Akalifa: planting and care at home
What kind of plants are not now bred by flower growers. They amaze with the color and shape of the leaves, as well as the beauty of the flowers. But one of the most amazing indoor plants is the akalifa. This pretty shrub is divided into two types. One has funny inflorescences similar to fox tails. And the other - with leaves of incredible color. Each species is good in its own way. Home-grown akalifa fox tails fluff up for six months in a row. And plants with decorative variegated foliage grow very quickly. So, with proper care, the akalif will cope with the gardening of a spacious room alone.
Akalifa: foxtail and copperleaf
Akalifa, like most of our houseplants, is native to the tropics. In the South American, Asian and Australian rainforests, you can see the wild relative of the domestic akalifa. It is a shrub with beautiful foliage and bright catkins-inflorescences and a height of about 2-3 meters.
In the forest, akalifa grows up to 3 meters
Scientists have described over 400 plant species. But flower growers have tamed only a few of them. Among the most common in indoor floriculture are bristly haired akalifs and Wilks. The first was nicknamed the foxtail by flower growers and is valued for its fluffy inflorescences. The second is bred for carved reddish foliage, so sometimes the name is copper-leaved akalif.
For these fluffy inflorescences, aqualiva is called foxtail.
At home, Akalifa rarely grows above one and a half meters. Both varieties have large leaves with a serrated edge. They are very similar to the foliage of nettles. Thanks to this, the name of the plant appeared - akalifa, in ancient Greek the word means nettle.
The bristly-haired variety has rich, but unremarkable foliage - just green. And the inflorescences are original. Bright, long (up to half a meter) drooping spikelets of red-red or white color. They really look like chanterelle tails, the same fluffy. Tailed flowers bloom for a long time, almost six months.
Variegated varieties of akalifa look very decorative.
Varieties of akalifa with variegated foliage flowers will not please. Their inflorescences are small and inconspicuous. The beauty of these plants is in the color of large (about 13 cm long) leaves. They can be copper-red, green with a white border, or red-orange-bronze.
Akalifa: Beautiful leaves and nondescript inflorescences
Akalifa, according to feng shui masters, is a very harmonious plant. Her fluffy inflorescences-tails combine female and male energies - yin and yang. This means that in the house where the Akalifa grows up, women will be more adventurous, and men will be gentle. Fluffy foxtail owners can use a rational and intuitive approach to problem solving equally well.
Florists who are attracted by the original Akalifa need to know that this flower is not the easiest one to live together. Lysokhvost has a negative attitude to the air of apartments that is overdried by heating. Due to the dry air, an evergreen by nature akalifa can lose its beautiful foliage. High humidity and bright lighting are vital for a tropical plant. But it is not so difficult to arrange the tropics at home, there would be a desire.
Akalifa feels very well in a winter garden or greenhouse
When considering whether to start a foxtail or not, consider one more point. Akalifa is not so "white and fluffy", she is poisonous. The plant will not do any harm if you do not try to taste it. The poison is completely harmless to the breath and skin. And if swallowed, it can cause poisoning. Therefore, Akalif is not recommended to grow in houses where there are small children and pets. And when caring for the plant, be sure to follow safety measures: wear protective gloves, and then wash your hands well.
Some representatives of the Akalif family
Akalifa belongs to the Molochaev family. The genus is divided into two species groups. The first is distinguished by hanging bright inflorescences-tails and ordinary green leaves. The most famous representatives of this group are bristly-haired and oak-leaved akalifs.
- Akalifa bristly-haired - a powerful shrub, comes from Polynesia. Wild plants grow to about three meters. At home - no more than one and a half. The green leaves are large, slightly pubescent, the edge is serrated. Flowers with bristle petals are collected in long (40-50 cm) drooping spikelets of red or burgundy color.
- The bristly haired akalifa has the alba variety, it has white and fluffy inflorescences.
- Akalifa is oak-leaved, she is Haitian or ampelous, originally from South America. This is a plant with drooping, spreading shoots. The leaves are small (4 cm), light green in color, sometimes with a lighter border. Inflorescences-spikelets are not longer than 10 cm. They are pubescent, saturated red. Akalifa oak-leaved is grown in the form of a ground cover and ampelous plant.
- Akalifa Vigincy, originally from the Galapagos Islands. Now this species is on the verge of extinction. Scientists believe that it is time to save this Akalifa immediately.
