This exotic plant often makes vacationers stop in the southern regions to take some spectacular photos. But few people know that albizia may well be a room dweller. If you master the basics of growing this plant, take into account the rules of care, then bright flowers will delight owners and guests for a long time.
Albizia is a tropical tree that got its name in honor of the Italian naturalist Filipe Albizzi, who first delivered an exotic to Europe from Constantinople. Because of this, it is also called the Constantinople acacia. Its homeland is the tropics and subtropics, but the maximum number of species is found in Africa and Australia.
In the wild, the height of adult specimens reaches 12 meters, while the crown is spreading, wide. In some species, the main trunk is formed, as in a tree, in others – several main shoots, as in typical shrubs. Outwardly, representatives of the genus really resemble acacia. But during flowering, the plant turns into a fiery or white ball, and the shape of the flowers reveals the relationship with mimosa. Flowering lasts 4-5 months, while a pleasant aroma is in the air.
But the plant looks decorative not only during flowering. The main characteristic for which albizia is appreciated is openwork foliage, creating a feeling of comfort and coolness. There is an interesting feature: at night, the leaf plates are folded, and with the sunrise they open again, which allows the plant to retain maximum moisture in the cells. It’s a deciduous crop. In the wild, leaves fall off with a lack of moisture and a reduction in daylight, as in other deciduous species.
Indoor specimens are inferior in size to their wild relatives. When grown in the open ground or in winter gardens, representatives of the genus can also reach their natural height.
There are more than 100 types of albizia, but the most popular are:
- Lankaran or silk (Albizia julibrissin). Tall form, up to 15 m high. It has a straight trunk and an openwork crown. An interesting coloring of the foliage: on top it is bright green, and on the bottom – whitish. Leaf fall occurs in late autumn. Flowering lasts all summer, while the cream inflorescences gradually replace each other. After wilting, a dark green or brown bean remains, inside of which flat seeds are placed.
- Tufted (Albizia lophantha). A variety with more modest dimensions – up to 6 m high. The leaf blades are pubescent, the leaves are narrow, but there are more of them than those of Albizia julibrissin. The petals and stamens are colored in delicate yellow shades. The inflorescences are 5 cm long, open in March, and in May flowering is already completed.
- Lebbeck (Albizia lebbeck). Dwarf form, not growing above 1.5 m in room conditions. It is considered an exception to the rule, as it is able to bloom in any month of the year – from January to December. The petals are yellow and tender. It is widely used in medicine as a component of drugs and aromatic oils.
- Sickle (Albizzia falcata). The fastest growing variety, used in the woodworking industry.
For indoor cultivation, Lankaranskaya is best suited. A very beautiful variety of this type of albicium is Pompadour. The bright red and bright pink color of the inflorescences is a characteristic feature of this species. It is hardy, can tolerate prolonged droughts. It is from albizia Pompadour that bonsai are most often created, but in this case you can forget about flowering. But the foliage of this form is incredibly exotic.
Rules of cultivation
Planting and caring for albizia in the open ground is most successful in the South in tropical and subtropical climates. This fragile-looking plant is able to tolerate frosts up to -15 ° C. The temperature of -20 ° C is considered critical – not only the above-ground part freezes, but also the root.
No less successfully, albizia is grown as a houseplant. To do this, it is enough to get acquainted with the basic rules of care and apply them in practice.
Good lighting is crucial for the growth of this plant. With a lack of light, the crown will be elongated, bare, the tree will become weak and will hurt. At the same time, indoor specimens, unlike outdoor ones, can get burned when exposed to direct sunlight, so diffused light is necessary. This is achieved by shading.
It is important not to put the pot on a draft, otherwise at best the foliage will fall, at worst – rot of the root system will develop. In the summer, the plant is advised to expose to fresh air – in the yard or on the balcony.
In summer, the best temperature range is 20-25 ° C. If it gets hotter, the growth of young shoots slows down. Wintering is of two types: at low temperature and under normal room conditions. The first is preferable, since it is after it that flowering will be abundant. Warm air in the cold season can provoke the appearance of parasitic insects.
One of the main problems in the cultivation of albizia is seasonality. In winter, the temperature of the content should drop to 9-10 ° C. At the same time, all processes slow down in it, the leaves fall off, and growth stops until spring. It is better to move the pot to where there is no light: photosynthesis is still suspended until a new green mass builds up.
However, not every apartment has conditions for a cool winter. Then it is necessary to provide additional lighting for the winter. Phytolamps, fluorescent lamps or reflectors will help. Watering is not reduced. Leaf fall with warm wintering can be only partial. In this case, you need to periodically inspect the foliage – are there any parasites. Preventive treatment with systemic insecticides will not hurt.
In summer, albicia is watered abundantly once a week, in extreme heat – 2 times more intense. If we are talking about bonsai, they try to withstand pauses between waterings.
Water with both the upper and lower method (in the pallet), but the lower one is preferable.
