Aphelandra is a beautiful evergreen plant that attracts many flower growers with chic decorative leaves and unusual flowering. These original flowers often decorate not only home interiors, but also halls, exhibition halls, and are also grown in greenhouses and winter gardens. How to properly care for a fastidious exotic beauty so that she pleases with a spectacular appearance, we will tell in this article. Subject to all the recommendations, the flower will become a luxurious decoration and allow you to admire its beauty for a long time.
Aphelandra (transcription from Latin Aphelandra) is a genus that is part of the Acanthus family and includes 200 species of angiosperms. These are herbs, shrubs and shrubs growing wild in the tropics / subtropics of Central and South America.
Home representatives of Aphelandra are low beautiful bushes from 30 to 70 cm with straight stems. One of the main decorations of plants is large shiny oval leaves located oppositely on the stem and having a smooth or prickly surface. On the dark green sheet plastic, quite wide veins of white or yellowish color are clearly expressed. Small flowers are collected in 4-corner spike-shaped inflorescences, while large and hard bracts of a contrasting shade enhance the decorative effect of flowering. The color scheme of the aphelandra depends on the species: the bracts can be green or all shades of yellow, and the color of the flowers can vary from light yellow to scarlet and bright red. Flowering occurs from the second half of summer to September and lasts from 7 to 60 days, depending on the species.
At home, various types and varietal hybrids of Aphelandra are usually grown, which differ slightly in appearance, but, as a rule, require the same care.
In room culture, the following types are most popular:
- Protruding or aphelandra Squarrosa is the most common in home floriculture. This is a compact shrub plant, no more than 50 cm high, with large leaves of deep green color, on which wide snow-white stripes along the veins stand out in contrast, for which the flower is also called “zebra”. Small flowers of light colors fall quickly enough, but bright bracts continue the aesthetically attractive effect of flowering. Blooms for 1.5 – 2 months. The species is characterized by increased endurance and cold resistance, enduring temperatures down to 10 ° C.
- Orange is a low-growing evergreen flower whose juicy, thick and reddish stem becomes woody with age. Oval-oblong long leaf blades, pointed upwards, have a silvery-green hue, and flowers with bracts are juicy orange. The flowering period is short – no more than 10 days.
- Retzla is a cultivated variety that is distinguished by a lush leaf cover with a predominance of white tones and long red-orange inflorescences. Blooms for about a week.
- Tetrahedral – a flower with large leaves and 15-centimeter inflorescences of a scarlet hue with green bracts.
- Sinclair is a taller species with rich green leaves, beautiful inflorescences and a coral bract.
In Russian interiors, there are other types of aphelandra, such as Denmark and Libona.
Aphelandra is a fast growing plant. During the year, 5-6 new leaves grow on a young flower, and 4-5 new shoots appear in the second year.
The seed material is sown in small containers with a substrate of fertile soil (4 hours) and sand (1 hour). Sprinkle on top with a thin layer of fine sand, spray with a spray bottle and cover with polyethylene or glass. For seedlings to germinate, it is necessary to observe a temperature regime of about 22 ° C. Bottom heating can be used to speed up germination. The mini-greenhouse must be periodically ventilated and the accumulated condensate removed. After 2-3 weeks, the first sprouts should appear. When 2-3 true leaves grow on the seedlings, they are carefully dived into separate pots.
It is recommended to propagate by cuttings in the spring. In March-April, 10-15 cm cuttings with 2 leaves are cut with a sharp knife. To accelerate the development of roots, sections are treated with phytohormones (Kornevin and others). Next, the cuttings are rooted in a moist soil mixture of peat and sand and covered. Every day, the mini-greenhouse is ventilated, and the cuttings are sprayed. At 22-25 ° C and observing agricultural technology, they should take root in 1-1.5 months. Young flowers are transplanted into individual containers. Aphelandra can also be propagated by leaves with an axillary bud. They are cut from shoots without flowers and rooted in a fertile substrate with the addition of sand, charcoal.
