Ixora Facts and Growing Tips
Ixora is a popular flowering plant among gardeners because of its showy flower clusters. Here are some basic facts about the plant.
- Family: Rubiaceae. As is typical of this family, the leaves are opposite in arrangement.
- Leaves: In Ixora, the leaves are a medium to dark green and particularly leathery and glossy.
- Flowers: The flower appears in clusters at the end of branches. Each cluster may contain up to 60 individual flowers. Each flower is very small and tubular, with four petals. It comes in a variety of brilliant colours like scarlet, orange, yellow and red. The style is forked at the tip, and protrudes slightly out of the corolla tube.
- Fruit: The fruit is a berry containing 1-2 seeds.
Ixora is native to tropical Asia where over 400 species exist. They are mostly shrubs and small trees that are part of the understorey plant community in the tropical forest, but some species can become very tall. People of the region have been using Ixora for generations, not only for ornamental purposes but also, more importantly, for its medicinal qualities.
In southern China, one of the most common native species is Ixora chinensis. Identified by its almost stalkless leaves and red flowers, it is widespread in Southeast Asian gardens and used to treat various ailments like rheumatism and wounds. Ixora coccinea, a dense shrub with scarlet flowers, is native to India where it is widely use in traditional medicine as well. The leaves possess antiseptic properties and the roots can be used to treat diarrhea and fever.
A large number of Ixoras planted in gardens are cultivars with various flower colours, height and leave characteristics. Examples are Ixora chinensis ‘Rosea’ and Ixora coccinea ‘Magnifica’ with red-pink and scarlet flowers respectively. Another species is Ixora casei ‘Super King' that has large clusters of yellow flowers and grows up to 12 feet in height. Dwarf cultivars are also available like Ixora compacta ‘Sunkist’. This species grows to a height of only 60 cm with orange flowers.
The most important thing to remember when planting Ixora is that it must be planted in acidic soil because alkaline soil can result in yellow foliage. Run-off from concrete may cause the soil to become alkaline. To avoid this problem, plant Ixora at least several feet away from concrete structures. Using acid forming fertilizer can help counteract soil alkalinity.
Because Ixora is a tropical plant, it loves the sun. Accordingly, plant it in areas where it can receive full sunlight. Exposure to greater amounts of light will result in compact growth and more flower bud formation. Ixora likes to be watered, but you shouldn’t do it excessively. Try to keep the soil moist since Ixora thrive in humid conditions and make sure the soil is well drained because clogged soil can cause the root to rot.
Ixora is susceptible to aphids, a sap sucking insect. You can use insecticidal soap or eco-friendly plant extract to control aphid populations. Ixora is also sensitive to frost. You will need to move it to warmer areas when the temperature becomes very cold.
To obtain a compact-looking appearance, trim the plant after flowering. Pruning can revitalize older plants. In general, Ixora is suitable as hedges or screens, but it can also be planted in pots. Smaller varieties can be planted around larger plants as edgings.