MANY COMMON TROPICAL PLANTS are used in containers on porches and patios every summer. Sometimes you just want something different, and the Ixora coccinea, popularly known as Flame of the Woods or jungle geranium, is the perfect solution.
THIS COMMON HOUSEPLANT, hardy only in USDA Zones 9-11, is becoming more widely available in larger sizes, making it a good choice for a patio or deck planter. It can be overwintered inside in a sunny window until warm weather returns.
THE LEAVES ARE SIMPLE, oval, medium to dark green, and glossy, making it an attractive plant even when not in flower. A small tropical plant in comparison to some, ixora grows only 3 to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide when grown outside of its native environment in a container.
THE FLOWERS ARE BORNE in flat-topped clusters and can be red, pink, orange, or yellow. Ixora blooms all summer and sporadically in the fall. Because of the quantity of flowers typically present, and their shape and bloom time, ixora is an excellent nectar source for attracting butterflies to the garden. For best flowering, a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight is needed, but it also grows well in partial sun.
IXORA PREFERS AN ACIDIC, MOIST SOIL, which is easily accomplished with potting media when grown as a container plant. Ixora is known to be slightly drought-tolerant, but it does require regular watering to keep it looking good all season.
Shelly nold is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.
ASK THE GARDENER
by: Angie McManus
I planted lilacs three years ago and they have grown tall, spreading out wide, shooting out more stems. They look very healthy but have no flowers. What can I do to start them blooming?
There are a few possible reasons your shrubs are not blooming. Lilacs do not bloom as young plants; it can take at least three years before they produce their first flowers. Depending on the age and size of the plants you purchased, this may be the case.
If you planted them bare-root, it could be even longer before you see any flowers. It is essential for these shrubs to be planted in full sun. They will not bloom well if they do not receive at least six hours of direct light a day. If this is not the case for your shrubs, you should consider moving them to a sunnier location.
Overfeeding lilacs can also cause them to not bloom. If you are fertilizing your shrubs, be sure to follow recommended rate applications for the product you are using. I assume you have not pruned your lilacs; pruning too late in the summer can remove flower buds for the following season.
I suspect your shrubs are just too young to bloom. It sounds like they are healthy otherwise, so just be patient. Your lilacs will be worth the wait.
HAVE A GARDENING QUESTION?