GARDENING: Meet the colourful shrubs in bloom across CQ
Have you noticed the number of flowering plants in our local gardens?
In particular the number of flowering Ixoras in bloom around Rockhampton.
In my mind no plant that has looked better, flowered better or has had less insect problems this season.
In fact, it would be hard to find a shrub more colourful than the Ixora at the moment.
With their glossy, deep green leaves and spectacular heads of scarlet, orange, yellow, pink, or white flowers, a position could be found for this plant in almost any garden.
Ixora is a large genus of about 400 species of evergreen shrubs and small trees, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and the islands of the Pacific.
These shrubs are used for massed bedding, hedges and screens, and can be also be grown in containers.
Commonly known as the Jungle Geranium or Jungle Flame, it would be easy to think the Ixora will require thousands of litres of water per year to survive, yet surprisingly, most Ixoras will use less than three litres of water per week.
When growing Ixoras in Central Queensland, you will find that they need regular water during the warmer months and very little during the cooler months.
Ixoras need humus-rich, moist but freely drained, friable soils.
I would recommend a light pruning after flowering in late autumn or winter, to maintain a neat shape.
The cooler times of the year are the best for pruning, as the plant does not need to be watered as much.
Spent flower heads should be removed immediately.
Propagate from cuttings in summer or from seed in spring.
One question that is always asked is what is the best Ixora for Central Queensland gardens?
The answer is not easy, as there are more than twenty varieties that I know that will grow well locally.
There are a number of very hardy Ixora‘s that can be found in nurseries all over Central Queensland.
My favourites include the following:
Ixora Kampong White is a large bushy shrub that will grow to 2m high.
This shrub will bear clusters of large white most of the year.
While the shrub may be a little harder to find in some nurseries it is worth a place in the garden.
Ixora New Guinea Gold is quite an attractive bushy shrub, with beautiful heads of golden yellow flowers through the warmer months of the year.
This is an excellent shrub, and one well worth finding a position for in your garden.
Ixora Pink Malay is an attractive and hardy shrub, which will grow to about one metre high in local gardens.
It will bear masses of brightly coloured heads of coral pink flowers throughout the warmer months of the year.
Ixora Prince of Orange is one of the hardest shrubs sold locally.
It grows to around 2m high and has deep green glossy leaves that really shine and the shrub is almost completely covered in fiery orange blooms during the warm times of the year.
Ixora williamsii would be one of the most popular Ixoras, with magnificent bright red heads of flowers and glossy dark green leaves.
Suitable for a variety of positions, this two-metre shrub would make an excellent screen plant or feature plant for a tropical garden.
IS DWARF GOOD?
The biggest selling varieties of Ixoras are the dwarf hybrid varieties.
What has endeared these plants to gardeners around the state is its ability to be trimmed, shaped, or hedged.
All the hybrids will be massed in flowers during the warm times of the year.
The dwarf varieties to look for include:
Ixora Sunkist is a delightful Ixora with the added advantage of being dwarf and compact.
This is a genuine miniature which masses in heads of scarlet flowers for many months during summer.
It is suited for semi-shade and ideal for tubs, gardens, rockeries, or a sunroom.
Ixora Peggy is a pure white form of the miniature Ixora and makes an excellent edging plant to a formal garden.
I have found this plant to perform at its best in a sunny well-drained position.
Ixora Pygmy Pink should be one of the most colourful small shrubs for local gardens.
It grows to around half a metre high with masses of bright pink flowers.
Ixora Sunshine is a low growing shrub to 75cm by 75cm, with profusion of yellow flowers.
I have used this plant in many garden designs over the years and have found it to perform well in most soil types.
Ixora Twilight Glow, a spectacular shrub, with two-toned apricot and orange flowers appearing during the warm months of the year.
Being of similar size and shape to the very popular Ixora Sunkist and Sunshine Yellow, it will be a perfect new addition to the garden.
DID YOU KNOW?
In Asia, the roots of Ixoras are used to make a medicine said to alleviate stomach ailments and cure dysentery.