Akalifa and her fox tails
Akalifs are relatively new indoor plants for us. In some Akalif, leaves attract more attention, in others, inflorescences cause general admiration. It is the "fox tails" of the same name Akalifa that became a symbol of the whole family. But other akalifs deserve active use in the interior. After all, these are not demanding beauties who are content with modest care, who will become a bright accent in the design of the rooms.
The best types of indoor acalif
Akalifs, who got their name due to the shape of the leaves, similar to nettles, flower growers among themselves are lovingly called cat's or fox's tails. But not all of Akalif can boast of “fur” inflorescences: along with beautifully flowering plants, this family also has a whole group of species in which the leaves are most attractive. Of course, “fox tails” are more popular, but today on the shelves you can find a huge assortment and decorative leafy acalif. The plants are united by the shape of pointed oval, different in size, but always decorated with cloves along the edge of the leaves and unusual inflorescences, which in some species reach a length of half a meter.
The most furry and truly reminiscent of the “tails” of an inflorescence are characteristic of Akalifa oak-leaved, often sold as Haitian or Spanish. In nature, this creeping groundcover, in room culture - an elegant ampelous culture, whose flexible, drooping shoots form a lace crown. Lacy, translucent and surprisingly elegant bushes up to a height of only 35 cm are surprisingly lush due to the dense branching of shoots. The leaves of this akalifa are small, up to 4 cm in length, with a typical serrated edge and very bright, giving the whole plant an elegant look. But universal admiration is caused by fluffy spikelets with a thick "fur" edge, drooping, only up to 10 cm in length and up to 3 cm in thickness.
Akalifa hispida, bristly-haired or "fox tail" attracted primarily by its inflorescences. In house culture, only female plants are used, in which velvety drooping inflorescences resemble fur lashes of a bright red-purple color. In length they reach half a meter, elegantly hang between large leaves.
A distinctive feature of the "fox tails", two beautifully flowering species of acalifa - the ability to bloom literally all year round. The plant does not pause with the right choice of growing conditions and is always decorated with luxurious inflorescences, which makes it an almost indispensable accent in the interior. Today on sale you can find snow-white forms of Alba.
Akalifa Vilkez - one of the most fashionable decorative deciduous plants. She has many forms with a variety of colors of leaves, while the wealth of silhouettes, size, and structural features are also amazing.
The flowering of Akalifa Vilkez is non-standard, and though not as beautiful as that of the “fox tail”, but also attractive: the inflorescences seem to be long strings or lashes hanging gracefully between the leaves. Akalifa Vilkez has original varieties with bent or twisted leaves, uneven spots and variegated patterns. This is an evergreen plant whose leaves reach 20 cm in length (and only slightly less in width).
Hybridized Akalifs of Godsef flaunt no less colorful, but narrower, lanceolate leaves. They are often decorated not with asymmetric spots, but with a border, copper, bronze, golden stripes, emphasizing the serrated edge of the leaves. A multi-leafed form is considered to be especially fashionable, in which the green color of the leaves changes to bright red in bright light, while such “dressing-up” does not cover the entire crown at once, but only some leaves. As a result, the plant seems to be very mottled and colorful
When purchasing any akalifa, be prepared for the fact that the plant will change its appearance and will be more collapsible, large and sloppy. The thing is that in nurseries, acalifs, especially fox tails, are most often treated with growth inhibitors, and at home they gradually restore their natural forms and by no means look like ideal bushes. But the active (and sometimes rapid) growth is not at all a minus: the Akalifs are so non-standard that they can surprise with the beauty of crowns.
Akalifa care at home
Akalifs are not at all difficult to grow plants. They are thermophilic and do not like low temperatures, they do not need to organize a cooler wintering. And plant care, albeit attentive, will not take much time and energy. But minimal care to maintain air humidity will allow you to get a houseplant, really attractive - with its inflorescences or leaves - throughout the year without interruption.
Lighting for Akalifa
All, without exception, representatives of Akalif are photophilous plants. The more they grow in more illuminated places, the more magnificent and plentifully flowering they will become. But good lighting does not mean that the Akalif should be put up near the glass on the southern windowsill. She does not like direct rays of the sun, especially midday. However, she suffers no less than a lack of light, partial shade and shadow: the plant not only blooms worse, but also stretches out, loses the beauty of the crown, and motley decorative foliage akalifs lose all the features of their color and bright spots.
