Astroloba, or Apicra - exotic succulent
Exotic plants are attracted by their extraordinary appearance, which, most often, is combined also with a capricious character. Along with tropical stars, plants with completely different habits are found in the ranks of exotics. One of the most original plants, which has just begun to attract the admiring glances of lovers - the astrolobe, or Apikra. Spiral leaves located on the shoots, causing associations with stars, patterns of twigs immediately attract attention. Fleshy greens directly indicates that the astrolobe belongs to succulents. How to care for astroloba, we will tell in the article.
- What does an astrolobe or apikra look like?
- Types of Astrolob
- Conditions for growing indoor astrolobes
- Caring for an astrolob at home
- Diseases, pests and growing problems
- Reproduction of indoor astrolobes
What does an astrolobe or apikra look like?
Astrolobes represent a small but vibrant "Australian" Xanthorrhoeaceae family. True, the most popular and brightest species of all astrolobes - the endemic - is not from Australia at all, but from South Africa, growing within the territory of the Cape Province of South Africa.
Astrolobes are original evergreen long-lived succulents. They develop slowly and maintain good decorativeness, are one of the most stable succulents in terms of external attractiveness.
Old shoots gradually lose their attractiveness due to dropping of the lower leaves, but it’s easy to keep the astrolobe “in shape” with a proper wintering. This is a leafy plant that attracts attention with a pattern of strikingly beautiful leaves that store water.
The leaves are arranged on a shortened stem in a spiral, creating a patterned and ornamental strict pattern of a multi-tiered rosette. The height of the astroloba is limited to a maximum of 30 cm. The dense arrangement of leaves leads to the fact that the shoots of the plant look like artificial, and at the tops of the shoots a pattern of leaves forms complex stars.
The leaves themselves are simple and attractive. Saturated dark green, thickened at the base, with a pointed, spiky triangular apex, hugging the stem, they seem to be a perfect creation of nature. Leaves form bizarre, resembling either coniferous, then brushes, then bizarre stalactites-rosettes. The texture of the leaves is unusual. Brownish, bluish plaque, pimples, warts and tubercles do not appear evenly and not always, but add charm to the plant.
Blooming astrolobes in room conditions can often be observed annually, but, in general, it is significantly inferior in terms of decorativeness of greenery. Nondescript small flowers of a dirty color in sloppy inflorescences-brushes are somewhat reminiscent of haworthia.
Types of Astrolob
Despite the fact that in the genus Astroloba there are several species that are interesting for their decorativeness, as a decorative plant it gained popularity, and even that relative, only one plant.
Astroloba spiral (Astroloba spiralis), still in many encyclopedias appearing in the lists of exotics under the old name spiral apicra (Apicra spiralis) - The most popular species in indoor culture. Sharp triangular leaves, forming a spiral multi-tiered rosette, flaunt a rich green color.
Today, in addition to the base plant, the decorative form is very popular. Pentagona (Astroloba spiralis var.pentagona) - An original plant with unusual leaves - pentagonal instead of triangular.
Conditions for growing indoor astrolobes
Astrolobes can hardly be called typical succulents. In all but love of dry air, they are able to surprise. The need for a cool wintering is the most difficult thing that the owners of this succulent have to face. But the plant also needs specific lighting.
Lighting and placement for spiral astrolobes
Despite the African origin and status of succulents, astrolobes are far from cacti and their most hardy competitors in terms of lighting requirements. These plants do not like direct sunlight and develop better in diffuse lighting.
Astrolobes cannot boast of shade tolerance, but they develop well in partial shade, although they lower lower leaves faster. Soft lighting on the windowsill or near the south window fits the plant equally well. For astrolobes, windows of eastern and western orientation are better suited. In bright light and a sunny place, the leaves turn red, the plant loses its fresh appearance, can become sluggish.
In winter, it is better to move the astrolobe to the windowsills, increasing the level of lighting. The plant does not like artificial lighting, it will not work to compensate for the lack of natural light.
Astroloba is a patterned, ornamental, bright plant that fits perfectly into the modern interior. It is better to place it in rooms alone. In the company of other succulents, even if stylish desert florariums are compiled, the astrolobe does not look as good as in a solo part. It is important for the plant to choose a pot that matches the style of interior decoration and use decorative mulch for the soil, which emphasizes the beauty and character of the plant.
