The Columnea plant is a rather unpretentious ampelous perennial from the Gesneriev family. Has lowered stems and flowers of bright color. Due to the bizarre shape of the flowers and their fiery colors, the columnea received another name – “goldfish”. In some cases, columnea is compared to orchids, although these plants are not related.
Description of Columnea
Columnea is an epiphyte creeping vine that lives on trees in tropical latitudes. It is this feature that makes it possible to use it as a spectacular ampelous plant. Columnea stems, when emerging, retain their vertical shape for some time, but as they grow, they become falling. Only in some species can they remain erect. At the same time, the stalks of columbus are fragile. Despite the fleshy structure and impressive size (up to 1 m in domestic specimens, up to 4 in natural conditions), it is quite easy to break such a stem. The surface of the branches can be quite densely pubescent. On them are shiny, less often pubescent leaf blades that have the shape of an oval or heart. They are pointed at the ends. The size of each leaf can be up to 10 cm.
Columnea bloom begins in winter or at the very beginning of spring. This is due to the fact that the plant is native to the South American tropics, where this period falls at the end of summer. Buds begin to form around the middle of the shoot, growing out of the leaf axils. Their color can be red, bright orange, yellow or pink. Sometimes flowering takes place in two waves.
Brief rules for growing columnea
The table shows brief rules for caring for a columnea at home.
|Lighting level||Bright lighting is necessary, but direct light rays are contraindicated.|
|Content temperature||In summer it can be room temperature, in winter, the temperature of the content should be reduced to 12-15 degrees.|
|Watering mode||The soil is moistened when the topsoil dries out.|
|Air humidity||The plant needs high humidity.|
|The soil||The optimal soil is considered to be the soil for semi-epiphytes or Gesneriaceae.|
|Topdressing||During growth, the plant must be fertilized regularly.|
|Transfer||You need to transplant a flower only if necessary.|
|Pruning||The flower needs an annual formative pruning.|
|Bloom||Flowering begins in winter or early spring.|
|Pests||Spider mites, whiteflies.|
|Diseases||Plant diseases appear due to improper care.|
Columnea care at home
Columnea belongs to ampelous plants, and can overshadow many other indoor flowers with its beauty and originality. But despite its beauty, it is very rare to find this flower in an apartment. After all, caring for a columnea is not so easy, however, if you follow all the rules, then growing a flower at home will not be a problem.
A home Columnea needs bright, but not direct, rays of light. Lighting should be especially abundant during flowering. Due to the fact that the Columnea does not tolerate direct light, and is also afraid of drafts, even in summer the southern beauty will have to be kept in the room. It is not recommended to take out such plants to the street or even to the balcony.
In the warm season, the columnea is kept at a sufficiently high temperature from 20 to 25 degrees. If the temperature in the room is above 27 degrees, it is necessary to increase the level of humidity in the air, and also to ventilate the room more often.
At the beginning of winter (from December to January), the temperature of the content can be reduced to 12-15 degrees. Such conditions will help the bush to lay more flower buds and bloom more luxuriantly. The period of such “wintering” lasts about 50 days. When sufficiently large (0.5 cm) buds are formed on the bush, the flower is returned to heat.
Watering and moistening the foliage of the columnea can only be done with soft filtered water, where there is no lime. Failure to comply with this condition can adversely affect the health of the flower or even destroy it. It is necessary to water the plant after the top layer of soil in the container has time to dry out. Excess water from the pan is drained after a while. Species with large foliage tend to require more moisture. During the cool wintering period, the amount of watering should be reduced.
The native rainforests of Columnea are characterized by high humidity. It is desirable to create the same conditions for a flower at home. The foliage of the bush is recommended to be moistened daily from a sprayer. The exception is species with pubescent foliage. Do not spray the bushes heavily during the flowering period. Falling on the petals, water droplets can cause them to wilt quickly. In this case, it is better to use humidifiers, create fog, or place the plant on a wide tray filled with large wet pebbles. The bottom of the pot should not touch the water.
The soil for growing a flower is almost independent of its age. Both young and older specimens thrive in the soil for semi-epiphytes or Gesneriaceae. When self-preparing the soil for planting, use a mixture of turf and leafy earth with peat in a ratio of 2: 2: 1. You can also add half of the sand with the addition of sphagnum and charcoal to the resulting substrate. The soil should have a neutral reaction.
For planting, medium-sized low pots are used. A sufficient drainage layer is laid at the bottom.
During the growth of the bush, and especially during the period of bud formation, it must be fertilized regularly. For this, universal mineral compositions for flowering species, including phosphorus and potassium, are suitable. The easiest way is to make such dressings every week along with water for irrigation, using half the dosage indicated. But the drops of the nutrient solution should not fall on the foliage. During the rest of the plant, feeding is not worth it.
The root system of the columnea is as fragile as its stems. Because of this feature, you only need to transplant a flower if necessary. This is done with plants just brought from the store, as well as those that have outgrown their own pot. The bush is carefully pulled out of the old container along with a layer of earth and carefully transplanted to a new place, trying not to destroy the soil ball and not to touch the roots.
