Nemantanthus - spectacular beauties with goldfish
Received the popular nickname of “lingonberry” or “goldfish” nematanthus is one of the most spectacular indoor crops with beautiful flowering. The plants developing in the form of compact bushes or ampels equally conquer with dense shiny leaves of a dark color, and flowers, the unusual shape of which really resembles goldfish. Despite the growing popularity, these plants remain full-fledged indoor exotics. And the point is not only that the bright appearance of the nematanthus sets it apart from tropical competitors. Growing them is not at all difficult, but they require very careful, thorough care.
Flawless greens and outlandish flowering of nematanthus
With name nematanthus (nematanthus) there are many confusions. Today, plants formerly known under the name are included in the same genus as the native species of South American cultures belonging to the nematantus hypocytes (hypocyrta) Despite the fact that in the genus of nematanthus separate groups of plants are still distinguished according to the structural features of flowers and inflorescences, all of them are surprisingly similar to each other both in growth forms and in the type and attractiveness of foliage.
On sale the name "hypocirrhoid" is still very common with us. But according to all modern botanical classifications, this plant is more appropriate to call it nematanthus. People’s nicknames, which glorify the similarity of flowers with either goldfish or lingonberry, are relevant for all plants belonging to this genus. The popular and English name is ‘Goldfish plant’.
Despite the fact that exotic flowering remains the most striking detail in the appearance of nematanthus, these plants can rightly be called cultures in which flowers, outlandish in shape, and beautiful classic fleshy leaves are equally attractive. During flowering, the nematanthus really seems like a real miracle: on the luxurious crown of dark leaves and elegant shoots, something reminiscent of noble boxwoods, original yellow or orange flowers flash.
In nature, nematanthus develop as epiphytic shrubs or full creepers. But plants adapted for growing in greenhouses and rooms are mainly shaped as shrubs. Compact elegant and dense bushes from numerous direct, rising, climbing or creeping shoots conquer a very dense, attractive crown with beautiful growth forms. All nematanthus are plants of compact size, even at a considerable age, not exceeding a height of 10-60 cm. But rather modest sizes are not a drawback, but rather a huge advantage of this culture.
Nematanthus are characterized by a unique ability to harmonize space, to favorably influence the visual perception of rooms, to create a feeling of greater spaciousness. At the same time, small forms do not allow the plant to have a negative effect on the interior, and the bright details of the appearance allow these cultures to always remain noticeable and important accents. Amazingly beautiful silhouettes and graceful forms of nematantes are best revealed in the role of solo, elegant interior decorations.
The climbing or creeping shoots of the nematanthus are able to take root in the nodes, are densely leafy, and the type of structure of the twigs and the nature of the arrangement of leaves resembles boxwood or lingonberries and blueberries. More dense, fleshy, succulent leaves are not so small in size (from 3 to 10 cm), a glossy and as if shiny surface are favorably secured by nematantes against other indoor crops. The leaves of the plant are obovate or elliptical, beautiful, with a deep middle vein. The intense dark green color contrasts spectacularly with the magenta or light back and is accentuated by a glossy sheen.
These evergreen cultures flaunt amazingly noble textures of greenery, conquer with rigor, simplicity and at the same time impeccable appearance. The spectacular dark green background for almost the entire warm season is bloomed by bizarre flowers, the shape of which outwardly makes them more like waxy fruits or unusual berries. Outlandish nematanthus flowers bloom right in the axils of the leaves. They are tubular, with a narrowed, almost completely closed pharynx, unusual dense textures and an original bulge in the lower part.
The pocket-shaped shape of the corolla with bloating in different species of nematanthus is not expressed in the same way: among them there are plants with a more modest and classical appearance, and more original and unusual. But the flowers of this plant do not leave anyone indifferent. They cause many associations with pears, cannons, animals, various berries and tropical fruits. The unusual flowering of nematanthus is only emphasized by a fiery palette of colors. Yellow, orange and orange-red alternate in soft watercolor variations, and the play of halftones and individual nuances of the color scheme makes plants even more interesting.
Species diversity of nematanthus
This plant belongs to the Gesneriev family. The genus is represented by 28 species, which are often combined according to the characteristics of flowering into separate subgroups. In room culture, 7-8 species are common.
- Nemantanthus Vetstein (Nematanthus wettsteinii) Is the most common form. Previously, it was known as hypocytes - hypocyrta dusenii and hypocyrta wettsteinii. This is a wonderful ampelous and potted culture, producing numerous climbing branches up to 90 cm long, on which small oval bright-shiny leaves flaunt. They conquer with a waxy glossy surface and a rich dark green color. Between the leaves, orange-red tubular flowers with a slight swelling, reaching about 2.5 cm in length, look like strange fruits, this nematanthus is able to bloom relentlessly from spring to mid-autumn.
