Akokantera - decorative and fragrant indoor tree
Large indoor plants are especially popular today. One beautiful shrub is able to replace dozens of grassy stars, and the influence of the expressive silhouette on the interior of the room can not be overestimated. Preserving their decorativeness throughout the year, indoor trees and shrubs are appreciated for their versatility. One of the plants that have any trait that is good - from foliage to bark, flowering and fruiting - is an amazingly hardy acocanter. Undemanding and modest in nature, but not in appearance, it deserves much more attention.
- Akokanter - perfection in every detail
- Conditions for growing indoor acocanter
- Home care for acocanter
- Diseases, pests and growing problems
- Breeding acocanteri
Akokanter - perfection in every detail
Acocanters are representatives of the Kutrov family (Apocynaceae), although it is difficult to guess the relationship with the periwinkles in terms of the plant's appearance and the form of growth. After all, acocanters are evergreen shrubs of a rather large size, which not only show off with luxurious foliage, but also inimitably blossom and bear fruit.
In nature, acocanters are rarely found mainly in Africa, being one of the most beautiful species of local flora.
Own name acocanters (Acokanthera) received from the Greek "pointed anther". Throughout the world, this poisonous plant is known as Bushman's poison or poisonous bush, although winter fruiting in English-speaking countries led to the emergence of another name - winter sweetness.
Akokanter is delightful, or Longleaf (Acokanthera oblongifolia, synonym - Acokanthera spectabilis) Is the only type of acocanter that is used in indoor floriculture. And in the garden culture in countries with a warm climate, it is difficult to name the representative genus of these shrubs, because all five species of acocanter are plants that are quite rare.
Today in catalogs you can sometimes find not a long-leafed, but another acocanter - poisonous (Acokanthera oppositifolia), which is very difficult to distinguish from others (only by the more rounded shape of the leaves).
What does an acocenter look like?
Acocanters are luxurious evergreen shrubs in which absolutely any trait from foliage to fruits can cause admiration. These are compact, elegant plants with a graceful silhouette of branches that look like small living sculptures and are well formed.
The height of indoor acocanter directly depends on how the plant is trimmed and whether it inhibits its growth. In the absence of pruning, the acocanter will easily exceed 1 m, but during formation it can be much more compact. Acocanters are growing fast enough, but the pace of their development can be controlled. Shoots are very thin, green, even at a considerable age, they seem amazingly fragile.
The leaves of acocanterae are simple, opposite, short-leaved, large, ovate-oval with a pointed tip. Reaching a length of 12 cm, they surprise with an ideal leathery surface with a bright glossy sheen and cirrus, symmetrically strict venation. The leaves are arranged on the shoots in a strict order, creating an almost perfect ornament and rows. Against the background of flawless foliage with a bright, medium green color, flowering seems even more spectacular.
Large axillary tassels of inflorescences, which seem to lie on pillows of strict leaves, seem like a living work of art. Despite the massiveness of the inflorescences, each flower is visible in them - small, but very elegant, with perfectly pointed petals, snow-white, with a short reddish tube. Delicate and unobtrusive aroma as if enhances the beauty of flowers.
The flowering season of acocanters usually starts in mid-winter and lasts at least 3 weeks, but usually indoor acocanters bloom for several months and delight the second wave after a short break. In regions with severe winters, they often bloom in anticipation of winter, enjoyable by their two long two-three-month blossoms with a break of several weeks.
Like many African shrubs, acocanter is able to please just in time for the winter holidays. From November to the end of March, the lace of her inflorescences recalls little winter miracles.
After flowering, the plant not only does not lose its decorative effect, but also surprises with the beauty of the fruit. Among acocanter there are both varieties requiring cross-pollination, as well as self-pollinating varieties, but in our catalogs they are considered a rarity.
To achieve fruiting room acocanteri, you will have to take care of pollination yourself. Large, inky, with a beautiful reflection, the fruits adorn the branches in clusters and look like a real necklace.
Externally, the fruits of acocanters are very similar to olives. The toxicity of the whole plant is not characteristic of the fruit, although it is better not to eat them because of the strong cardiotonic properties.
Conditions for growing indoor acocanter
The reputation of the Akokanter does not match her character. From flowering crops native to Africa, this one is the least demanding for maintenance. The thermophilic acocanter “depends” only on the light intensity and is able to bloom even without a cold winter. It feels good on the windowsills, but the backlight allows you to use other accommodation options.
When growing acocanters, it is worth considering its toxicity. The plant is not suitable for everyone, because the danger of contact with the juice secreted by the roots, shoots and leaves requires caution to those who have pets and small children.
Lighting and placement
Acocanters, like most South African women growing in interiors, are demanding on light intensity. This plant loves diffused, bright light, in ordinary, rather than panoramic windows, it needs several hours of sunshine a day.
Artificial illumination is not only acceptable, but also allows you to grow a plant away from the window, it is extremely desirable in the winter. True, you can do without it, limiting yourself to rearranging the plant in brighter places. Even in partial shade, acocanters lose their ability to bloom, but foliage retains decorativeness in strong shading, so sometimes acocanters are grown to decorate the depth of interiors with large-leaf accents.
When placing acocanters, it is worth choosing eastern or western window sills. At southern windows, the plant can be shifted into the interior, focusing on its signals about whether lighting is comfortable for normal growth and development.
Temperature and ventilation
Akokanthera loves a stable warm environment. The plant reacts poorly to both low temperatures and heat. The greatest decorativeness from acocanters can be achieved if the plant is all year in a room with a temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius - from a minimum of 18 to a maximum of 25 degrees.