The water should be softened and warm (a couple of degrees above the ambient temperature). After 20-30 minutes, excess water from the pallets is removed, since excessive amounts can cause rotting of the roots.
The plant does not need additional moisture, as it easily tolerates dry air. The standard sign of dryness of the atmosphere for many indoor flowers – yellowing of the tips of the leaf plates – in this case speaks of diseases.
During the first year of life, young plants do not need to be fed, but further to build up the vegetative mass, and even more so for flowering, a stable supply of nutrients is necessary. They are introduced every 2 weeks or every week with a decrease in the recommended concentration by 2 times.
Complex preparations for decorative deciduous ones are used, and during buton formation they are replaced by complexes for flowering crops. From autumn, fertilizing is excluded. If a warm wintering is planned, then during the cold months fertilizers are applied in a minimum concentration (1/4 of the recommended dose) once a month.
Young plants during the first year of cultivation grow moderately, then increase the growth rate. It is necessary to transplant them for the first 5 years of life annually, after – every 3 years. It is best if the transshipment method is used for this – take out an earthen lump, place it in a new container and fill the free space with soil.
The larger the volume of the albizia pot, the higher it will grow, since its height is related to the size of the root system.
For transplantation, you can purchase a universal nutrient soil. Experts recommend adding perlite or vermiculite to it to increase permeability to water and air. An option for self-preparation of the substrate is possible. To do this, you need the following components:
- turf earth – 3 parts;
- black peat – 2 parts;
- sand, perlite or vermiculite – 1 part.
The mixture must be disinfected with a weak solution of potassium permanganate and calcination in the oven at a temperature of 200 ° C for 1 hour. Such treatment will suppress the development of pathogenic microflora and kill parasite larvae.
When choosing a pot, you need to take a container 2-4 cm in diameter larger than the previous one. There should be drainage holes in the bottom. A drainage layer of claydite or broken shingles is also mandatory. Its thickness is 4-5 cm.
To maintain a decorative appearance 2 times a year, it is necessary to carry out sanitary pruning. In the spring, with a sterile sharp tool, remove all dry branches or places with signs of lesions, spots, etc. After flowering, it is time to remove dried buds or fruits. You can leave the pods on the tree if there are plans to collect seeds. But if seed reproduction is not planned, then it is better to cut off the fruits so that the flower does not give all the resources to ripening.
The easiest way to start an albicium at home is to purchase it at a flower shop or garden center. Some flower growers prefer to grow a new houseplant on their own, especially since this method is cheaper.
For this, 2 methods are suitable:
- cuttings – perhaps if someone you know already has such a flower;
- seeds – a longer process that requires certain skills and abilities.
Both methods are moderately complex, they do not guarantee 100% success, but they are suitable for the experiment.
In late May or early July, it is necessary to harvest this year’s shoots from the sides of the crown. It should be pruned so that the “heel” remains – a small part from the mother branch. Cuttings should be semi-woody. Their size is 10-15 cm.
For cuttings, a soil mixture of sand and peat is prepared. They are mixed in equal parts. The cut before immersion is recommended to be powdered with root formers – “Kornevin”, “Zircon”, etc. For rooting, a temperature of 16-17 ° C is necessary. After 2-3 weeks, the result will become clear – if everything went well, then a new increase will appear. After that, the seedlings are planted in separate containers and cared for in the same way as for adult specimens.
Growing albizia at home from seeds is a matter that even a beginner can master. You can order seeds on the Internet or buy in the store. It is important to pay attention to the year of packaging, because after 3 years the germination rate is much lower.
Pre-sowing preparation is needed. It consists in soaking for 2 days. In this case, the seed material should stand in a warm place. During this time, the seeds swell, after which they are placed in a mixture of coarse-grained sand and black peat, sprinkled necessarily on top. The container is placed in a place with a temperature of 20-23 ° C. It is necessary to monitor so that the soil does not dry out. It is advisable to spray it from a spray gun, otherwise you can wash the seeds out of the ground.
Before germination, it is better to create greenhouse conditions. To do this, you can cover the container with film or glass. Periodically, they need to be removed so that mold and other fungi do not get inside. Crops germinate for a long time – several months. As soon as the first sprouts appear, the cover is removed. When they have 4-5 leaves, you can plant seedlings in separate containers. Care and cultivation are further carried out according to general rules.
With the cultivation of albicium, there are usually no problems, but occasionally such difficulties are possible:
- The plant sheds its buds. Most likely, watering was missed, and in order to preserve the supply of moisture, the flower sacrificed reproduction.
- The foliage wilts, although the timing is still long before the leaf fall. There are 2 possible reasons – a lack of moisture or a substrate with poor air permeability.
- The leaves lose their color intensity. You need to move the pot to a lighter place.
- Dark spots on leaf plates. Such a picture is a sign that the flower is in a draft, it must be moved to a more suitable place.
If you follow all the rules and recommendations, then the cultivation of albicia, the care of an exotic plant will bring complete pleasure from the contemplation of a beautiful, lush and abundantly blooming specimen.