Plant Care for Dummies – Ixora
Native to warmer parts of the world, where frost is a rarity, the ixora blooms all year round under full sun. Ixora is native to India and has been grown across Asia for millennia and enjoys a place of religious and cultural significance and has different names in different regions. The scientific name, Ixora, is Portuguese variation of the word isvara, Sanskrit for Lord and referring to Shiva. Some texts also say that Ixora is derived from the word Iswari, a name for goddess Parvati, to whom ixora is sacred.
Ixora is a genus of over 500 species, in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. It grows as a small shrub with large clusters of red, yellow, white, pink, or orange flowers that standout like puffballs from the evergreen foliage continuously throughout the year. The plant has glossy leathery leaves that are oval shaped and stiff growing on woody stems.
Started and grown year-round, ixoras are easier to grow outdoors in full sun; nevertheless, maintaining an ixora plant indoors and keeping it blooming can be a challenge. In any case, they are slow growers and require judicious pruning and patience to grow it into a large showy shrub with vibrant flower clusters that bloom through the year.
Common name: West Indian Jasmine, Jungle Geranium, Flame of the Woods, and Jungle Flame
Botanical name: Ixora coccinea, Ixora chinensis
Sunlight: Full to partial sun for vibrant flowering
Air: Well-ventilated plants to avoid black sooty mould infestation. Keep your ixora away from cold drafts that will cause the plant to drop leaves.
Soil: Well-draining potting mix with rich organic matter
Water: Watering regularly to keep the soil moist at all times.
Fertilisers: Before spring with a slow release fertiliser. Or every alternate week with a regular houseplant fertiliser.
Issues: Aphids, Scales, ad Black sooty mould are the only concern but can be dealt with easily.
Sunlight for ixora
Ixoras love the tropical sun. They are their happiest when they get 8-10 hours of direct to partial light in a day. Keep your plants out of the afternoon sun in the harsh summer months to avoid leaf burn. While ixoras can live easily in indirect light, flowering will be infrequent and in smaller clusters.
Placement for ixora
When grown outdoors Ixoras can be grown easily in any spot; however, if you live in areas with harsh dry summer months, ensuring that the plant is shaded from the sun is important to prevent leaf burn. Indoors, keeping an ixora blooming and happy is a little difficult, place it in a spot that gets 7-8 hours of sunlight – direct or partial. A south or west-facing windowsill is a great spot.
Watering for ixora
Ixora likes its soil to be consistently moist, but like all other plants it hates soggy soil. Keep the growing medium rich and well-draining and the soil moist at all times. A good rule of thumb is that the soil should never be allowed to dry out.
Water them often—the right amount will depend on the weather conditions in your area, though watering frequency will decrease considerably in monsoon and winter.
When watering an extremely dried out soil (visible cracks and soil leaving the planter walls) water in batches. Watering all at once allows the water to simply pass through the soil without getting absorbed.
Every time a plant is watered, water it thoroughly till you see some draining out of the drainage hole and always empty the under plate.
Soil for ixora
For a lush and flowering ixora plant, use a soil mixture that is rich in organic matter and peat-based. Ixoras love an acidic soil pH that helps the plant grow thick leathery leaves and bigger bunches of vibrant flowers. Soil mixtures that have a pH level above 7.0 can cause the plant to undergo chlorosis and have a dull foliage colour.
Fertilisers for ixora
Fertilise your ixoras with a slow release fertiliser at the start of spring to get the plant ready for the growth spurt in the warmer months. Augmenting the soil with a handful of good quality compost in the topsoil every month is also a great way to make the plants healthier.
Using a generic houseplant fertiliser every two weeks boosts foliage growth and increases flowering frequency.
Pruning of ixora
Prune your ixora plant after it the blooms die back on the stem to increase branching and diverting growth hormones towards more flowering. Prune your ixora bush to shape it into the desired tidy shape. Ixora plants take very well to pruning and can be trimmed down to only one bud if needed. Flowers bloom on new growth, so pruning tips to promote branching is a great way to increase the blooms on your plant.
Propagating an ixora plant
To propagate your ixora plant, take cuttings in the spring. Ensure that the cutting is from the greener part of the stem to increase chances of rooting. The cutting should have at least 2 to 3 leaf nodes that can be buried into the soil. Rooting ixora is difficult and you might have to use rooting hormone for higher chances of success.
Plant problems for ixora
The major concerns that Ixora plants need protection from are aphids and scale. They are more of a nuisance than a deterrent and can be easily controlled with timely action. Use neem oil spray to keep the pests away.
If your plant’s leaves develop dark spots, it is a clear indication of iron and manganese deficiency. Chlorosis of leaves is a sign of imperfect potting mix, the ixora loves acidic soil pH and it helps the plant grow healthier foliage and bigger brighter blooms.