Gardening: It’s an ixora kind of summer

EILEEN WARD

The ixora are in their full flowering glory right now. During the summer months the ixora is one of the most colorful flowering shrubs in our landscapes. The growth habit of the ixora is upright, compact and well branched. Texture can range from course to medium fine depending on the variety. The leaves are shiny, green and leathery. They are opposite or whorled, and oblong to 4 inches with short petioles. Stems on new growth are reddish and older bark is dark brown.

There are four varieties of ixora which are most popular with landscapers and homeowners. The growth habits differ greatly so you should know which variety you want when you buy an ixora.

Singapore and Maui have a similar habit of growth. Singapore has a yellow flower while Maui is red. This ixora is used for hedges as it is well adapted to shearing. They prefer a sunny exposure with well drained, moist soil conditions. Its size will range from 3 to 6 feet.

The King ixora is a larger variety used in mixed shrub groupings as an eye catching color specimen plant. It loses its impact when used in a mass or hedge form. Its texture is courser than the Maui and its size is 5 to 10 feet.

The Dwarf Red ixora is the smallest variety averaging 1 to 3 feet with a very slow habit of growth. This is a compact variety with tiny leaves. It is also well adapted to shearing and is a good choice for a low border in front of taller shrubs.

The Nora Grant ixora is probably the most popular variety in today’s landscapes. Nora Grant is a large variety like the King ixora. The leaves and flowers are larger giving it a course texture. It will average 5 to 10 feet. This ixora should be planted where it will not require constant shearing as the flowering will be greatly reduced by this.

Pest problems for the ixora include nematodes, aphids and scale.

Ixoras are also susceptible to diseases of the stem and root. Symptoms of this problem include yellowing leaves, splitting stems and general decline of the shrub. Especially affected are the Dwarf and Nora Grant varieties. Removal of the split, diseased wood by pruning back to healthy wood and treatment with a systemic fungicide will usually bring the disease under control. Nutritional deficiency, especially iron, will exacerbate this problem. Ixoras like a slightly acid and fertile soil. Fertilize twice during the growing season using an 8-2-8 with minor elements. Sequestran iron works especially well for the acid loving ixora.

Eileen Ward and her husband Peter have owned and operated Greensward of Marco, Inc., a lawn maintenance and landscaping company since 1981. Watch Eileen’s gardening videos on MarcoIsland-TV.com. Eileen is an FNGLA Certified Horticultural Professional, has a Commercial Pesticide license in Natural Areas Management and is a registered Dealer in Agricultural products in Florida.

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