Ixora is an unusual houseplant and one that attracts attention the moment someone sets foot in your house. Native to Asia, ixora plants are actually small shrubs that grow in subtropical regions, making them unsuitable for outdoor growth in much of the country. Started and grown year-round indoors, ixora plants feature large clusters of red, yellow, white, or orange flowers that emerge like puffballs from the evergreen leaves continuously throughout the year.
Although they are relatively easy to grow outdoors under the right conditions, keeping an ixora plant happy and blooming inside can be a challenge even for an experienced gardener. In either location, the plant will grow slowly, so patience is key if you're hoping for an oversized shrub.
|Botanical Name||Ixora coccinea|
|Common Name||Ixora, flame of the woods, iron tree, jungle flame, West Indian jasmine|
|Plant Type||Broadleaf evergreen|
|Mature Size||4-6 ft. tall, 3-5 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained|
|Flower Color||Red, pink, orange|
|Hardiness Zones||9-11 (USDA)|
As beautiful as they are, ixora plants are fussy, temperamental houseplants. Even slight exposure to a cold draft or switching up the plant's location in your home can cause it to drop leaves. Additionally, ixora plants need good airflow to avoid black sooty mold, which can dull their shiny leaves and eventually affect the plant's growth.
Ideally, ixora are greenhouse or conservatory plants, where their flowers will bloom abundantly. Still, if you maintain the conditions below, you have a good chance of having a happy ixora shrub with at least a few flowers.
Ixora plants like bright light, so put them somewhere in your home where they can get at least eight to 10 hours of sunlight a day. A word of warning: Keep them away from harsh direct rays in the summer, which can dry out and burn the leaves if you're not careful.
For the most healthy ixora plant possible, plant it in a soil mixture that is rich in organic matter and peat-based. Additionally, ixora plants love soil that has a slightly acidic pH level, ranging between 5.5 to 6.5. Soil mixtures that have a pH level above 7.0 can cause the plant to have dull foliage color.
True to their tropical nature, ixora plants love being kept consistently moist. Water them often—the specific amount will depend on the specific environment in your home. A good rule of thumb is that the soil should never be allowed to dry out, though you can decrease your watering cadence a bit in the winter.
Temperature and Humidity
A warm, moist environment is key for a thriving ixora plant. Temperatures should be kept above 60 degrees Fahrenheit at all times (even in winter), and you should avoid placing your plant anywhere in your home that has a cold draft, like by a nearby window or air conditioner.
Additionally, ixora plants love humidity. Try keeping your plant in a traditionally humid room of your home, like your kitchen or bathroom. You can also spritz the plant daily with water to increase humidity, or invest in a small space humidifier to put near your ixora plant and any other tropicals you may have.
Feed your ixora plant in the spring with slow-release fertilizer pellets, or weekly during its growing season with a liquid fertilizer. Proper nutrition will help boost the chances of your plant flowering.
Prune your ixora plant after it blooms, and whenever the plant looks untidy. Ixora plants tolerate pruning well and can be trimmed by several inches—you can cut each shoot down to only one bud. Flowers bloom on new growth, so pruning is a great way to increase the blooms on your plant.
To propagate your ixora plant, take cuttings in the spring. Rooting ixora is difficult, and you might need rooting hormone and bottom heat for success. Occasionally, the flowers produce dark purple berries with seeds that are sometimes viable. If you spot any of these, clean the pulp off the seed, then soak it overnight. Fill a 2-inch pot with seed starter mix and plant the seed, watering it well and fastening a plastic bag over the pot. Place the plant in a warm area with moderate light, moving it into bright light and removing the bag as soon as the seed germinates.
Common Pests and Diseases
Ixora plants primarily need protection from aphids and scale. If you spot signs of either issue, apply an insecticidal soap spray or neem oil to control the pests. If you notice your plant's leaves developing dark spots, it may mean the plant is missing two primary micronutrients, iron and manganese. This is a common problem with acid-loving plants—treat the dark spots with a chelated micronutrient foliar spray applied directly to the leaves. Young leaves are better able to absorb the spray than old leaves, so they are more responsive to the treatment.