In the sale of flower shops, you can sometimes find an elegant plant – carissa. It looks very attractive and often arouses the desire to purchase a specimen for growing at home or for a gift. But due to ignorance of the rules of maintenance and care, often after a few months, a deterioration in the condition of the plant becomes noticeable, and soon the carissa may completely disappear. Therefore, having brought a pot with a new representative of the flora from the store, you should learn how to properly care for it.
Carissa is a genus belonging to the kutrovy family. It includes 35 different species, which are medium-sized trees or branched shrubs. Their homeland is the African and Australian tropics and subtropics of Asia.
When grown at home, these plants do not grow into large trees, but more often take the form of bushes with abundant branching. Thorns are considered a feature of the genus; in some species they are very long and sharp – up to 5 cm.
The leaves are opposite, they are thick, leathery, with a glossy surface. Oval leaf blades 3-8 cm in length are painted in a rich green color, and the median veins are white. At the tips of the stems, buds appear, which bloom for a very long time: flowering lasts almost a year. The petals are most often pink in color, and in some species they are snowy white. Sometimes the inflorescences are solitary, and sometimes they are collected in small groups.
During flowering, a pleasant aroma is present in the room, which is most pronounced immediately after the opening of the inflorescences. As a rule, this does not cause allergic manifestations, but all the same, allergy sufferers should be careful with the cultivation of representatives of this genus.
After flowering is complete, fruits that resemble a small plum develop in place of the buds. The size, depending on the variety, can be from 1 to 6 cm. In the first months, the fruit is bright red, and then darkens and becomes dark blue or almost black. Many people are afraid to eat fruits, but they are not only edible but also have a very pleasant taste, reminiscent of strawberries.
Breeders are breeding a large number of new varieties, but more often than others on sale you can find the following types of carissa:
Grow and car
Experts classify this culture as unpretentious, and even a beginner can cope with caring for it. The main thing is to water correctly, monitor the temperature in the room and avoid common mistakes during cultivation.
The flower can adapt to different light levels. Florists indicate that the optimal values are 6-7.8 thousand lux, but it is impossible to determine this value without special devices. For ordinary people, it is enough to know that carissa normally tolerates placement in direct sunlight, so first of all you need to try to place it on the windowsill of the south window.
If this is not possible, then you should not be upset: the plant normally adapts on the western or eastern windowsill. Growth will not stop here, but in order to form buds, there will not be enough lighting. The lack of light can be judged by this sign: the internodes between the leaves become thin and too long. In this case, it is better to rearrange the flower in a sunnier place, since the decorative appearance will soon deteriorate, and it will be almost impossible to restore its original state.
carissa feels great in places that are rarely suitable for other indoor flora: in drafts or in the area of air currents. This makes it possible to often ventilate the room where it grows. It should be remembered that all parts of the plant, except for the fruit, contain poison, so the pot should be placed so that pets and children cannot come into contact with it. Eating leaves or branches can lead to poisoning, and if the juice gets on the skin, irritation occurs.
All members of the genus prefer keeping in different temperatures depending on the season. In summer, 17-25 ° C is considered the ideal range, but you can take the pot outdoors to the garden or balcony. Then higher temperatures are acceptable.
In winter, it is best to ensure a temperature drop in the range of 14-17 ° C.
Such a decrease initiates the formation of buds after the spring warming, otherwise the flowering will be uncooperative and not abundant. The flower is able to withstand more severe cold snaps up to 3 ° C. Even abrupt changes in temperature conditions are tolerated quite well.
If it is impossible to keep it in a cool room during the winter months, then additional lighting must be considered, since natural sunlight in winter carissa may not be enough. For this, fluorescent lamps or special phytolamps that will work 16 hours a day are suitable. With this regime, flowering will not stop even in the colder months of the year.
In the southern regions, the pot is kept on a glazed loggia around the clock, but it should be remembered that the flower will not tolerate frost, therefore, if, according to the forecast, frosts are coming, the container should be brought into the apartment.
There is no need to increase the humidity in the room where the carissa grows because it feels great even in dry climates. The only thing that is advised to do is to periodically have a warm shower. But this is not necessary to increase humidity but in order to wash off the dust from the leaves, which is very noticeable on glossy leaf plates and spoils the appearance of the bush. In addition, the dust layer traps the sun’s rays on the way to the leaves, so a dusty plant may experience a lack of light.
The main rule for watering any of the representatives of this genus is the use of water, which has been defended for at least a day. The fact is that the flower is very sensitive to chlorine contained in tap water, and it takes time to eliminate it. Water should be defended in an open container.
