x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Plant Library: Jungle flame

This hardy ornamental flowering shrub enjoys tropical climates.

The Jungle Flame grows well in tropical climates. iStockphoto.com
The Jungle Flame grows well in tropical climates. iStockphoto.com

Ixora spp, jungle geranium, flame of the woods Ixora is a genus of more than 400 species, with a handful cultivated for ornamental use. A favourite among gardeners and landscapers in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, Ixora is a hardy ornamental flowering shrub or small tree that comes in a dazzling variety of shapes, sizes and vibrant colours.

The three most widely available species are the red flowered Ixora coccinea, yellow Ixora chinensis (Chinese Ixora) and Ixora javanica, while many other popular hybrids and varieties are offered in nurseries. Another species, Ixora finlaysoniana, produces attractive, fragrant white flowers.

Ixora can be propagated from seed, soft or semi-soft cuttings. For stem cuttings, take 10- to 15-centimetre-long pieces and plant these in a pot using free-draining potting compost. Place this in partial shade and keep it lightly watered until the cuttings take root in four to six weeks.

Ixora grow best as container plants because they require slightly acidic soil to thrive. These conditions are most easily achieved away from the natural alkalinity of local sandy soils. Either way, it is important to add compost and fertiliser regularly. Care should also be taken to plant Ixora away from concrete footings or walls since these will also increase the levels of alkalinity in the soil.