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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Ixora (Ixora hybrids)

By Staff | Apr 1, 2015

First impression: Bright, lipstick red, slender tubes that end with four petals. I find it interesting that 50-60 of these small flowers collectively form into a large pompon like blossom. These extra large bouquets blanket the shrub. The dark green shiny leaves are the perfect companion to accent the full, gorgeous red blossoms.

No detectable fragrance, but pollinators are all around. Gosh, we have hundreds planted and they reward us every day with thousands of never ending blossoms. You can see these multitudes of scarlet trumpets blooming without playing a tune at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Ixora boasts 300-plus species of shrubs and trees originating from the tropics. Our star is very unusual to our northern visitors, but quite common in our gardens. It is one of my most frequently asked “What is the name of that plant?” question.

Tender too cold, when it gets chilly aka in the thirties, its leaves drop. No worry, once our temperatures begin to warm up, usually the next day new growth will appear. Here in paradise when our plant loses their leaves from cold, we should refrain from trimming. Pruning adds another stress on the already stressed cold plant. Since we don’t get cold much, we have lots of opportunity to admire those super big blossoms. The flowers are shaped like slender stiletto fringed trumpets. Approximately 11 flowers are on each of the five umbels, which collectively make up a gynormous blossom.

Guess what? They flower all year round! Their supporting casts are glossy, stiff and oblong shaped leaves on a dense, multi-branched evergreen shrub. It can be planted alone or grouped together with a mature height varying from 5-15 feet. Many varieties mature and thrive in our tropical temperatures. My favorite flower color is cadmium red, but they also come in pink, orange, white, and yellow. Easy to care for, they need little pruning, and have a natural upright shape. Hedging and edging pruning practices takes away from the flowering potential of our star. This sun to partial-shade lover needs good drainage and regular watering to do well. I add iron not fertilizer to my Ixora twice a year, and make sure they have lots of mulch and leaf litter.

Did you know we get hummingbirds here in paradise? Besides migrating through in the spring and fall, some will stop here and take up residence for the fall and winter seasons. This plant is a must for them to pick your yard as their winter home. Red fiery tubular flowers are their menu of the day and will keep them hovering in your yard, building their nests. When their food source is available and nearby, they will reward you with never ending escapades of weightlessness and acrobatics.

Pros:

* Almost always blooming.

* Natural shape.

* Blooming brings in the pollinators.

* Great for cut flowers.

* Hummers must have!

* Medium salt tolerant.

* Non-invasive.

* Great choice of different colored varieties.

Cons:

* Hedging and edging has less blooms.

* No need to count your blooms, you have enough for the neighbors to steal.

* Blooming brings in the pollinators.

* Who doesn’t love hummers?

* