ENH 955 Ixora for South Florida1 Gail Keeler, Kim Gabel, Rick Schoellhorn2 1. This document is publication ENH 955, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Published November 2003. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Gail Keeler, Specialist, Extension Projects, UF/IFAS Monroe County Extension; Kim Gabel, Environmental Horticulture Agent II, UF/IFAS Monroe County Extension; Rick Schoellhorn, Floriculture Specialist, UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department, Gainesville, FL. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Larry R. Arrington, Interim Dean Introduction Figure 1. Ixora. Ixora, like other acid-loving plants such as hibiscus, gardenia, citrus, and Allamanda, can be an attractive landscape plant, but there are a few requirements you need to know to keep Ixora healthy and flowering in your yard. All acid-loving plants will require more fertilization management than plants that are adapted to growing in alkaline soils. Mostly this involves being aware of the pH (or acidity) of the soil you are planting in. A pH of around 5 is good for Ixora; this pH is slightly lower than for most landscape plants. Avoid planting Ixora or any acid-loving plant close to your concrete foundation, and screen soil in planting areas for any concrete fragments that may cause soil pH to be too high for good plant growth. When grown under proper conditions, Ixora has dark green glossy leaves and colorful flower clusters that bloom year round. Ixora is a woody shrub, perennial in zones 10 and 11, and is used as an annual in northern regions. Some varieties have pinkish-red, yellow, or white flowers. Depending on the cultivar, this low-growing evergreen shrub can grow between 3 and 8 feet tall. Ixora can be used for hedges, specimen plants, or can be grown in large planter boxes. It likes full sun but will tolerate light shade. It has medium salt tolerance. Do not overwater. Pruning An annual pruning is usually best to keep your Ixora flowering. Try to avoid repeatedly shearing off the tips of the branches, as this kind of pruning removes emerging flower buds so you won't get as many flowers. Any major pruning to shape plants should be done in early spring as plants begin to send out new growth.
Ixora for South Florida 2 Figure 2. Ixora flower. Planting Screen native soil of rocks by putting it through half-inch by half-inch hardware cloth. Mix up to 1/3 organic matter such as compost, peat moss, or composted manure into the native soil when planting Ixora. Organic matter helps to lower soil pH. Using topsoil exclusively may make it difficult for roots to penetrate the native soil as they grow. Do not plant under an overhang or near downspouts, as rain run-off will damage the plants. It is also a good idea to avoid planting Ixora next to concrete walkways or foundations, as concrete surfaces have a very high pH and this can cause problems with Ixora growth and flowering. Do not use pea rock as mulch. Ixora needs a well-drained site. Apply 3 inches of organic mulch, keeping it away from the trunk. Fertilization Ixora grown in alkaline soil is very prone to iron and manganese deficiencies. The symptoms appear on the new foliage as leaves turn yellow or begin yellowing between the leaf veins while the veins remain green. As symptoms continue, leaves may become smaller and the buds may die. Although chelated iron and manganese can be applied to the soil as granular fertilizer, high soil pH prevents most of it from being taken up by the plant. Liquid micronutrients sprayed on the foliage work best for treating the problem. Apply these materials according to the manufacturers' recommendations (mixing with distilled water or rainwater). Protect white surfaces, such as concrete, as the fertilizer will stain them yellow. Adding organic mulches, applying soil sulfur at recommended rates, and using acidic fertilizers are all ways to help lower high pH. Insect Pests The most common pests of Ixora are aphids, scale insects, and mealy bugs. Sooty mold, a black fungus that grows on the excrement of these bugs, can follow. Control of the pests will solve the sooty mold problem. Try using horticultural oil spray to control the insects. Apply weekly for five weeks and you should see improvement. Follow manufacturer's directions. Oil spray is best applied late in the day to reduce damage to leaves by sunburn. Try a small test area first. Nematodes can also be a problem. Mulch around the plant, not coming right up against the trunk, to deter these microscopic soil worms. Propagation Ixora can be propagated by tip cuttings of both tender tips and semi-hardwood growth. Take 4to 6-inch pieces and plant in a well-drained growth medium. Using a rooting hormone can help speed rooting. Keep lightly watered for four to six weeks until they become rooted. Cultivars The most common species grown in Florida is Ixora coccinea, which produces a yellowish-orange flower, but many species and cultivars should be available at your local nurseries. Popular Ixora varieties include: Ixora X 'Nora Grant' red flowers Ixora casei 'Super King' large red flowers Ixora X 'Angela Busman' rose flowers Ixora X 'Maui' orange flowers Ixora X 'Prince of Orange' orange flowers Ixora chinensis 'Fraseri' orange-rose flowers Ixora chinensis 'Singapore Yellow' yellow flowers
Ixora for South Florida 3 Ixora X 'Frances Perry' yellow flowers Ixora X 'Herrera's White' white flowers Dwarf cultivars are also available in orange, pink, red, and yellow. If you have good luck with Ixora you may also want to try growing pentas and Rondeletia, which are also members of the same plant family (Rubiaceae) and perform well throughout south Florida. Other members of this family of plants include: coffee Coffea arabica gardenia Gardenia species Mexican fire bush Hamelia patens firecracker vine Manettia rubra false poinsettia Mussaenda species wild coffee Psychotria species panama rose Rondeletia splendens bush pentas Rondeletia leucophylla