The ixora is a small evergreen shrub native to India; in nature it reaches 120-150 cm in height, but in pot it remains within 50-60 cm of height. It has thin, woody stems, dark brown in color, with bark that tends to peel over time. The leaves are oval, shiny, leathery, opposite; at the apex of the branches, in summer, it produces large corymbs consisting of small flowers with four petals, delicately scented, generally of a deep red color, although there are varieties with pink, yellow, white and orange flowers. The branches tend to lengthen remaining bare, so it is advisable to prune the plant every autumn, to obtain a more compact vegetation and to give a defined and clean shape to the plant.
These plants love bright positions, possibly exposed to direct sunlight for at least a few hours a day. They fear the cold, they do not tolerate frost, so with the arrival of autumn cold, they should be sheltered indoors, in a bright place, away from heat sources. In places with particularly mild winters they can also be used as garden plants. It is good, however, to shelter our ixora in those places where wind currents are quite strong and frequent.
The ixora need regular watering, especially in the warm months, the soil should always be kept slightly moist, even if the plant can withstand 1-2 days of drought. However, avoid excessive watering that could cause water stagnation and root rot. Every 15-20 days, provide fertilizer for flowering plants mixed with water for watering.
These plants love rich, well-drained soils with a slightly acid 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 nutrition. For this reason the choice of the 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 practice woody cuttings, which must be rooted in a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts; as soon as they have rooted the cuttings, they should be repotted in individual containers and kept in a sheltered and semi-shaded position. The cutting is in fact the best solution for the reproduction of our seedlings. This is because the species that will be obtained will be identical to the mother plants used and in addition, the cutting is a zero-cost reproduction method. In fact, it will be enough to have a branch fragment of our plant already available to give rise to new species.
Ixora: Pests and diseases
These species do not generally fear the attack of pests and the development of diseases. Excessive watering or poorly draining soil may favor the onset of root rot; pay attention to the administration of water. These plants can rarely be attacked by fluffy cochineal. To overcome the problem, use specific pesticide products available at the main nurseries and garden centers.