The indoor flower Pedilanthus recently came to our homes from the wooded subtropics and tropics of Central America. In nature, it is found in areas that are quite different in their climatic conditions, which led to significant differences in its different species among themselves. The plant is attractive to flower growers with bright decorative foliage and an interesting shape of juicy shoots. The very exotic look and small flowers of this exotic, for the appearance of which it received its name, which translates as “flower-shoe”.
General description with photo
Pedilanthus is one of the many members of the Euphorbiaceae family and is an abundantly branching shrub or takes a tree-like form. Members of the genus can vary greatly depending on the growing conditions. The maximum height is 3 m for tree-like forms. Shoots of cylindrical cross-section and zigzag shape can be divided into segments. Their color varies from light olive and grayish to dark green. The shape of the leaf plate is often oval, pointed to the end, can be pubescent or glossy, smooth. Coloration is variegated, of different color combinations (often with pink) in variegated species. The length of the leaves on average is 10 cm. The plant has a pronounced period of rest, in which it can drop up to 50% of its foliage.
How does pedilanthus bloom?
Despite the exotic appearance of the inflorescences, flowering is not considered its main decorative element. Its flowers themselves are small (about 3 cm) and nondescript, but bracts are much more interesting and bright in appearance, the color of which can vary from pale pink to deep red.
Like the rest of the Euphorbiaceae family, the plant contains milky sap, which is poisonous.
Types of pedilanthus with photos
The genus has a dozen and a half species, among which there are shrubs, and small tree-like representatives, and leafless succulents with segmented shoots in which they accumulate water. Not all of them are suitable for care at home.
One of the most unpretentious species, and therefore the most popular as indoor cultivars. Leaves have the ability to change their color depending on the conditions of detention. They can be olive green, pink, light beige in various combinations of these colors from speckles to colored edgings. After the appearance of a new leaf, the shoot changes the direction of its growth, which is why it becomes a zigzag. Because of this feature, the flower received two more popular names – “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Devil’s Ridge”.
This variety has medicinal properties, its poisonous juice is used not only in folk but also in official medicine. In different countries, it is used for the manufacture of antimicrobial and psychotropic drugs.
The habitat of natural growth is the hot desert regions of Mexico. Under these conditions, the plant took the form of a leafless, but flowering succulent. Its cylindrical shoots are divided into segments, have a light green, almost gray color. In some varieties, this variety may have an oblate shape. Flowers-shoes are painted in a yellow-pink range.
Places of natural growth are humid tropical forests. It has a bush shape, zigzag shoots and glossy leaves of rich variegated color. This is due to its second name – variegated. When grown in culture, this species is especially responsive to nutritious loose soil.
Care at home
In care, the flower is so simple that you might think that it grows by itself. But for better decorativeness, it is still desirable to create appropriate home conditions for him.
By and large, the plant will feel good at shading, but if you want to get bright and lush foliage, because of which this indoor flower, in fact, is grown, then you need to take care of bright diffused lighting. Standing under the direct midday sun will only appeal to the succulent variety. If in the summer it is possible to take the pot outside, pedilanthus will be happy with it, but the flower should be protected from rain and gusts of wind. In winter, you can put it even on the southern window, the sun will not harm it at this time of year.
The flower loves fresh air, so even in winter it likes frequent ventilation, but without dangerous drafts It does not have special temperature requirements, in summer it feels great in the range of + 23 … + 28C, and in winter it likes cool content, preferably not higher than + 18C, which is easily achieved if the plant stands on the windowsill.
With temperature fluctuations or their inconsistency with the recommended ones, the flower will endure uncomfortable conditions, but can simultaneously lose all the foliage and slow down growth.
Culture does not require the creation of a special humidity regime.
Many descriptions of caring for pedilanthus at home contain a requirement to water it with soft settled water. However, experience shows that this requirement is not mandatory, the plant perfectly tolerates water from the tap, if it is not icy. As for the moisture regimen, it implies frequent and abundant watering in the hot summer (at least 4-5 times a week) and rare maintenance in the winter (with cool content, 1 time per week is enough). In any case, the need for the next watering is determined visually.
As for spraying, you need to be careful with them. Pedilanthus, like many other decorative-deciduous, does not like spraying with hard chlorinated water, after which ugly stains may remain on the leaves.
Experienced flower growers consider complex compositions for cacti to be a suitable fertilizer for this culture. It is enough to make them once a month. When choosing fertilizers intended for ornamental deciduous, you should pay attention to the content in the composition of nitrogen. They shouldn’t be there.
Nitrogen fertilization is detrimental to Pedilanthus!
The soil mixture can be purchased ready-made, designed for growing cacti and succulents. If you have to select the composition yourself, then attention should be paid to its moisture permeability, looseness and nutrition. For example, you can take in equal quantities sand and two types of earth – leaf and turf.
Regular gentle pruning is required to maintain the decorative shape. In order to rejuvenate the old bush, pruning can be radical, in this case about 10 cm of shoots are left. The cut is made with a sharp knife or garden secateurs, its place should be immediately treated with gray or coal dust and not moistened.
How to propagate pedilanthus?
The easiest, most affordable and fastest way is propagation by cuttings. They should be cut about 10 cm long, the most beautiful and neat bushes are obtained from apical cuttings. Chopped planting material should be rinsed in water and put for a day to dry. After that, the cuttings are planted in sand or perlite and are not covered with anything. The practice of covering with a film to create greenhouse conditions for this culture is not useful – cuttings will begin to rot. The optimal temperature for rooting is + 25C. The rooting process lasts about 3 weeks, after which it is transplanted into a permanent container.
The plant has medium-sized, proportional to the above-ground part of the rhizome, so you should focus on the need for transplantation by the volume of the crown. The width and height of the flower pot should be approximately equal to each other. Transplantation should begin in the spring when the growth of the first young leaves will be noticed. Until the root system grows to the full width of the pot, there is no need for transplanting. The soil during the “housewarming party” must be changed completely, as far as possible. After transplanting, the plant is left in a shaded place for at least a week for final adaptation.
It is necessary to work with gloves, because its juice is poisonous!
Errors in cultivation
- There is no flowering – the flower did not rest, the conditions of winter maintenance were violated, for example, watering was not reduced or fertilizers were applied. Also, the cause may be a constant draft or poor lighting.
- The leaves turn pink – partial pinkness of the leaves is the norm, especially when the flower is standing in the open sun. They will never completely change the color to pink.
- Leaves fall off – in winter, this is also the norm if the loss does not exceed 50% of all foliage. If the leaves fall off in the season of active vegetation, you should check with the recommended rules of cultivation and find an error. Most likely, the reason lies in the violation of the rules of watering or in a sharp change in temperature.