As for the frequency of watering, it is best to water the carissa quite often, but in small portions. It must be remembered that in dry soil, the bush feels normal no longer than 5-7 days, and then it begins to dry out. This can be understood by the loss of turgor of the leaf plates: they become flaccid, and then wrinkled.
Excessive watering leads to disruption of gas exchange in the soil, which provokes acidification, and with constant overflow, rotting of the root system begins. To correctly determine whether watering is necessary, you should pay attention to the top layer of the substrate: moistening should be carried out when 4-5 cm of soil on the surface is well dried.
When wintering in a cool room, watering must be carried out less often, otherwise, there is a high probability of activation of fungi and bacterial root flora.
carissa grows very quickly not only at a young age but also after 3 years. This pleases novice florists, but the rapid growth rates lead to a rapid loss of decorativeness due to the thickening of the bush and the acquisition of a sloppy look.
In order for the crown to remain neat, it must be properly shaped. Pruning is carried out in the spring before active growth begins. It is impossible to remove too many branches at once: this will negatively affect flowering and cause erratic growth of shoots. The thinnest branches are cut, and the thickest is cut only 2/3.
In the absence of formative pruning, the flower quickly fills all the free space, begins to bloom worse, besides, it becomes difficult to care for it.
The need for fertilization is determined by how long the plant is in the active stage, that is, it blooms and bears fruit. Active flowering and ripening of fruits require a lot of nutrients, therefore, the flower must be supported with mineral complexes, in which phosphorus is indicated in the first place in the composition. Preparations with a high content of nitrogen components, on the contrary, are undesirable.
The frequency of top dressing is once a month. It is important that the fertilizer is applied to wet soil. Another point is the need for iron chelates. Such complexes need to be applied once every couple of months, otherwise, the plant will suffer from chlorosis: its foliage will become faded, the greens will fade and pale spots will appear on it.
An important point that many overlook: in order to get fruits when grown at home, it is necessary to provide artificial pollination of flowers. To do this, take a cotton swab and collect pollen from some flowers, and then transfer it to the stigmas of other inflorescences. This is very easy to accomplish. It is possible not to carry out artificial pollination when the pot is in the open air, where pollinating insects fly.
At a young age, Carissa grows very quickly, the annual growth is 20-30 cm per year, so for the first three years, it must be replanted annually. Then the growth rate is slightly reduced, and the transplant is carried out as needed.
The transplant is carried out in the spring before the active growth of new shoots begins.
The pot should be chosen so that it is 2-3 cm larger in diameter than the previous container. It is not necessary to take a pot that is too spacious, because this will provoke stagnation of moisture in the substrate. Clay containers are best, but plastic containers are also used with success.
carissa is not considered a very whimsical crop, but among all types of soils, it prefers humus and sandy soils. Alkaline and calcareous soil can provoke micronutrient deficiencies, which will be difficult to regulate with mineral fertilizers.
Sometimes flower growers prefer to prepare the substrate on their own. For this culture, its composition will be as follows:
- sheet soil;
- red peat;
- humus older than 3 years;
All ingredients are taken in equal parts and mixed thoroughly. After that, they are calcined in an oven at 220 ° C to kill parasite larvae, bacteria and fungi.
To ensure good drainage, a drainage layer is arranged at the bottom. To do this, take broken tiles or expanded clay and spread it with a layer of at least 5 cm. This guarantees the drainage of excess water after irrigation and protects the roots from decay in dampness.
Reproduction of carissa is possible in two ways: vegetative and seed. Each grower can choose the one that suits the best.
The seeds of this flower are not often found on sale, the easiest way is to buy them in online stores. It is important to pay attention to the packaging time because after a year the germination rate sharply decreases.
It is quite simple to grow a plant from seeds at home: they are sown in the soil for seedlings, the soil is sprayed and the container is covered with a transparent film. The first seedlings appear in two weeks. Seedling growth rates are very slow. To speed up the process, they can be watered with nitrogen fertilizers at half concentration every two weeks.
The flowering of a specimen grown at home from seeds can be expected no earlier than in a year.
One of the favorite methods of all flower gardens – rooting in water – in the case of carissa, very rarely brings good results. Usually, the lower part of the cutting just rots.
In order to get a full-fledged copy, you need to choose the right branch for grafting. This should be an apical shoot, on which at least 3 full-fledged internodes have been formed. The cut is performed with a sharp, disinfected knife or blade.
Successful cuttings are possible only if the substrate is warmed up. To do this, use special rugs that are placed under the pot. The cut twig is planted in a mixture of peat and perlite, it must be moistened. For the formation of roots, the container is covered with a film or a bag, inside of which high humidity is naturally created.
Rooting takes a long time: two to three months. The success rate with this method does not exceed 30%, so it is better to harvest several cuttings at once. Flowering in specimens cut from adult plants is possible as early as this year.