To maintain the attractive appearance of the growing columnea, it is pruned annually, after flowering. This allows you to rejuvenate the bush and give it a more flavorful appearance. At the same time, it is necessary to remove dried leaves, wilted flowers, or dry twigs from the plant.
Columnea blooms in winter or early spring. With proper care, the plant can bloom a second time – in summer. There are columnea species that can bloom throughout the year.
Columnea breeding methods
The easiest way to propagate a columnea is by cuttings. The material for it is prepared at the end of winter or in spring, cutting parts of young stems up to 7-10 cm in size. Part of the leaves is removed from the selected cutting, leaving about 5 plates on it. After that, the cuttings are planted on a moist substrate. For its preparation, you can add a little peat to the universal planting soil.
The seedlings must be kept in a warm and bright place, lightly watering the ground as it dries. Moisture stagnation must not be allowed. To create greenhouse conditions, the cuttings are covered with a bag or jar. It usually takes about a month for rooting. As soon as fresh leaves begin to appear on the seedlings, you can move them into your own pots with a diameter of about 8 cm. In this case, they are already transplanted into soil suitable for an adult flower. After a few months, you can repot the young plants in pots about 10 cm in size.
To get a more lush and effective bush, you can plant several cuttings at once in one common and wide enough container.
Growing from seeds
Getting a columnea from seeds is not so easy. The seeds of this plant have a low germination rate, and the seedlings do not differ in vitality. Typically, this method is used by experienced growers who are ready for a long wait and are able to provide the crops with attentive care.
Sowing is carried out at the very end of February. For this, the container is filled with a wet peat-sand mixture, and seeds are spread on its surface. Top them lightly sprinkle with a thin layer of soil, and then cover with glass or a bag. The seedlings will need a temperature of about 24 degrees. The container will have to be ventilated every day. Drying of the soil should not be allowed, but it is also not worth moistening the crops too often.
The first shoots can appear within 3 weeks. Then the container is transferred to a bright place where direct rays do not fall. For a more uniform growth of seedlings, if necessary, additional lighting lamps can be used. When a few true leaves are formed on the sprouts, they are transplanted into their own pots.
Diseases and pests
Too much watering can lead to the development of rot on the roots or stems of the columnea. Immediately after the appearance of such signs, it is necessary to carefully cut off all affected parts, and then treat the cut areas with fungicides. The affected columnea is transplanted into fresh soil. In advanced cases, you can try to preserve the plant by cutting off its healthy shoots. They are used as cuttings.
If the foliage of the columnea begins to turn yellow or fall off, the reason may be too low air humidity or insufficient watering. Low humidity can cause the tips of the leaf plates to dry out. If brownish spots appear on the surface of the foliage, this is a consequence of the use of ice water for irrigation.
The lack of flowering can be caused by a violation of the temperature regime. In winter, the flower buds of the bush should be laid in a cool place, therefore, with the constant content of the columnea in a warm room with flowering, problems may arise.
Sometimes flower pests – spider mites, whiteflies, etc. – can appear on the twigs or leaves of the columnea. They should be fought with the help of insecticidal agents, but it is easier to prevent serious infections. To do this, you must follow all the rules for caring for a column, as well as regularly inspect its foliage.
Types and varieties of columnea with photos and names
Hybrid forms of columnea are considered more undemanding to care than their natural species. Of the many varieties and varieties of columnea, the following are considered the most famous and common:
The bush of such a columnea is strewn with many small rich green leaves. During the flowering period, bright yellow flowers are formed with a red border along the edges of the petals.
A fast-growing Panamanian species that form thin and long vine shoots. The foliage has a glossy sheen and is up to 2 cm in size. The flowers are fiery red with yellow streaks in the pharynx area. The dimensions of each reach 8 cm.
The bush forms small, dark green foliage. Forms bright red-orange flowers.
Blood-red columnea (Columnea sanguinea)
The Antilles are considered the birthplace of the species. The plant is a semi-shrub, has thickened stems and rather large (up to 30 cm) leaves. On the outside, they are green, and on the inside, they are supplemented with reddish streaks and spots. The emerging flowers are also bright scarlet. They emerge from the sinuses in groups of several flowers.
Hybrid form. Forms one-meter shoots covered with fine green waxy foliage. From the inside, it is painted bronze. The flowers have a yellow tube and red-orange petals. Their sizes reach 6 cm. The flowering period is in the spring.
Such plants are distinguished by more fleshy leaves. Unlike most species, the plates are not smooth but have noticeable pubescence. The flowers combine red and yellow tones, and their size reaches 8 cm. One of the varieties of such a columnea, Purpurea, has purple leaves.
Another species with pubescent foliage. The plates themselves are colored green, but the villi on them are reddish. They are located both on the front side of the sheet and on the inside. Buds can form not only in the upper part of the stem but also along its entire length. The flowers have a variegated yellow-burgundy color, reminiscent of brindle.