- Akalifa southern is an annual with a thin stem and an inflorescence spikelet, growing in Asia, America and Japan. The plant is very similar to nettle, does not represent decorative value. It is not cultivated, but destroyed like a weed.
The second group of akalif is decorative-leaved plants. They do not have such beautiful flowers (reddish and rare inflorescences, no more than 8 cm long), but the leaves are of an amazing color, combining brown and copper shades.
- Akalifa Wilksa is a one and a half meter shrub that grows in nature on the Pacific islands. Among the cultural forms there are miniature ones. The leaves of this species are shaped like an egg, and the color is semi-precious stones. The color ranges from bronze-green to copper-red. There are plants with spotted leaves.
- Wilks' Akalifa variety - Mosaic. The plant has wider leaves. The whimsical color combines orange, red and green.
- Akalifa Wilksa is a Ceylon variety with bronze-copper leaves with green leaves.
- Akalifu Godsef is considered to be a hybrid. It can be seen in the wild on the islands of New Guinea. Long and narrow leaves are bronze in color, in bright light they become red-copper. There are plants with foliage decorated with a white or pink border.
Photo of flower species: bristly-haired, Wilkes, southern, ampelous and others
Conditions for a tropical plant
Akalifa is a native of the tropics. And as a tropical plant, it respects warmth and an abundance of light, only without the hot sun. Only with sufficient light will the bright foliage of akalifa show all its beauty. But the most important thing for this flower is moisture. Akalifa is ready to live "breathing mists". If the air is dry, it will not bloom fluffy and will get rid of the leaves.
Table: Breeding rules at home
|Spring||Bright, diffused. The best location for akalifa is the western, eastern windows. A southern direction is fine too, but you have to protect it from the midday sun.||Increased, 70% or more. Spray the leaves and stems, as well as the air around the plant as often as possible. Place the pot in a tray with wet pebbles, humidify the air in other ways.||The plant loves warmth. Slightly higher than moderate, 20–25.|
|Summer||Bright, no direct sun.|
|Fall||High. Do not place the plant next to heating appliances. Humidify the air in any way you can.|
|Winter||Intense, artificial lighting may be required. With a lack of light, variegated forms lose their color.||Does not tolerate cold. Optimal 180 ... The temperature should not drop below 15 degrees.|
How to help a houseplant breathe
Maintaining a high level of air humidity takes some effort. Especially in autumn and winter. Heating makes the home climate a dry desert.
Akalifa likes high humidity
Tropical plants do not tolerate this. Help them breathe, try to create a semblance of the tropics in your home. By the way, humid air is good for human health.
- Place the Akalifa where the air is most humid initially. For example, it is always damp in a kitchen or bathroom. Akalifa will feel great in these rooms, of course, if the bathroom has a window.
- Spray the plant with the finest spray bottle possible. Use only warm water. In winter, do the procedure in the morning so that the leaves dry out by evening. In summer, do not spray at noon to avoid scalding.
- Place the Akalifa next to the same moisture-loving plants. Water treatments will be easier to carry out, and the humidity will last longer.
- Place the akalifa pot on a pallet of gravel or expanded clay. Moisten the stones constantly.
- Keep akalifa in a double pot. Place the container with the plant in a waterproof planter filled with chopped moss or peat. Keep them moist at all times. Excess moisture from the second pot, when evaporated, will provide air humidity around the akalifa.
Video: Akalifa in the subtropics
How to transplant a fox tail
Young akalifs need a transplant every year, in the spring. Adults about once every 3-4 years. Sometimes, when the plant is too large, it is not transplanted at all, but only the topsoil in the pot is renewed.
Akalife soil needs light, porous. It must conduct moisture and air well. Here are the approximate formulations:
- one part of sod, leafy land, peat and sand;
- humus, sand, turf and peat - all in equal parts;
- 4 turf, 1 part leaf and, 2 parts greenhouse land and sand in a ratio of 4: 1: 2: 0.5;
- equal parts peat, leaf soil and sand;
- ready-made soil for begonias or roses.
Akalifa is often grown in hanging pots.
The Akalif's pot will prefer a fairly roomy one. It grows rapidly, and the root system grows almost as quickly. If you grow ampelous akalifa, purchase a hanging planter. And don't forget to make the drain holes. The moisture-loving Akalifa does not tolerate stagnation of water at the roots. How to transplant a fox tail?
