removing only the free soil and the top, contaminated layer of substrate. Immediately after transplanting it is necessary to provide the plant with abundant watering, and within 2 weeks - active air humidification.

For this flowering culture it is necessary to choose suitable containers. Despite the powerful shoots and impressive foliage, ichoras have a very compact root system, and in large pots they feel uncomfortable. For this culture choose small containers, only a few centimeters larger than the previous ones, and grow in conditions of a lack of free soil rather than an excess of it. When reaching a diameter of 40 - 45 cm Ixora is not transplanted, but the top layer of soil is replaced annually (until the plant retains its vitality).

Ixora is a fiery exotic with flawless leaves
Ixora (Ixora)

Diseases and pests Ixora

Lack of resistance to diseases and pests is one of the negative features of Ixora. This plant is simply adored by scabs, spider mites and aphids, which need only a small lapse in care to occupy the whole bush. Among Ixora diseases the most frequent are chlorosis, which is connected with iron deficiency and watering with too hard or cold water.

Common problems in cultivation:

  • Leaf curling in direct sunlight;
  • Leaf curling or loss of turgor with insufficient soil moisture;
  • pale coloration with watering too cold;
  • lack of flowering or stunted growth with insufficient fertilization;
  • appearance of yellow streaks on the leaves in case of insufficient soil acidity;
  • drying, falling leaves in case of drought;
  • dropping buds when moving the pot or with low air humidity;
  • loss of lower leaves in winter as a result of natural processes.

Propagation of Ixora

High prices for Ixora in particular are also due to the fact that the plant is quite difficult to propagate. It is not always possible to get your own specimens, and rooted plants are often lost, and the reproduction process itself requires specific conditions and patience.

The only acceptable method for home conditions is considered cuttings. Cut apical and stem cuttings about 10 cm long, making sure that the cut is clean and made at an angle of 45 degrees. Cut cuttings can only be made during the spring from young strong shoots, always before the buds begin to appear. An equal amount of sand is added to the soil suitable for Ixora. To root the cuttings, they should be treated with a growth stimulant and placed in a warm nutritious substrate, burying them 1.5-2 cm strictly vertically. Cuttings should be immediately placed under the film and maintained for them high humidity and a stable temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Under ideal conditions, with ventilation, humidity from 85%, the cuttings are rooted within a month.

Ixora is a fiery exotic with flawless leaves
Ixora pink. © Rootbridges

You can try to grow Ixora from seeds, but it is quite difficult to get them. The seeds are sown in a light sand-substrate mixture, only sprinkling lightly with sifted soil on top. Moisten the seeds only after spreading them on the ground by spraying. Contain the containers under the film in a warm place with the temperature from 25 degrees. Seeds will germinate within 3 weeks if sufficient germination and good maturation is maintained.

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