Temperature for Akalifa
Akalifa completely compensates for some moodiness when choosing lighting by tolerance to room temperatures. In typical conditions of city apartments, they are quite comfortable. Akalifa should be at the same temperatures throughout the year. She does not tolerate a decrease in performance even in winter below 18 degrees. Akalifa blooms best in the temperature range from 22 to 24 degrees. But warmer conditions are suitable for her. This plant will feel good in living quarters - in this it is very similar to its owners.
Decorative foliage akalifs are somewhat more thermophilic. For example, Akalifa Vilkez does not tolerate lowering temperatures below 26 degrees. But then they can be grown as garden plants throughout the entire warm season. They do not need to be simply exposed to the open air, but they can also be planted on flower beds, in discounts, as accents, or in composition in large flower containers.
Fox Tail Watering
Akalifs love stable, but light soil moisture. Waterlogging of the substrate for this culture should not be allowed, but drought should also not be created. Adjust the frequency of watering according to the degree of drying of the substrate and select the ideal regularity of the procedures. Make sure that between the procedures the soil dries in the upper layer and partially dries in the middle depth. In winter, due to the natural reduction in the incoming light, watering should be made more economical, but it is also better to make corrections according to the state and rate of soil drying. Both in winter and in summer after watering, it is better to drain excess water from pallets.
Humidity for Akalifa
The only difficult moment in growing akalifa is maintaining the necessary high humidity of the air for the plant. In a dry “climate”, Akalifa not only loses its attractiveness, but also becomes highly vulnerable to diseases. In this case, humidity indicators of 75% must be provided with complex measures:
- Installation of humidifiers or pallets with wet moss or pebbles;
- Frequent, systematic spraying of leaves (inflorescences are not afraid of getting wet, so there will be no difficulties with the procedures).
Feeding for Akalifa
Indoor exotics from the genus Akalif do not like excess nutrients too much. But their lack, excessive depletion of the substrate is dangerous, because Akalifa blooms for a very long time, sometimes all year round, and the color of the leaves in other species requires “feeding”. Akalifs feed even in the cold season, but in moderation. Fertilizers are applied once every 1.5-2 months from October to February and once every 2 weeks in the warm season. Fertilizers must be universal, complex mineral, or meet the specifics of a particular type - for flowering and ornamental-deciduous plants, respectively.
This plant quickly loses the beauty and compactness of the bushes, is actively developing and often “falls apart”. Therefore, it is better to regularly cut the Akalifa, forming or maintaining beautiful silhouettes. The best pruning time is spring before transplanting. Shorten the longest shoots, and pinch the tops of the knocked out branches.
In addition to the formative pruning itself, you will need akalife and timely removal of fading inflorescences. The thing is that the stalks of Akalifa are already sticky, and fading flowers become a kind of magnet for rot and dust. Also, it is timely to remove dry or grafted leaves from the bushes.
Carefully monitor your plants: acaliphs in room culture, especially if they were restrained in growth, tend to degenerate, overgrow, and at the first signs of depression it is necessary to conduct a cardinal rejuvenation. Branches up to 25 cm long are left on the bushes, weak and damaged cut out, and the tops of the shoots are used for cuttings. Recovery will require patience: the mother plant will initially not show signs of growth for a long time, but then it will quickly and actively start planting.
Transplant frequency: only when necessary, after the soil is completely filled with roots.
Transplant time: spring, at the very beginning of active growth.
Substrate: light, air- and water-permeable (the best mixture of equal parts of peat, leaf, soddy soil and sand).
Akalifa breeding methods
1. Apical semi-lignified cuttings, which can be collected during spring pruning from flowering plants and throughout the year from decorative leafy plants. For rooting, greenhouse conditions with lower heating and a temperature of at least 22 degrees are necessary. Young plants must be pinched a month after rooting, removing buds on the top of the shoots, and they will gradually adapt to bright light.
2. Seeds that are sown at the beginning of spring in the substrate from the soil and sand in equal parts. At an air temperature of 20 cm or less under the hood, they germinate quite well. For seedlings, Akalifs are looked after in the same way as for ordinary seedlings.
3. By air layering, when wrapping the shoot with wet moss in September and separating young Akalif in early spring.
Pests and diseases of Akalifa
- scale shield;
- spider mite;
- leaf spotting.
Possible problems in the development of akalifa caused by improper care
- leaf fall in extremely dry air;
- leaf wilting due to improper watering or in a too dense substrate;
- loss of color in poor lighting;
- drying of the tips of the leaves with insufficient watering or low humidity;
- dark spots on leaves at low temperatures.