The plant likes to hibernate and bloom in slightly lower temperatures, but it is not allowed to fall below 15 degrees. If there is no possibility to lower the temperature to 15-18 degrees, the acocanter can endure a warm winter (such a maintenance regimen will not affect flowering, provided that the light intensity and high humidity are preserved).
During the summer, acocanterus can be used as a decoration for a garden or a balcony. The plant feels good in the fresh air and needs frequent ventilation. Akokanteru is protected from active drafts and temperature changes in both rooms and in the garden.
Home care for acocanter
The only difficult moment in the care of the acocanter is the need to prevent the complete drying of the substrate. The endurance of the plant allows mistakes to be made in watering, but the lack of acocanter will not forgive them. And dry air is not the best option for her. For the rest, this is a surprisingly plastic plant suitable for even inexperienced gardeners, which will please flowering with regular regular care.
Watering and humidity
Stable moisture indicators of the substrate, without any extremes, regular, the same watering in the summer and a little rarer in the winter - this is the best strategy for selecting an irrigation program for acocanter. The plant can be grown hydroponically or in containers with automatic irrigation. The frequency of the procedures is set, allowing the top layer of the substrate to dry. Complete drying of the soil for this crop is unacceptable, but overmoistening, if we are not talking about constant waterlogging, the acocanter will not hurt.
This plant is watered only with soft water. When spraying and watering, it is worthwhile to ensure that the water temperature is several degrees higher than the air temperature in the room.
Akokanteru reckoned to be difficult to grow plants primarily because of its moisture lovingness, but it is relative. This plant will retain its decorative effect for many years in dry air, if you do not allow misses with watering. Of course, ideal conditions can only be created if the air humidity does not fall below 70%. Dry air, especially in case of violation of the recommended temperature regime, is not fatal for acocanters, but if possible, it is better to create a stably humid environment.
For this shrub, it is advisable to install an industrial or artisanal humidifier, but thanks to large leaves the plant can be content with simple spraying. Acocanters regularly remove dust from leaves with a damp sponge.
Fertilizing and fertilizer composition
For this culture, standard dressing is suitable. If you apply fertilizers from spring to autumn with a frequency of once every 2 weeks, the plant will not lack nutrients, but it is better to fertilize all year round, halving the frequency or concentration of fertilizers in winter. During the period of active growth and flowering, the dosage recommended by the manufacturer in the instructions must be observed exactly, without reducing or increasing.
Universal fertilizers are perfect for acocanters. If it is possible to choose special fertilizers for fruitful houseplants, then they can replace standard top dressing.
Cropping and shaping
Indoor acocanters may not be the fastest growing plants, but they stretch up all the time and lose their compactness with age. Pruning is carried out, leaving at least two buds on the shoots. For strong pruning, it is better to prefer a shortening of the tops of the shoots and regular spring rejuvenation with the removal of the oldest and thickening shoots. It is enough to cut plants once a year. You can carry out the formation on the desired path.
Transplant and substrate
For acocanters, it is better to provide for an annual transplant or capacity change once every 2 years for adult plants (with an annual replacement of the topsoil). The root system of the plant develops rapidly, it is quite powerful, so changing the substrate and capacity after flowering allows you to create more stable conditions for the shrub. A transplant is always transplanted in the spring.
For this culture, you can use a universal loose and nutrient substrate. Special substrates for shrubs and woody indoor formats are great for acocanters, but you can use a simpler soil mix. If you are preparing the soil yourself, then it is better to compose it on the basis of turf soil with additives of sand and sheet soil in a ratio of 3: 1: 1.
For acocanteri, transplantation with minimal contact with the roots is preferred. The plant is reloaded into new containers, removing only loose, crumbling or contaminated soil. At the bottom of the tanks for acocanters, a high layer of drainage is necessarily laid. For acocanters, you can use decorative mulching of the upper layer of the substrate.
Diseases, pests and growing problems
Acocanter is rarely affected by pests. The danger for large leaves of the plant is represented only by spider mites and scale insects, which often infect the plant in its proximity to unhealthy neighbors. Usually, in order to cope with this problem, it is enough to wash the leaves with soap and water and increase air humidity.
Common problems in growing acocanters:
- stunting for up to 2 weeks at any change in growing conditions within the framework of a normal adaptive reaction;
- dropping leaves or partial drying of leaves in dry air;
- oppressed growth or prolonged stunting with constant dampness of the soil;
- lack of flowering in shading;
- no signs of growth after pruning in low light.
Indoor acocanters are best propagated vegetatively. Plant seeds can also be used, but this option requires many years of growing until the first flowering, and sowing seeds must be carried out immediately after their collection.
Semi-lignified cuttings can be rooted in acocanters to obtain new plants. The tops of the shoots are cut, choosing strong, strong shoots with 2–3 nodes. For rooting, it is enough to have cuttings 6-10 cm long. Cuttings are usually not treated with a growth stimulator, since these procedures do not increase the rooting percentage (it is equal to 50% at best), but they must be put into water for several hours.
Cuttings are planted in a universal substrate, deepened at an angle of 1-2 cm. Rooting is carried out in bright light and under a hood with regular ventilation, preventing the air temperature from dropping below 25 degrees Celsius.
Acocanter seeds are sown after harvest (as fast as possible). Sowing is carried out in low, wide cups filled with a moistened substrate, the seeds are laid out at a distance of 2-3 cm from each other, and then cover them with a 5 mm layer of substrate on top and repeat gentle hydration. Under glass or film, with a stable soil moisture and at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, the plant shows a fairly high germination rate. Plants dive after the release of the third leaf.