Codonanthe - Gesneriaceae - How to care for and cultivate plants
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HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
The Codonanthe they are epiphytic evergreens, native to central-southern America, particularly suitable for being raised in hanging baskets thanks to their prostrate bearing.
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
The genre Codonanthe of the family of Gesneriaceae it includes a few evergreen, epiphytic plant species, native to the entire neotropical belt (central and southern America) and in particular to south-eastern Brazil.
They are plants that have thin stems, up to 2 m long, with little branching and that do not exceed a height of 50 cm. As they grow they assume a prostrate behavior and the stems tend to lignify with age.
The leaves are oval, carried by a short petiole, of an intense green color, slightly fleshy (not in all species) and waxy, arranged alternately along the stems.
The Codonanthe produce numerous small trumpet-shaped flowers of white, pink, lilac, yellow or purplish color depending on the species and variety, often with reddish lines or spots. Fruits are berries that turn red or orange as they ripen and are very persistent giving in this to the plant a very particular decorative effect.
Given their drooping appearance, they are particularly suitable for being raised in hanging baskets.
There are more than twenty species in the genus Codonanthand among which we remember:
There Codonanthe fleshy it can have a climbing or prostrate habit and is characterized by thin and long stems up to 50 cm.
The leaves are small, oval, arranged alternately along the stem, fleshy and covered with a thin layer of wax.
There Codonanthe crassifolia it is characterized by drooping stems which tend to lignify over time. The leaves are leathery and succulent and produces small white flowers with a reddish central part.
The Codonanthe they are easy to cultivate plants and do not require special precautions.
They need good lighting but not direct sunlight.
Temperatures must not drop below 5 ° C so in areas where temperatures drop below these values they must be raised in pots to be sheltered during the adverse season.
The Codonanthe throughout the spring-summer period they should be watered regularly, letting the soil dry on the surface between one irrigation and another. During the other periods watering should be reduced.
Being plants native to tropical forests, they need a humid environment, especially during the summer. For this reason it is advisable to spray the leaves often in order to maintain a humid microclimate around the plant.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
A good substrate for Codonanthe it could be formed by a good fertile soil mixed with bark, perlite and pumice to favor not only the rapid drainage of the irrigation water but also a good aeration of the soil in consideration of the fact that they are epiphytic plants.
Do not use very large pots for these plants but only slightly larger than the previous one when repotting as they do not develop a large root system.
Throughout the spring - summer period it is advisable to give the Codonanthedel liquid fertilizer diluted in the watering water every two weeks, halving the doses compared to what is reported in the fertilizer package as they are always excessive.
It is preferable to use complete fertilizers that is to say that we have macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
The Codonanthe generally they are not pruned. At most, the branches can be shortened if the plant tends to grow excessively, this in spring.
They bloom throughout the spring - summer period.
The multiplication of Codonanthe it can take place by cutting, by seed or by simple division of the plant.
MULTIPLICATION FOR TALEA
At the beginning of summer, cuttings not yet lignified, about 10-15 cm long and with at least three leaves can be taken by cutting them immediately under a knot so that some leaves remain and eliminating the lower ones. this allows to have a greater surface for rooting and avoids the accumulation of water on this surface.
Use a razor blade or a sharp knife to avoid fraying of the tissues and take care that they are clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.
After removing the lower leaves, they settle into a compote formed of peat and sand in equal parts.
The soil is always slightly moist until rooting.
Once the first shoots start to appear, it means that the cutting has taken root, at which point the cuttings are expected to harden. When they are large enough, they are transplanted into the final pot and treated like adult plants.MULTIPLICATION BY DIVISION OF THE PLANT
Another way to multiply the plant is to divide the roots with the relative stems at the time of repotting. With the help of a sharp, clean and disinfected knife, the plant is divided into two or more portions depending on its size and then individual portions are repotted as if they were single adult plants.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
The flower buds fall for no apparent reason
The causes of a sudden fall of the flower buds can be different: sudden changes in temperature, excessive watering or lack of watering.
Remedies: analyze how you have grown the plant up to that point and adjust accordingly.
Presence of small mobile insects on the plant
If you notice small white-yellowish-greenish mobile insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice.
Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products that enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during the nutrition of insects.
Leaves that begin to turn yellow, appear mottled with yellow and brown
If the leaves begin to turn yellow and after these manifestations they are crumpled, most likely in the presence of an attack of red spider, a very annoying mite. Observing carefully you also notice some thin cobwebs especially on the lower page of the leaves.
Remedies: increase the humidity around the plant as a dry environment favors their proliferation. In case of severe infestation use a specific acaricide.If the plant is not particularly large, you can also try cleaning the leaves to mechanically eliminate the parasite using a wet and soapy cotton ball. After that the plant must be rinsed very well to eliminate all the soap.
The name of the genuscodonanthe comes from the Greek kodon «Bell» e anthe "flower »in reference to the bell-shaped shape of the flowers.
A curiosity is that the Codonanthe crassifolia enters into mutualistic symbiosis with the ants of the species Crematogaster longispina. In fact in CostaRica, in the rainforest, it has been observed that the anthills are built around these plants because on the one hand the ants feed on the floral nectar, the berries produced by the plants and the seeds, also bringing the latter into strategic points (areas of future anthills) to grow other plants; on the other hand, the plants grow in particularly fertile soils because they are rich in ant debris. It has been observed that plants "cared for" by ants have a much higher growth rate than plants that grow independently.