Important! It is necessary to completely eliminate drafts and avoid sudden temperature changes, and also make sure that the earth does not dry out.
When caring for aphelandra at home, it is necessary to provide both sufficient illumination and optimal humidity, suitable temperature conditions and periodic top dressing.
For planting, choose a fairly large flowerpot, as the plant grows quickly. At the bottom of the tank, a drainage layer of expanded clay, small pebbles, etc. is necessarily made. The earth is taken fertile, air- and moisture-permeable. The optimal substrate consists of leafy soil, peat, humus, sand in a ratio of 2:2:2:1. Charcoal can be added to the soil mixture, and a little superphosphate. Can be grown hydroponically.
Illumination and temperature conditions
This light-loving flower is recommended to be placed in a well-lit place, excluding exposure to direct sunlight. If he stands on the windowsill of the south window, then at noon it is necessary to provide shading in order to avoid burnout and burn the leaves. Windows on the east and west sides are optimally suited.
With a lack of lighting, it is necessary to artificially illuminate the aphelandra with fluorescent lamps or phytolamps. In the summer, and especially on hot days, it can be taken out onto a balcony or street, providing shade and protection from drafts.
For a heat-loving flower, the temperature is considered the most comfortable: in summer – 23-27 ° C, after flowering and in autumn 20-22 ° C, in winter – not lower than 18 ° C.
Aphelandra quickly and negatively reacts to the lack and excess of moisture.
Watering and humidity
Regular, but moderate – 3 times a week. Soft settled or distilled water is suitable for irrigation. Waterlogging should not be allowed, as the roots begin to rot immediately. In summer, the soil should be well moistened, and in winter, have time to dry a little between waterings. On hot days, but not during the flowering period, the plant is sprayed and the leaves are rubbed, and watering is reduced in winter. If the air is too dry, then household humidifiers are additionally used or the pot is placed on a tray with pebbles and a little water.
From the beginning of spring, aphelandra requires top dressing for normal development and flowering. Usually fed with mineral fertilizers with a high content of phosphorus. In summer, top dressing is applied at intervals of once every 2 weeks. When the first buds appear, fertilizers are applied every week.
Pruning and transplant
Held in the spring. Young flowers are transplanted annually, adults – every 3-4 years. During the winter months, the plant usually stretches, losing its decorative effect. To stimulate the growth of young shoots and form a beautiful shape, pruning is necessary. Shoots are cut to 20-25 cm and covered with foil for a while. It is also practiced to pinch shoots with several leaves.
After planting, the aphelandra will bloom for the first time in 9-12 months. At this time, it is not sprayed. For more lush flowering, faded inflorescences must be removed.
After flowering, an exotic plant needs a dormant period. For 2-3 months, the temperature is reduced and watering is significantly reduced. Otherwise, the plant simply may not bloom next season.
One of the most common problems is leaf drop. The reason may be insufficient lighting, low temperature, poor watering and drafts. If the tips of the leaf blades turn brown, then most likely the humidity is too low. The leaves turn yellow, the inflorescences become smaller – the cause may be in excessively acidic soil. At the same time, the flower does not grow in alkaline soil. The optimal indicator is pH from 4.5 to 5.5.
Aphelandra will grow slowly if you do not carry out periodic top dressing. Although the flower is quite sensitive to a deficiency or excess of minerals:
- deficiency of N leads to yellowing of the leaves, an excess – inhibits flowering;
- lack of P – the inflorescences become smaller, the color intensity decreases;
- K deficiency is manifested by yellow and brown spots on the leaf blades.
Aphelandra is sometimes affected by aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, when brown tubercles appear along the veins. In this case, you need to wipe the leaves and stem with a sponge with soapy water and spray with an insecticidal agent (Aktellik or Fitoverm). With fungal infections, manifested by rot, weeping spots, wilting, all affected parts are removed, and the plant is treated with fungicides (Skor, Topaz, etc.).