The ixora is a small evergreen shrub native to India; in the wild it reaches 120-150 cm in height, but in a pot it can be kept within 50-60 cm in height. It has thin, woody, dark brown stems, with the bark tending to leaf through with time.
The leaves are oval, glossy, leathery, opposite; at the apex of the branches, in summer, it produces big corymbs formed by small flowers with four petals, delicately perfumed, of a usually intense red colour, even if there are varieties with pink, yellow, white and orange flowers. The branches tend to stretch, remaining bare, it is therefore advisable to prune the plant every autumn, in order to obtain a more compact vegetation and to give a defined and clean shape to the plant.
These plants love bright locations, possibly exposed to direct sunlight for at least a few hours a day. They fear the cold, they do not bear the frost, therefore, with the arrival of the autumn cold, they are to be admitted in the house, in a luminous place, far away from sources of heat. In places with particularly mild winters they can also be used as garden plants. It is good to protect our ixora, however, in those places where the wind currents are quite strong and frequent.
The ixora needs regular watering, especially during the warm months, the soil should always be kept slightly moist, even if the plant can bear 1-2 days of drought. In any case, avoid any excessive watering, which could cause water stagnations and root rot. Every 15-20 days provide fertilizer for flowering plants mixed with the water of the watering.
These plants love rich soils, well drained with slightly acidic pH; use a mixture of peat, sand and universal soil, adding a small amount of organic fertilizer. It is important to know that the soil used for our plants is their main source of nourishment. For this reason, the choice of soil must be weighted according to the real needs of our ixora plants.
The multiplication takes place by seed, in spring. In the same season, it is also possible to do some woody cuttings, which are to be rooted in a compound of sand and peat in equal parts; as soon as they have rooted, the cuttings are to be repotted in single containers and are to be kept in a sheltered and semi-shaded position. The cutting is, in fact, the best solution for the reproduction of our small plants.
This is because the species which will be obtained will be identical to the mother plants used and, furthermore, the cutting is a method of reproduction at no cost. It will be enough, in fact, to have at disposal a fragment of branch of our already ripe plant to give origin to new species.
Ixora: Pests and diseases
These species are generally not afraid of attack by parasites and the development of diseases. Excessive watering or poorly draining soil can favour the onset of radical rottenness; therefore, pay attention to the administration of water. These plants can rarely be attacked by the floccose cochineal. To overcome the problem, use specific pesticide products available from the main nurseries and garden centers.