Unzinia Is A Copper Container Cereal

With ornamental grasses you can find both popular fashionistas and rare beauties that claim the title of pride of the garden. To the latter, of course, belongs and uncinia - a low-winter-resistant species of ornamental grasses, which is mainly grown as a container plant. But the unique gold and copper palette evident in the turf and the striking texture of this cereal are still worth the small complications of carrying it to overwintering. Uncinia is one of the most moving red grasses imaginable.

Unzinia is a copper container cereal
Uncinia red 'Everflame' (Uncinia rubra 'Everflame'). © Blå dis

Uccinia - Compact Red Queen of Cereals Not for Everyone

The name uncinia is so consonant with the now fashionable ursinia cunea, that to the ear this rare cereal seems almost a relative of them. But unciniums are full-fledged representatives of great ornamental grasses. Although they cannot boast of being winter-hardy either, they have nothing in common with summer grasses.

Uncinia is a sufficiently large genus of decorative perennial grasses, including about fifty species of cereals. But Uncinia are practically unknown here, and the area not only of their growth in nature, but also distribution in landscape design is practically limited to the southern hemisphere. North of the equator the beauty of uncinia is only beginning to be discovered, and in the southern regions and countries with mild climates it is already put on a par with the fashionable Hakonehloa and sedges.

Untsinia - mainly Australian and New Zealand grasses, only some species grow in Southeast Asia, South and Central America. In their homeland, these plants are known as hookwort and bastard grass.

Ucciniums are grasses that can form stunningly beautiful thickets in the wild and are most commonly found in wet areas. Raw forests, marshy meadows are their natural habitat.

Ucciniae are dense turfy, perennial grasses that produce a very dense cluster of root leaves. A unique evergreen herb, all colors of which are preserved even under the snow, it does not reveal all its beauty at once. The height of the Unzinium is limited to 10-70 cm, most often it is a compact plant of 35-50 cm in height, with the same diameter of the turf. Its long, linear leaves have a play of texture that rivals that of fescue, but they are not twisted and narrow, flat, 4 to 7 mm wide.

The color of the leaves of Unzinia is golden brown, with various light or dark variations of orange-red tints, the young leaves are less expressive than the old ones. The leaves of this cereal seem to be covered with a dusting of metals, which only emphasizes their roughness; they glisten in a special way in the sun and their textures are truly associated with precious metals. For the beauty of their colors, unciniae have earned the title of copper or bronze grasses.

This herb blooms in May or June. The inflorescences of the uncinia are airy and elegant. The apex spikelets bear both male and female flowers. They have an unusual spikelet axis bent at the top like a hook (in fact it is a wrapped covering scale with a very rigid structure, in the axil of which an underdeveloped bud is hidden).

Untsinia spreads effectively in the nature by easily catching on wool and feathers thanks to its "claw". At the top of the inflorescence sit the male flowers. At the bottom, on the other hand, there are sacs that hide the female flowers. The fruits are also hidden in the sacs, triangular, small.

Unzinia is a copper container cereal
Uncinia red 'Everflame' (Uncinia rubra 'Everflame')

Uncinia species

For all species of uncinia, only two species are mainly used as ornamental plants:

  1. Uncinia hooked (Uncinia uncinata). It is an evergreen species about half a meter tall with slightly smaller diameter, stiff straight flower stalks that are almost invisible against the background of the rough, brown, flat leaves. The flowers in narrowed spikelets stand out with a very dark brownish-copper coloration. The inflorescences grow up to 60 cm long.
  2. The most beloved plant is the Uncinia red, which is sometimes listed in catalogs as the Uncinia hookworm 'Red' variety, although by all botanical classifications it is a separate species, Uncinia rubra. It is a magnificent plant, made special by its bronze-red, shiny, luxuriantly metallic foliage. It is considered the only completely red cereal. Individual cultivars, such as the luxurious 'Everflame' and 'Firedans' -grades with dazzling red glossy leaves and a claimed 5th zone of hardiness, which can theoretically be grown in the open air (plant height - only 35-40 cm) are available for sale.

Much less popular, though very beautiful, are the other Unzinia species:

  • Uncinia relative (Uncinia affinis) is a yellowish-golden, densely woody perennial 10 to 80 cm tall with narrow greenish leaves and denser spikelets of inflorescences;
  • Uncinia egmontiana is a compact, 25-30 - centimeter species that develops as a tussock turf, with very stiff, bronze-purple curved leaves and unusual bronze spikelets, in which black seeds are then set.

Ucciniae are used in garden decoration:

  • as a large container accent to decorate terraces, recreation areas, at the entrance, wickets, on paths, along buildings;
  • as a buried container to quickly mask voids in decorative compositions;
  • for large assembled compositions in containers and balcony boxes;
  • for potted fall garden compositions;
  • in portable "mobile" flower beds;
  • in conventional borders and borders of arranged in a row of identical containers;
  • for decoration of stone flower beds, vases on plinths and "legs";
  • as a camouflage of voids and gaps;
  • for small bright, textural accents and copper spots in flower beds and mixborders;
  • for playing with metallic textures in modern gardens and landscape plantings;
  • for planting in the foreground as a framing crop, etc.
Unzinia is a copper container cereal
Uncinia egmontiana (Uncinia egmontiana). © P.B. Pelser

Cultivation of Uncinia

Cultivation strategies for Uncinia in the middle belt:

  • as a fully containerized plant;
  • containerized cereal with digging into soil;
  • planting in open soil with digging and carrying into containers for winter.

