The Costus speciosus is a medium-sized rhizomatous shrub, native to southern Asia; it develops erect stems, slightly fleshy, woody at the base, carrying long thick, leathery, oval, sessile, dark green, glossy leaves, spirally arranged along the stem; each single rhizome can produce 4-5 stems.
In late summer, at the apex of the stems, a squat panicle is produced, formed by semi-woody bracts, of dark red colour, between the bracts, bloom flowers of cream white colour, with a wrinkled appearance, in the shape of a funnel. The flowers are followed by small pink berries, which contain a single dark seed. Usually, the panicle of bracts remains on the plant for a long time, even after the flowering.
The typical species can reach conspicuous dimensions, up to 100-150 m of height, widening as well; there are several cultivars, less resistant to the cold and of more contained measures, which do not exceed the 40-50 cm of height. The costus can be utilized as garden plants, but more commonly in Italy they are sold as apartment plants.
In order to grow our plants in the best possible way, it is advisable to know what the specific cultivation needs of each one are. An inappropriate position for our plant could in fact cause difficulties in growth, dryness of the leaves or yellowing and much more. Let’s see together what is the ideal exposure for our costus. The plants of Costus speciosus prefer shady or semi-shaded positions, even if they can receive a few hours a day in direct sunshine without damage.
The costus speciosus don’t fear the cold, and can be cultivated in the garden, as they can bear very intense frosts; in fact, the low temperatures cause the plant to dry up, which will flourish the following spring; as indoor plants, on the contrary, they behave like evergreens; some cultivars fear the cold, and are therefore cultivated only in containers.
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- They decorate terraces, balconies and garden corners.
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Plants grown in apartments need regular and abundant watering. It is important to always avoid leaving stagnant water in the saucer; plants grown in the garden water from March to October, keeping the soil slightly moist, the more they are in a sunny position, the greater the frequency of watering. During the winter months it is not necessary to water the plants, as if left outdoors they tend to lose the aerial part.
The Costus speciosus are cultivated in soft and deep soil, rich in organic matter; it is very important that the soil can slightly maintain the humidity but at the same time can let the water flow freely. Usually a good universal soil is used, mixed with leaf soil and a good quantity of sand.
The reproduction of the plant may take place by seed, in spring; it is better to practise, after the flowering, the division of the rhizomes, trying to keep some well developed roots for each portion practised.
Costus speciosus: Pests and diseases
These plants tend not to be attacked by pests or diseases; excessive watering can cause the development of radical rottenness.