Catharanthus is a plant that many gardeners pay attention to. It is unpretentious in cultivation and care, besides, it looks very decorative. It is used for open ground, as a pot plant for window sills, balconies, loggias or greenhouses.
The flower belongs to the exotic kutrovye family. Madagascar is considered its homeland, but over time it spread in the wild through the forests of Cuba, India, the Philippines, etc. In subtropical conditions, this flower can grow up to 1.5 m, but when grown in middle latitudes, the dimensions are much more modest – up to 0.6 m.
Upright shoots branch strongly at the tops, and buds immediately form. Flowering occurs 2-2.5 months after germination. Abundant formation of flowers lasts for several months, before the onset of the first cold weather. In place of inflorescences, two-leaflets appear containing elongated seeds. Petals in different species can have a color from snow-white to maroon. In the largest varieties, the flower diameter is 5 cm.
The foliage of the catharanthus also looks decorative: it is green in color, with a shiny surface and white veins. When grown indoors, the plant manifests itself as a perennial, but in open ground it does not withstand frost, therefore it is cultivated as an annual.
Breeders have bred many varieties of this plant, among which you can find representatives of the second and third tiers in the flower garden, as well as dwarf varieties grown in the foreground or in a pot on the windowsill.
There are also ampelous forms with falling, but strong shoots that are resistant to breaking.
In the care of the catharanthus, the culture is unpretentious, so any gardener can successfully grow it. But this plant will bloom profusely if all the necessary conditions and perfect care are provided. This is not at all difficult to do, you just need to follow the basic recommendations.
Quaranthus is not very picky in terms of soil, but it will thrive best in a light, permeable and nutrient-rich dredger mixture. At home, land is often used to grow geraniums.
Often the mixture is prepared independently. For this you need to take:
- riding peat;
- quartz river sand;
- old mullein;
- leaf land;
All components must be mixed in equal parts and calcined in the oven for an hour at a temperature of + 220 ° C.
It is very important to equip a drainage layer at least 3 cm thick at the bottom. To do this, use marble chips, broken tiles or expanded clay.
The plant can endure many negative factors, but it is very bad for drafts or winds. Therefore, a window sill is best suited, on which the window is not used to constantly ventilate the room. In the event that cultivation is carried out in the open ground, then it is best to choose a place on the leeward side of the house or fence, where the winds will not damage the plant.
When planting in a flower garden or in a flower bed, avoid places where there is stagnation of water after rains, because this will lead to the death of the entire planting.
When kept indoors, the catharanthus needs bright lighting, so it needs to highlight the southern or southeastern windows. If there is not enough light, then the stems become long and thin, the decorative effect of the bush decreases sharply, and most likely it will not be possible to return it to normal.
Another caveat concerns the direct rays of the sun: they should not be allowed to fall on the crown. The window at noon should be covered with a newspaper. You can leave a flower in the open sun only if it grows in the garden or the pot is taken out into the garden for the entire warm season. But even then, the bush is gradually accustomed to bright lighting, otherwise burns will appear on the foliage, which then turn into dry places. If their area is more than 30% of the entire leaf blade, then the leaf will fall off. Sometimes flower growers lose almost all the foliage from this flower in this way.
The culture is thermophilic: the ideal temperature range is + 20- + 25 ° . On the street, it easily tolerates higher temperatures, and a cold snap of up to + 10 ° C causes the death of the bush. With the upcoming night cooling, a planter or a pot is brought into the room.
When wintering in the house, it is necessary to lower the temperature to + 12- + 17 ° . It is under this temperature regime that active growth will stop, and if heat initiates growth, then the lack of lighting will affect: the stems will be painful, with long internodes and small leaves. To prevent this from happening, additional lighting will have to be provided. It is best to use phytolamps, but since they are quite expensive, you can replace them with conventional fluorescent lamps. Additional lighting should work in the evening after sunset, so that the full daylight hours are at least 14 hours.
Often, after buying a flower in a flower shop, the owners notice that with home care, the bush is rapidly losing its decorative effect: the ends of the leaves dry out and the appearance deteriorates.
The secret is simple: catharanthus is very dependent on air humidity. This is especially noticeable during the heating season.
To avoid such problems, it is necessary to spray the bush daily from a spray bottle with warm, settled water (preferably softened). In the summer heat, this procedure is carried out two to three times a day. If the pot is left in the room for the summer, but the house is very hot, the right solution would be to place the flower near the aquarium, indoor fountain or air humidifier.
Quaranthus uses a lot of water, and it should be watered abundantly. It is important to ensure that the soil never dries out completely, but stagnant water should not be allowed. After each humidification, excess liquid is removed from the pan.
For irrigation, it is recommended to take warm purified water. The plant does not react well to chlorine, which is in excess in tap water, so it is better not to use it or use it after settling for two days. But melted snow is ideal, only before watering this liquid will need to be heated.