Conditions for Uncinia

It is one of the most sun-loving grains. Whether growing uncinia in soil or in a container, it should only be put out in sunny spots so that the plant enjoys full sun every lazy day. Unzinia will not refuse even hot southern locations.

The soil for this plant is selected from among light, loose, crumbly, but moist. Uncinia develops well and achieves bright coloration only in a nutritious soil. When planted in open soil, it can be placed near water bodies. When planting in containers, a universal substrate for caddy and pot plants can be used. Whatever form the plant is grown in, it is very important for the uncinia to put a high layer of drainage in the bottom of the container or planting pits. Unzinia do not tolerate acidic soils, stagnant water, compacted soil. Loosening additives in the soil (vermiculite, sand. perlite, keramsite) are only welcome.

Unzinia is a copper container cereal
Uncinia red (Uncinia rubra). © Loree Bohl

Care for Uncinia

Regular watering is the main and only measure of care for this cereal. When growing in pots for ozcinia, maintain a slight stable soil moisture, avoiding overwatering, letting the substrate dry out in the top and middle layer between treatments. The cereal is not afraid of drought. But in combination with hot temperatures they can lead to partial drying out of leaves and essential paling of color.

When growing in the open soil it is desirable also to hold watering during the long periods of drought, because the plant is rather hygrophilic. Light stable moisture allows the grain to reveal its beauty. But in the absence of watering uncinia will be modest in size, lushness and palette.

Fertilizer for the plant only when growing in containers, using any universal liquid fertilizers and applying them with a frequency of once every 2-3 weeks. When planting uncinia in open soil, it is enough to make sure that the soil is fertile, improve it at planting by adding mineral and organic fertilizers.

Trimming and other care measures for uncinia are not necessary, but if it winters in warm living rooms, then in spring after winter the turf of old leaves is cut, stimulating renewal and compensating the lack of a dormant phase. The plant in containers and container compositions can be periodically "brushed", removing dry or damaged leaves to maintain the beauty of the turf.

The plant is resistant to pests and diseases.

Uncinia rejuvenation

This grass itself signals the need for separation of the clumps, the need for rejuvenation. As soon as the uncinia loses its characteristic reddish coloration and the leaf turf becomes dull and pale, division should be scheduled for the following spring. Curtain plants are divided into 2-3 large divisions, removing the dead parts, and each planted as an independent plant. When replanting unciniae it is important to keep the turf at the same depth, not to raise it above the soil level, but also not to cover the bases of the leaves with earth.

Unzinia is a copper container cereal
Uncinia hooked (Uncinia uncinata). © Genevieve

Hibernating Uncinia

When buying uncinia, the possibility of growing in open soil and the need for shelter should be specified. Individual varieties adapted from local garden centers may exhibit greater hardiness than the base plant. It is possible that they will winter well even in the middle belt when sheltered. But since the vast majority of unziniums on the market are Dutch seedlings, it is worth considering them as standard winter hardy.

The maximum hardiness that is characteristic of known unzinium varieties is zone 7a, equal to the ability to survive 15-18 degrees of frost. Most plants have a much lower declared winter hardiness, ranging from zone 8 and up to zone 12. The low hardiness leaves few opportunities to grow this interesting cereal in the middle belt. The most reliable way - container culture.

If you want to experiment, you can try to keep uncinia in borders or ornamental plantings with full cover for the winter - high dip with dry leaves, wrapping with non-woven materials and lapels. But it is much easier to dig up the unciniums and move them to pots before winter.

Classic wintering strategy for uncinia:

  • Bottles with the plant after the first frosts are further insulated with non-woven materials, placed on a stand or in a box, basket, tub, filling the partitions with dry leaves or sawdust (uncinia is not afraid of any cold weather, with insulated containers can remain in the garden as a decoration until the night -10);
  • With the arrival of the first stable night frosts the plant is placed in a buffer zone for complete drying of turf and adaptation to new conditions;
  • after 3-7 days the containers are transferred to light rooms.

For uncinia lighting is very important, but what will the temperature regime - cold (from 3 to 5 degrees, like most caddisflies), cool room (12-15 degrees), equal to the conditions of a standard greenhouse, loggia, winter garden and semi-heated greenhouse - is not so important. In winter, uncinia can also decorate the interior of living rooms. In the latter variant for the uncinia will have to actively care for, water the plant more often, but there is nothing particularly complicated in this case.

In southern regions uncinia can be used as a culture of the open ground, in preparation for the winter if the winter is mild she does not need. It is not necessary to cut the turf for the winter: red uncinia is inimitably good in the winter garden and enlivens any dull landscape, preserving all its beauty and under the snow.

Unzinia is a copper container cereal
Uncinia hooked 'Rubra' (Uncinia uncinata 'Rubra')

Methods for propagating uncinia

  1. Division of bushes in spring (as in rejuvenation).
  2. Seeds. Planted by standard technology of cultivation of annuals through sprouts, sowing in early spring in flat containers, slightly covering with a substrate and germinating under a film and in warmth. Sprouting - after the appearance of the third true leaf. Young sprouts develop quickly. In the first year it is better to grow as a container crop even in the south.

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