- It is much less common nematanthus fritscha (Nematanthus fritschii), better known as the "goldfish", and formerly referred to as Fritsch's hypocyte (hypocyrta fritschii). This is a fairly large species with beautiful green leaves decorated with a reddish underside with a slight edge, forming bushes up to 60 cm high with bright pink, funnel-shaped, unusually curved flowers and very large leaves.
- Nemantanthus riverine (Nematanthus fluminensis) Is a wonderful climbing indoor plant with rather large, oppositely arranged leaves up to 10 cm long, with a purple back. The flowers of this species are elongated, lemon yellow, up to 5 cm in length, with a pharynx unfolded in contrast to most nematanthus and a tube pubescent on the outside.
- Nemantanthus ankle (Nematanthus longipes) - a climbing shrub with unusually light and large leaves for this genus, reaching 7-10 cm in length, almost the same long thin peduncles and single scarlet-red flowers with a strong bloating on the tube.
- Nemantanthus finely bristled (Nematanthus strigillosus), formerly known as naked hypocirrhitis (Hypocyrta glabra) and fine-bristled hypocirrhitis (hypocyrta strigillosa) - an evergreen epiphyte, limited to a height of 20-25 cm, producing ascending or straight, rarely branched shoots with oval, small and shiny leaves and blooming one by one or in bundles of up to 3 pieces of tubular flowers. The tube has a spherical swelling, a whisk with a small limb, and the color is a classic yellow-orange.
Separately, it is worth highlighting hybrid nematanthus, which, thanks to prolonged selection, have acquired an expressive, very strong smell. The rare but unique Santa Teresa variety, for example, produces few flowers that can fill even a large room with an intense aroma reminiscent of a mixture of olive oil and citrus zest. But the Tropicana nematanthus hybrid, in addition to the beauty of glossy, densely sitting leaves, offers to admire yellow-orange flowers with spectacular golden and red stripes and is more famous not for aroma, but for the beauty of flowers.
Nematanthus care at home
Nemantanthus are not at all capricious and over-demanding indoor cultures. Even their exotics status and outlandish flowering are not signs that inexperienced gardeners will not be able to grow these plants. But since this culture needs regular and very careful care, does not respond well to improper irrigation and top dressing, requires annual pruning, carelessness in growing nematanthus is unacceptable. The only difficulty associated with creating conditions comfortable for any nematantus is providing a cool wintering, which is the key to the abundant flowering of this houseplant.
In the development of nematanthus, periods of dormancy, active development and preparation for flowering are pronounced. In nature, nematanthus bloom in summer, and in room culture, the period during which bushes are decorated with strange flowers stretches for a very long time until October. After dropping the flowers, and in some species and completely dropping the leaves, the plant has a winter dormancy period, which should be accompanied by a change in temperature and care.
Lighting for hookworms
Nemantanthus can be classified as photophilous indoor plants. They love stable lighting throughout the year: in the seasons when most indoor plants suffer from a lack of light, nematanthus need to either be illuminated or moved to more brightly lit places. In winter, this culture is not afraid of even the sunniest places and southern window sills. In the active period of growth and flowering, they choose the lightest locations on the eastern and western windowsills or in the brightest places of the interior with panoramic windows - the nematanthus needs to provide stable bright diffused lighting.
Despite the fact that the density of the leaves of nematanthus in many respects resembles the most hardy succulents, this plant does not tolerate direct sunlight, suffers severely from burns when placed on the windowsills of the southern orientation without corresponding dispersion. Nemantanthus can put up with slight shading only in the hottest months of the year. Ordinary partial shade or shadow will cause a plant to bloom much more poorly or even provoke its absence. But the partial shading does not affect the beauty of the leaves.
One of the main advantages of nematanthes is the ability to grow both in bright natural light and in full artificial light. Thanks to a good reaction to artificial lighting, this culture can be used in interior decoration as you like.
The most difficult in the cultivation of nematanthus is considered the selection of comfortable temperature conditions. In this regard, plants are not much different from other flowering houseplants, in the development of which a period of almost complete rest is pronounced. The development phase, which is necessary for the plant to rest and prepare for future flowering, requires the creation of cool conditions. In winter, only the temperature range from 14 to 16 degrees of heat will be comfortable for nematanthus. Stability, constancy of temperature is no less important than their specific indicators.
If the nematantus is at a dormant stage in a warmer environment, it will bloom very poorly for a limited time period in the summer or it may not bloom at all. Usually the plant itself signals that it should be transferred to cooler conditions. After the nematanthus has dropped all the flowers, for some species of the former hypocytes - and leaves, the plants need to be pruned annually, after which they should be placed in the winter maintenance regimen.