The need for top dressing depends on the stage of development of the catharanthus. In the initial stages, when the bush is actively growing green mass, you can use complexes for decorative and deciduous crops with a high nitrogen content.
At the time of the appearance of the first buds, organic fertilizer should be applied: this will increase their number several times. Then complexes for flowering plants are used (it is possible for petunias or surfinias) with a sufficient concentration of potassium and phosphorus, which contribute to the brightness of the inflorescences and the long flowering of the entire bush. It is necessary to fertilize the catharanthus once every two weeks from April to September, in the fall they stop feeding.
Root top dressing is carried out necessarily on wet soil. Use the dosage indicated in the instructions. It is impossible to make the concentration higher, as this will lead to a serious burn of the roots or the complete death of the flower.
Once a month, top dressing is carried out “according to the sheet”: for this, a solution of the Epin Extra preparation is prepared and the foliage is sprayed with it. Sometimes it is recommended to water with ash water: it is not only a source of minerals, but also has a depressing effect on the fungal flora, from which the culture often suffers.
Formative pruning is not needed for adult bushes. As the bloom fades, faded inflorescences should be removed, as well as old shoots broken by the wind should be cut off.
For specimens that have survived the winter at home, 2/3 spring pruning is recommended. This contributes to the growth of a new crown, which can bloom profusely in the new season.
The juice of the flower contains a whole complex of alkaloids that can cause irritation and allergic reactions on the skin, so all operations with catharanthus should be carried out with rubber gloves. In addition, you need to make sure that it is out of the reach of small children.
For propagation of catharanthus, a vegetative or seed method is used. By any of these methods, you can get a full-fledged copy in a couple of months.
To grow seedlings at home, you need to purchase seeds of the selected variety. It will not work to collect seed on those bushes that are grown on the street: the summer months are not enough for the seeds to ripen to the desired degree. Therefore, they are bought in flower shops.
The ideal time for sowing is mid-April, from this point on, natural light will be enough for the seedlings to grow normally. Seeds are sown in planting containers with moist soil. Planting depth should not exceed 1-2 cm. Germination under favorable conditions is 80-90%.
To create a greenhouse effect, the box is covered with cling film and placed in a dark, warm place with a temperature of 25-30 ° C. When the first seedlings appear, the container is moved to the windowsill. From this point on, the seedlings must be periodically ventilated so that drops of moisture do not condense on the film. You also need to make sure that the soil does not dry out. It is watered from a watering can or sprayed from a spray bottle so as not to wash thin sprouts.
When four full leaves are formed on each seedling, it is necessary to pick seedlings. This contributes to the growth of a powerful root system and branching of the crown. The tops of the shoots are periodically pinched to initiate branching.
Upon reaching a size of 5-10 cm in height, the seedlings are prepared for transplanting to a permanent place. If further cultivation is planned on the street, then young plants need to be hardened. It is impossible to carry it out before the temperature outside becomes above 20 ° C: this will lead to the death of a fragile specimen. For hardening, the container is taken out in the daytime and left outside for an hour. Every day the time spent outdoors increases, and then the seedlings can be left for a couple of nights. After that, she is considered fully prepared for transplantation.
By dividing the bush
This method allows you to effectively propagate an old specimen that has overwintered in a house or apartment. When transplanting a catharantus on the street, an adult bush is divided into two or three divisions. The thicker the bush in the root diameter, the more young specimens can be grown from it.
At the same time, it is advisable not to shake off the root systems from the earth clod: this will contribute to better survival in the new place. For an even better effect, the roots can be crushed with Kornevin or Heteroauxin.
When choosing a shoot for a cutting, it should be borne in mind that it should not be lignified: old stems do not form roots. And the apical cuttings of green color are perfect for this. You can root them in water with the addition of a drop or two of a root stimulator.
You can root cuttings in the soil. To do this, mix sand and black earth in equal parts, moisten it and place the cutting there. Then everything is placed in a transparent bag so that high humidity remains inside.
For the appearance of roots, it is necessary to provide a temperature of at least 20 ° C. The best solution for this would be a heated mat.
Even with the most careful care, the Catharanthus can be attacked by pests. Twisting of leaf plates can be a sign that the flower is affected by parasites: spider mites, aphids, scale insects, whiteflies or mealybugs. To combat these pests, the Aktellik preparation is used, which is sprayed for three weeks with an interval of 7 days.
Sometimes the plant suffers from fungal diseases. This may manifest itself in the fact that the bush withers, although there are no objective reasons for this. In this case, it is transplanted by shaking off all the earth during transplantation and washing the roots in a fungicide solution.
Sometimes, when grown, fungi also affect terrestrial organs. Then on the foliage you can see white or gray areas, under which the green dries out. To cure the crown, you need to spray with fungicides in accordance with the instructions.