The kalmia grows quite slowly, and with age tends to form dense bushes with broad, branched crowns. The trunk has dark brown bark, sometimes tending to red; the branches are dark green, they become brown with age.
It has simple, alternate, elongated oval leaves, dark green on the upper page, light green-grey on the lower page; in spring-summer it produces numerous flat, rounded flowers, with five little pronounced lobes, pink or white, grouped in dense clusters. In late summer, the flowers are followed by the fruits, small round semi-woody capsules, which break when ripe to release the seeds.
The kalmia prefers semi-shaded positions, which sunbathe in the late afternoon, to prevent the leaves and flowers from getting hot; in the coldest climate zones, they can be placed also in full sun. It does not fear the winter cold, it is more likely that the plant suffers from the sultry heat of the summer months.
It can be cultivated with good results in different climates due to the rusticity of the plant but it is advisable to pay more attention to the young plants which are more delicate.
- To the genre kalmia belong to about ten shrubs, originating in North and Central America; the most widely grown species in the garden is the K. angustifolia, evergreen shrub, with small plants, which are …
The Kalmia angustifolia needs abundant quantities of water, especially during the spring and flowering months, should be watered regularly, not letting the soil dry too much between one watering and the other. In autumn and winter it should be watered with smaller amounts of water, not to mention that evergreen plants do not have a real rest period, and therefore need care throughout the year.
In the spring, bury mature organic fertiliser at the foot of the plant; in the spring and summer, provide the plant with flowering plant fertiliser every 20-30 days and, occasionally, acidophilic plant fertiliser.
The plants of this species prefer loose soils, well drained, possibly with acid Ph; these shrubs, however, are very rustic and grow also in poor and stagnant soils.
Thanks to its resistance this plant can successfully adapt to different situations and is cultivable even where conditions are not ideal, thanks to the ease of adaptation.
The multiplication of the Kalmia angustifolia takes place by seed and is practiced in spring with the seeds harvested the previous year; if desired, in late spring, we can also make semi-woody cuttings, to be rooted in a container filled with a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts, which is kept in a cool and damp place until the cuttings are completely rooted. The new seedlings and the rooted cuttings are to be cultivated for at least two years in a protected location before being planted.
Kalmia angustifolia: Pests and diseases
The kalmia plants are rather rustic and resistant but it is not infrequent that they are affected by bad white and radical rottenness; sometimes they are attacked by aphids or mites that ruin the flowers and leaves.
- The kalmia owes its name to Peter Kalm, a Finnish disciple of Linnaeus who lived around the eighteenth century. La
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