- Prepare and decontaminate the pot, soil and drainage (expanded clay, fine gravel, gravel, crumbled brick or foam).
- Fill the pot with a drainage layer, about 2–3 cm high.
- Wear protective gloves (Akalifa juice is poisonous).
- Carefully remove the plant from the old container, keeping the earthen lump.
- Inspect the roots, if you find damage, remove these pieces.
- Place the earth ball in the center of the new pot. Gently fill in the new soil by gently shaking the pot and tamping down the soil. So the soil will fill the entire volume, leaving no voids.
- Water the plant, put it in a permanent place, spray. The transplant is stressful, and the humid air helps the Akalife to adapt.
The best care for a houseplant is to create conditions close to natural. Akalifa, born in the tropics, has adapted to the peculiarities of this climate. She remembers that tropical rain pours in a stream, and then the moisture begins to actively evaporate. Therefore, the Akalifa, who has moved to our latitudes, is so demanding on moisture and watering.
Water and food for Akalifa
Without an abundant watering hole, the Akalifa will not be able to grow rich greenery and fluff up his fox tails. As soon as the plant wakes up after winter sleep, increase the volume and frequency of watering. The soil in the pot should be constantly moist, just do not make a mud bath out of it. Lack of moisture is bad for Akalifa, but too much moisture can cause illness, especially if the air is cool. Watering requires soft and lukewarm water. The gentle daughter of the tropics cannot stand the cooling of an earthen coma. And an important addition: Akalifa loves very much to loosen the soil after watering.
The closer to winter, the less often and more modestly Akalifa is watered. Winter watering should be such that the soil does not dry out. The plant has stopped growing, and it can take the necessary moisture from the air. In winter, pay special attention to humidifying the atmosphere around the flower.
During the period of growth and flowering (from March to October), the Akalifa will be grateful if it is fed. The fertilized plant will dress up with beautiful foliage and acquire bright inflorescences. Apply top dressing every two weeks, it is better to alternate mineral and organic fertilizers. Complexes (for example, Agricola) are suitable for flowering plants, if your pet belongs to the foxtail species, or feeding for decorative foliage plants, if you have a variegated specimen.
Akalifa is good at foliar feeding. When spraying the plant, add biostimulants to the water, for example, Epin, Zircon or Silk.
In winter, when the fox tails have already faded and new foliage is not growing, there is no need to feed the Akalif.
Akalifa, which is properly looked after, blooms for a long time, at least six months. The older the plant, the longer the inflorescences-tails stretch. In adult specimens, they can grow up to half a meter. Each inflorescence lives for two weeks or longer.
Akalifa blooms willingly
Florists almost never complain that Akalifa refuses to bloom. On the contrary, it is called "unrestrained flower" and they write that sometimes it fluffs up so actively that it forgets to build up greens.
Fading, reddish-red tails acquire a brownish tint. This means it's time to remove the inflorescence. Prune brown tails without mercy, so you save the plant's strength for the formation of new flowers.
Formation of akalifa
More often, flower growers discuss how to preserve the decorative appearance of akalifa. It is growing too rapidly.
The recommendations are simple: in young plants, you need to pinch the top of the shoots so that the lateral buds develop. And adult akalifs should be cut off annually. Pruning is done before seasonal growth, in February. Experienced flower growers recommend not to spare the Akalif, but to cut off the stems, leaving 20-30 cm from the ground. Such a haircut is both a hygienic and a rejuvenating procedure. But the akalifa does not always understand its importance and begins to mope. To improve the mood and tone of the plant, spray it and cover it with foil. Such a mini-greenhouse will help the Akalife get used to the new shape and give an impetus to development.
When not wearing an Akalifa, do not forget about safety measures: wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards.
From late autumn to March, the Akalifa has a rest. Watering is reduced, and top dressing is canceled. But you can't do without careful care. While the Akalifa is resting, you will have to work a little.
As the owners of the plant note, this period is the most difficult for a flower. The dry air of the apartments literally kills him. Although with proper care, this time can be survived without loss. How to make your home climate more humid, read the chapter "How to help akalifa breathe?".
