Ixora X coccinea: Flame-of-the-woods

Though this shrub is no novelty to nurserymen, who have been acquainted with it for many years, it is only in the past few decades that it has become more widespread in cultivation. This is undoubtedly due, among other things, to the fact that it is a plant with good prospects for it can be grown successfully even in centrally-heated homes.

The main area of distribution of this genus, which contains 150 species according to some authorities and as many as 400 according to others, is tropical Asia, but it is also found in the tropical regions of the other continents.

Ixora coccinea, the only one grown as a ‘pure’ species (not crossed) and one which has yielded many valuable hybrids, is native to India. The flower clusters are almost 10 cm (4 in) across and coloured a glowing red. In the wild ixoras often grow at the edges of forests where they are only lightly shaded by trees, or they may also grow singly, in full sun. They require a deep soil rich in humus formed by decaying leaves on a laterite substrate. In the places where they grow the conditions are relatively moist and warm the whole year; the dry season begins late in the autumn and lasts barely 3 or 4 months.

More often found in cultivation, however, are the hybrids such as ‘Fraseri’, scarlet; ‘Savoi’, salmon-orange; ‘Shawi’, with huge flowers, likewise salmon-orange; and ‘Bier’s Glory’, deep orange.

The cultivars have more or less the same requirements as I. coccinea. In the home they should be put in a warm, well-lit spot only slightly sheltered against the sun and older shrubs should be given a brief period of rest after the flowers have faded, with limited watering and slightly cooler conditions (airing the room will suffice). The soil should be humusy — John Innes potting compost with extra peat added would be suitable. Propagation, by means of cuttings in a warm propagator at any time of the year, is easy.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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