But in the warm season and at the stage of active development, nematanthus will not require any atypical conditions. These cultures are quite comfortable in the usual "room" temperature range: from the beginning of spring to mid-autumn, they are content with any conditions not exceeding 20 degrees. These plants, as a rule, achieve the greatest decorativeness and abundant flowering at a stable temperature of 20 to 25 degrees Celsius. If the temperature drops below 20 degrees, the flowering of plants may stop.
When choosing suitable temperatures for the maintenance of nematanthus, it is necessary to remember that this exot, in spite of all its classical beauty, is very sensitive to temperature changes and fluctuations in the conditions of detention. Sudden cooling is especially dangerous for nematanthus, but heat also adversely affects the ability of plants to bloom for a long time and plentifully. This culture should be protected in every way from any drafts and sudden changes in temperature.
True, intolerance even to the slightest drafts is surprisingly combined with a nematantus with a love of fresh air in the summer, during the hottest months. Thanks to the latter characteristic, nematanthus can be placed in protected places in the open air.
Watering and humidity
If the temperature regime is the most difficult moment when creating growing conditions comfortable for the nematanthus, then maintaining the moisture of the substrate is rightly called the most difficult component in caring for the plant. It is irrigation that determines that this plant needs scrupulous, very thorough and relentless care. Nemantanthus are hygrophilous plants requiring abundant watering. But at the same time, simply conducting procedures often enough for this culture is unacceptable.
Before each watering, it is necessary to strictly control the degree of drying of the substrate, maintaining a stable soil moisture in the pots. Abundant and frequent procedures, between which only the top layer of the substrate dries out, are necessary for the plant throughout the entire active period of development. Excessive soil moisture must not be allowed, as well as its drying out even in the middle layer. After each procedure, water from pallets must be drained immediately, preventing it from standing even for standard 5 minutes.
One of the difficult moments is the need to keep plants in much drier conditions in winter compared to the period of active growth. Throughout the rest phase for this plant, it is necessary to maintain a stable, but very light substrate moisture, still preventing it from drying out completely even for several hours, but at the same time drying out not only the upper, but also the middle layer of soil in the pots between the procedures. Watering in the fall should be moderate, rare, using a minimum amount of water. At the same time, the main difficulty is the correct transition to winter maintenance.
Watering should be reduced as smoothly as possible, gradually, slowly. Despite the fact that plants should be transferred to the winter watering schedule only after the flowering period has ended, it is necessary to begin to reduce the frequency of procedures even when the nematanthus blooms.Ideally, it is necessary to reduce watering within a month, but if the transition cannot be started on time, all the same, the plants must be transferred to the new conditions for at least 2 weeks.
Nematanthus partially compensates for the moodiness for watering by a much greater lability to air humidity. For him, the most comfortable is an environment with a humidity of 50%. Nemantanthus feel good in any residential premises, with the exception of the period of extreme summer heat and the operation of central heating systems. If the air is too dry, it is advisable to increase the humidity level either by spraying or by installing simple artisanal humidifiers in the form of trays with wet pebbles or expanded clay. Spraying plants is complicated by the fact that the accumulation of moisture is undesirable not only on the flowers, but also on the leaves.
For this culture, fine sprayers must be used and sprayed high above the plant, so that even the smallest drops of moisture are dispersed even before they reach the greenery. Another feature in procedures for increasing air humidity is that for nematanthus they are never carried out during the rest period. From the moment of entering the final phase of flowering, the spraying is gradually reduced, and after the obligatory pruning is carried out, they are completely stopped. Wintering in dry air complements the changes in temperature and care, which stimulate nematanthus more abundant and longer flowering next year.
When buying nematanthus, be sure to check the air humidity it needs, because many hybrid varieties are well adapted to dry conditions and do not need any other worlds, even on the hottest days.
Water for watering and spraying this plant should also be given special attention. For nematanthus, as for most houseplants, you can use only well-defended water. But the main parameter is the temperature. For nematanthus, it is better to use slightly warm water, the temperature of which is several degrees higher than the air temperature in the room.
The fertilizer schedule for nematanthus should be fully consistent with the stages of plant development. From October to February, during the rest period, fertilizers must not be applied in any form. But in the period of active growth, especially when releasing young shoots and throughout the flowering stage, nematanthus need fairly frequent top dressing. For them, it is advisable to use the full fertilizer dose recommended by the manufacturer, introducing them with a frequency of 10 or 15 days between procedures. More often than once every 10 days, feeding this culture is not worth it.
For nematanthus, special fertilizers are most suitable for flowering crops with a high content of potassium and phosphorus.