Table: Maintenance errors
|Manifestation||Cause||What to do|
|Akalifa leaves wither, hang.||1. The earth lump is overdried or waterlogged. 2. Excessively heavy ground||1. Observe the watering regime. The soil should not dry out, but also not be a swamp. 2. Replace all the soil with a lighter one, or at least the top layer.|
|Leaves become discolored, become pale.||Lack of light.||Provide bright lighting. In winter or early spring, artificial lighting is required.|
|The tips of the leaves dry up and turn brown.||Dry air, lack of watering.||Moisten the air in all ways, adjust the watering.|
|Dark spots on the leaves.||Hypothermia of an earthen coma or exposure to drafts.||Water the plant with lukewarm water only. Protect from temperature extremes.|
Akalifa rarely gets sick, and she is not very touched by pests. As a rule, diseases and parasites are the result of improper care. For example, dry and warm air can contribute to the reproduction of a spider mite, and it is an enemy of a foxtail. Akalifa can be harmed by:
- spider mite,
In case of minor damage to pests, it is enough to remove it manually, and then treat the flower with soapy water. But if there are a lot of insects, you will have to use chemicals.
Table: Pests threatening akalif
|What does it look like?||What kind of pest?||How to fight?||Prophylaxis|
|The leaf is covered with yellowish spots, sometimes with a strong lesion, a white spider web is noticeable.||The spider mite is an insect that is almost invisible to the eye, sucking juice from the leaves.||For destruction, you can use infusion of tobacco. If the defeat is strong, spray with a systemic insecticide (Fitoverm, Aktara), prepare the solution according to the instructions.||Spider mites cannot tolerate high humidity. Spray the plant more often, humidify the air.|
|The leaves turn yellow and die. On the underside of the leaf, greenish larvae cover, they feed on the sap of the plant.||The whitefly is a tiny white insect that reproduces rapidly. Larvae harm the plant.||Fighting a whitefly is not easy. Once every three days, spray the plant with preparations containing permethrin, Admiral or Kinmix insecticides. The pest dies only after repeated treatment.||Inspect the plant regularly. At the first sign of damage, take measures to prevent pests from breeding.|
|Young leaves and shoots curl, deform and die.||Aphids are small insects that live in colonies.||Remove insects with your hands. Treat the plant with a specialized aphid remedy and spray with preparations containing permethrin.|
How to propagate
Two methods are suitable for reproduction of akalifa: seed and cuttings.
Akalifa seeds are sown in early spring. The soil mixture for sowing should be light: from leafy earth and sand in equal parts.
- Soak the seeds for a day in a growth stimulant (Epin or Zircon).
- Pour soil into a container (preferably a heated greenhouse), moisten it.
- Cover the seeds in the soil, sprinkling them only lightly.
- Cover the container or greenhouse with a transparent lid, turn on the heating.
- Place crops in a warm place, the soil should maintain a temperature of 20-22 degrees. Bottom heating accelerates seed germination.
- Moisten and ventilate crops.
- When two true leaves appear on the shoots, transplant the seedlings into separate pots with soil, as for an adult Akalif.
Cuttings of flowering varieties of Akalifa are carried out in early spring. Plants with variegated foliage all year round. You can root cuttings in sand, sand and peat mixture, or just in water.
- Slice about 10cm shoots that are already woody using a sharp knife or razor blade.
- Remove the bottom leaves. Next, place the cuttings in an opaque container with water (its level should not be higher than 5 cm) or place in wet sand (mixture with peat), poured into a greenhouse.
- Cover the cuttings in a container with a bag, in a greenhouse with a lid, put in a bright place without direct sun.
- Keep the temperature at least 22-25 degrees.
- Spray the cuttings and ventilate.
- After the roots appear, plant the cuttings of akalifa in a nutritious substrate (the compositions are in the chapter on transplantation). You can plant each stalk separately, or you can plant several in one pot to make the plant more luxuriant.
- Take care of the growing Akalifs like adults. But get used to intense lighting gradually.
- When the seedlings are one and a half months old, pinch off the top buds.
Akalifa is an amazing plant with wonderful fluffy inflorescences or incredibly beautifully colored foliage. Caring for him is not so easy, he is not for the lazy. And to those who are ready to spend a little time and effort, Akalifa will pay back in full. Bioenergetics claim that Akalifa successfully fights pessimism and discouragement. It accumulates the energy of joy. This plant is warming. In addition, the foliage of akalifa cleanses the environment of laziness and negative emotions. If you want to be easier to deal with troubles, to become easier on the rise, try to get an akalifa. Her fox tails will always cheer you up.