Amazing Afelandra needs special care
Beautifully flowering, herbaceous and shrubby plants of the Afelandra genus – natives of the tropical regions of the South American continent. According to various estimates, there are from 40 to 190 varieties and species, but only a small part of the natural diversity is grown as ornamental crops..
Despite the attractiveness of large bright inflorescences, decorative foliage and rapid growth, aphelands are quite rare in the collections of indoor floriculture lovers. Can Afelandra be kept at home? What is holding back florists?
There are several reasons for a cautious attitude towards an attractive plant:
- Since in nature Afelandra can have a height of up to 1.5–2 meters, even indoors, in a few years a compact specimen, when purchased, turns into a voluminous bush with bare shoots. That is, the former decorativeness is lost, and the plant needs much more space than before..
- A native of the tropics is capricious, needs special growing conditions and constant attention. Therefore, home care for Afelandra is within the power of experienced and very meticulous flower growers..
- Many indoor plant lovers fear that vibrant tropical crops could be toxic to humans and animals. With regard to Afelandra, this fear is unfounded..
Doctors and botanists have no data on the content of any dangerous substances either to the foliage or in the flowers of cultivated species of this plant..
What types are most often found in home conditions?
Indoor Afelandra: types and features
Orange aphelandra (Aphelandra aurantiaca) occurs naturally in Mexico and other parts of Central America.
Like other varieties, this is a perennial shrub with a reddish-gray succulent stem, oblong-ovate leaves up to 25 cm long and inflorescences in the form of a pointed apical spike. Afelandra got its name thanks to the fiery orange flowers, which, unfortunately, delight the grower for only about a week. Look at the photo of the indoor oleander flower!
The bulging aphelandra (Aphelandra squarrosa) also grows in South America. The shape of the crown, leaves and inflorescences is very similar to the previous variety, but it is easy to distinguish it by the contrasting pattern along the veins on the leaf plates and the light yellow color of the flowers..
Aphelandra tetragona (Aphelandra tetragona) stands out with a rich green foliage and large scarlet flowers located on the inflorescence in the form of a kind of ridges.
Aphelandra coral or Panamanian (Aphelandra sinclairiana) grows in Honduras, Nicaragua, in wooded areas in Panama and Costa Rica. In nature, the shrub reaches a height of three meters, and differs from the species described above in the shape of the bracts and various shades of flowers, which can be pink, red, orange or lilac.
All species of Afelandra bloom in the wild during the summer months. At home, where there is no obvious change of seasons, the flowering and development of the plant depends on the care and conditions created..
How to care for Afelandra in order to achieve the most lush and frequent flowering and keep the decorative effect of the bush longer?
Conditions for growing Afelandra in the house
If an Afelandra appears on the windowsill, the florist should be ready to pay maximum attention to the new pet. A resident of the tropics, where daily temperature fluctuations are insignificant, is accustomed to heat, light and high humidity..
Afelandra does well at home in a temperature range of 18 ° C at night to 27 ° C during the day. Cooling down to 13 ° C after a few days will make itself felt by the appearance of brown spots on the foliage, and then by rotting of the roots.
The shadow is not for Afelandra. This plant needs bright enough, but not direct, but diffused light. It depends on the creation of suitable light conditions how soon the owner will wait for the flowering of the South American guest:
- Exposure to the bright sun leads to deformation of the sheet plates..
- Lack of light reduces the attractiveness of the bush, the leaves turn pale and shrink, the shoots quickly stretch out.
It is important to maintain the lighting mode not only in summer, when it is easy to do it, but also in winter, which is more burdensome in cloudy weather and short daylight hours..
But this is not the only difficulty. In the cold season, caring for afelandra at home is difficult for several reasons:
- maintaining an acceptable temperature;
- finding a place where the plant will not be disturbed by drafts;
- creating high air humidity in the room where the plant pot is located.
You can increase the humidity using any available means, for example, using a household humidifier, regularly spraying the foliage with warm, settled water, or a container with water located next to the aphelandra.
Watering and feeding Afelandra
Afelandra does not tolerate both dry soil and stay in an excessively humid environment. Like most indoor plants, for this culture in the summer, especially with active growth and flowering, it is necessary that the earthy clod constantly maintains moisture. With the onset of autumn, watering is reduced, so that during the time between them, the topsoil dries slightly.
But a fast-growing culture needs more than moisture. A flower grower cannot do without monthly replenishment of nutrients that the flower took from the soil.
To maintain the growth and flowering of aphelandra at home, they carry out top dressing with complex formulations containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in a ratio of 3: 1: 2.
In order for the plant to be healthy and strong, it is not enough to know how to care for the aphelandra, it must be transplanted every year. Since even an adult specimen does not require a large container with soil, using a transplant, you can regulate the growth of a room specimen, as well as push the plant to form inflorescences.
When choosing a ready-made soil or making your own soil mixture, it is important to remember that the culture feels best in a substrate with an acidity of 5.5 to 6.5. When the care of the Afelandra, as in the photo, is carried out correctly, the plant grows quickly and constantly gives new healthy foliage..
- If the pH < 5.5, the leaves turn yellow, the formation of inflorescences and buds is disturbed.
- In alkaline soil and pH > 7.0 Afelandra slows down development and gradually dies.
To obtain a suitable soil, you can mix in equal proportions:
- leafy ground;
- brown peat;
- washed sand.
It is easy to structure the resulting mixture if you introduce a little crushed charcoal into it, which also has an absorbing effect..
If the substrate is too dense, vermiculite is mixed into it. Sphagnum moss will be useful in the soil mixture..
How to care for afelandra after flowering
When purchasing Afelandra, not all growers know the features of this plant and its requests for care in indoor conditions. Therefore, for many it comes as a surprise when literally a month later, that is, after the inflorescences wither, a compact plant begins to change.
Nature takes its toll, and growth, previously restrained by flowering, begins, the lower leaves quickly fall off, the shoots are bare and elongated. If you do not take measures, even with proper care for the aphelandra at home, it will bloom, but it will turn into a real bush, as nature intended.
Only regular pruning of the plant will help to maintain compactness and dimensions that are acceptable for an apartment. It is carried out in late winter or early spring, cutting off most of the main stem and leaving several dormant buds in its lower part for further growth. This technique allows you to keep the afelandra in shape and even increase the number of inflorescences formed. And during the growing season, the culture is useful to pinch young shoots.