Unlike most indoor crops with so juicy fleshy leaves, nematanthus needs annual pruning. Forming a haircut on a plant is carried out at the end of the stage of active growth, immediately after flowering and usually at the beginning of shedding of leaves in species previously known as hypocytes. Without annual pruning, nematanthus will not only lose the beauty and density of the crown, its silhouette, density, but also the character of leafyness towards a more rare arrangement of leaves. But the most important consequences always relate to flowering. Nemantanthus produce flowers on young shoots, so without pruning before the dormant stage, they will bloom very poorly or will not bloom at all.
The trimming procedure itself is extremely simple. All shoots of this plant are shortened by 1/3 of the length. For old, needing rejuvenation of nematanthus pruning is carried out at 1/2 of the length of the branches.
Transplant and substrate
Finding the right soil for this crop is not easy. For the comfortable development of a loving heavy watering during the entire active growth phase of the nematanthus, it is necessary to provide a very light, loose substrate with good air and water permeability. The optimal composition for these plants is considered to be soil mixtures for senpolia or any ready-made substrates consisting of equal shares of leafy soil, peat and coarse sand with the addition of pieces of pine bark or sphagnum.
The compact size of nematanthus is explained by fairly moderate growth rates and slow development. Nemantanthus not very actively build not only aboveground shoots, but also rhizomes. And thanks to this, they do not need a very frequent, and even more so annual transplant, even at a very young age. The optimal frequency of procedures for this plant is one transplant in 2-3 years. In this case, you always need to focus on the development of the plant itself, then, at what rate the roots fill the earthen clod.
With the timing of the transplant, everything is much easier. The substrate capacity for nematantus is changed as soon as the first signs of growth of new shoots and leaves appear, at the very beginning of spring.
The procedure itself is carried out according to the standard transshipment technique with minimal removal of only the free substrate and the upper contaminated soil layer. The plant must be handled very carefully, trying to prevent even the slightest contact with the roots, especially avoiding injuries or breaking off even peripheral roots. For nematanthus it is very important to lay a powerful and high layer of drainage, which ensures that your plant does not suffer from waterlogging.
Pay special attention to the fact that when transplanting a nematanthus, the containers cannot be increased by more than 2-3 cm. This plant has a small rhizome, for which compact, medium-sized pots are selected. A spacious container increases the risk of developing diseases and pests, poor water permeability of the soil and disturbance of stable substrate moisture. And in large containers, all nematanthus bloom very poorly.
Diseases and pests
Nemantanthus cannot boast of the status of a stable, invulnerable houseplant. The pests simply adore them, and with the slightest problems with care or the wrong choice of conditions on the beautiful crown of the bushes, you can notice traces of aphids, spider mites or scale insects. For this plant, the complexity of pest control is due to the fact that mechanical processing methods are unacceptable and it is possible to cope with problems only with the help of insecticides. Of the diseases for nematanthus, the most dangerous is rot, which spreads when the substrate is waterlogged. But this plant may also suffer from powdery mildew, which must be treated with fungicide treatment.
Common problems in growing nematanthus:
- leaves grow yellow on the bushes at low humidity, too frequent feeding;
- the appearance of spots and dry fragments on the leaves in direct sunlight, heat;
- dropping buds and leaves at too low temperatures and dampness;
- weak or absent flowering in low light, disturbances during dormancy, lack of pruning, improper selection of substrate or feeding regimen;
- the appearance of brown spots on the leaves when using too cold water and improper watering.
Propagation of plants at home is complicated by the limited methods. The seeds of nematanthus practically do not ripen and very rarely germinate, and this crop does not form daughter plants without releasing root shoots. You can not get nematantus and the method of separation of adult bushes. So the only breeding method for nematanthus is cuttings. Cuttings can be cut in the spring and throughout the summer, choosing powerful matured shoots with 4-5 internodes (both apical and stem cuttings are suitable).
For rooting, it is enough to remove the lower pairs, treat the cuttings with a growth accelerator or simply place them in water or a mixture of sand, perlite and peat in equal parts. For rooting, it is important to create greenhouse conditions with high humidity and a temperature of at least 25 degrees. Favorably affects the rooting process, frequent spraying and ventilation of the “caps”.
Cuttings of nematanthus after rooting are best planted 3-4 plants in one small pot. A few weeks after planting in ordinary soil, young nematanthus should begin to form, pinching the tops of the shoots to create a beautiful bush-like shape.
If you manage to get purchased, well-ripened seeds, then they can be sprouted in a carefully sifted and leveled substrate, without covering the top with soil and providing a stable level of moisture. Crops are covered with glass, placed in a warm room in the brightest place. After emergence of seedlings for plants, lower watering is carried out and they are grown until the seedlings produce the first pair of true leaves. As with cuttings, plants obtained from the seeds of nematanthus are planted several in a single container.