Temperature and ventilation
During the period of active growth, the astrolob perfectly copes with any temperature exceeding 18 degrees of heat. For her, both ordinary room temperatures and hot conditions with indicators from +25 to + 30 ° C are suitable.
An important condition for maintaining high decorative outlets is a cool wintering. If the plant goes through a dormant period at room temperature, it will quickly lose its lower leaves, and the shoots will become unattractive, and the risk of impaired growth, extension, and pest infection will be much higher. Optimal conditions for the rest period are from +10 to + 12 ° С. It is better to limit the maximum temperature to + 15 ° C.
Caring for an astrolob at home
Like all succulents, an astrolobe requires not so complicated, but still specific care. This plant is afraid of getting wet and sloppy watering. It will easily forgive misses in leaving, but only towards drought. Improper irrigation, increased air humidity are fatal for this succulent. As well as too frequent top dressing. Astroloba is prone to lose decorativeness in uncomfortable conditions, it needs to be closely monitored.
This plant can be recommended to gardeners with at least minimal experience in growing succulents.
Watering and humidity
For an astrolobe, it is important to avoid extremes in irrigation. This plant does not tolerate too much watering, the soil should not be moist. Astrolobes are not afraid of drying out the substrate, but if the soil moisture is consistently light, the decorative leaf will be higher. Watering should be carried out as carefully as possible, so that water does not fall on the leaves and base of the stem. For an astrolobe, it is better to divide the water into several light irrigation so that the soil is not too wet even for a short period.
During a cool wintering for an astrolobe, you need to create almost dry conditions with rare watering. For this succulent, 1 watering in 2-3 weeks is enough to maintain the viability of the roots.
Astroloba is a big fan of dry air. She does not like tropical conditions, does not respond well to increased humidity. This succulent is not afraid of the proximity of heating appliances.
Fertilizing and fertilizer composition
Excess nutrients and too fertile soil lead to rapid growth and rapid loss of decorativeness. This plant needs modest, infrequent top dressing. Fertilizers for astrolobes are applied only during the period of active growth, in the spring and summer, with a frequency of 1 time in 3-4 weeks. You can simply apply fertilizer with water for irrigation 3-4 times a season.
For astroloba, you need to carefully select the composition of the fertilizer. Microfertilizers are of great importance for this plant. The optimal balance of substances is provided only by fertilizers for cacti and succulents.
Transplant, containers and substrate
An astrolobe is transplanted only when the plant itself signals the need to increase capacity. Usually a plant needs a transplant no more than 1 time in 2-3 years.
For this, succulents use light, loose and permeable substrates. Suitable as special mixtures for cacti and succulents, as well as independently composed soil. An optimal mixture of turf soil, sand, peat and humus in equal parts is considered. For astrolobes, only shallow river sand is used. It is desirable to add brick chips to the substrate.
For astrolobes, it is necessary to choose medium-sized containers. This plant normally develops, produces lateral shoots only in a fairly tight space, does not like deep and large containers.
At the bottom of the tanks for astrolobes, a high layer of large drainage is necessarily laid, guaranteeing a good outflow of water and breathability of the substrate. The plant can not be planted with deepening.
Diseases, pests and growing problems
Astrolobes in room culture are only threatened by improper care. As a result of waterlogging or inaccurate watering, roots and stems begin to rot, the plant quickly dies. At the initial stages of the spread of rot, the problem can be dealt with both by simple correction of care and by drying the substrate. At serious stages it will be difficult to save the plant, the fight must be conducted with the use of fungicides and transplantation.
Reproduction of indoor astrolobes
Getting new plants from seeds is a task that requires patience. Astroloba seedlings are far from rapidly developing, and the process of growing seedlings itself requires a careful approach to temperatures and irrigation. Seeds are sown superficially, on sand, kept under glass at a temperature of + 25 ° C and with lower heating.
It is much easier to propagate astrolobes by separating daughter plants — side shoots, which healthy plants produce in large quantities in comfortable conditions. When transplanting with a sharp knife, twigs are carefully separated and rooted in new individual pots in the same way as root cuttings, maintaining stable light humidity and heat until growth resumes.
Perhaps you are growing an astrolobe indoors, share your experience with our readers in the comments to the article.