An Ixora is an out-of-the-ordinary houseplant, but a well-grown specimen attracts attention. Ixora plants are small shrubs that grow in subtropical regions. These plants feature large clusters of red, yellow, white or orange flowers that emerge like puffballs from the evergreen leaves in the summer. Although they are relatively easy to grow outdoors, keeping an Ixora happy and blooming inside is a challenge even for an experienced gardener.
Ixora Growing Conditions
- Light. Ixora plants like bright light but keep them away from direct sunlight in summer.
- Water. Keep the soil continuously moist, but reduce watering in the winter. Supply an environment with very high humidity.
- Temperature. Keep the temperature above 60 F even in winter. Try to avoid cold drafts if the temperature drops lower. This plant is often grown as an annual in temperate and cool climates.
- Soil. These acid-loving plants thrive in rich, moist, peat-based soil.
- Fertilizer. Feed in spring with slow-release pellets or weekly during the growing season with liquid fertilizer.
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. Clean the pulp off the seed and soak it overnight. Fill a 2-inch pot with good seed starter mix. Plant the seed, water it and fasten a plastic bag over the pot. Place it in a warm area with moderate light. Move it to bright light as soon as the seed germinates.
Pruning an Ixora
Prune the Ixora plant after it blooms and whenever the plant looks untidy. Ixora tolerates pruning and can be trimmed by several inches. You can prune each shoot down to only one bud. Flowers bloom on new growth, so pruning to encourage new growth increases the blooms on the plant.
There are more than 400 species of Ixora worldwide, but Ixora coccinea is the only one that is commonly grown. In subtropical regions, Ixora plants are used as a common hedge material and only occasionally appear in garden centers in temperate areas.
Ixora plants need protection from aphids and scales. Apply an insecticidal soap spray to control both pests. If the leaves develop dark spots, the plant may be missing two primary micronutrients: iron and manganese. This is a common problem with acid-loving plants in soils with high pH levels. 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.
Ixora is a fussy, temperamental houseplant. Even slight exposure to cold or moving the plant can cause it drop its leaves. Additionally, they need good airflow to avoid black sooty mold, which dulls their shiny leaves and eventually affects the plant's growth. Ideally, these are greenhouse or conservatory plants, where their blooms are a definite conversation piece. Beware of aggressively trimming Ixora. The best Ixora are allowed to grow slightly wild, so they reward their owners with a profusion of blooms.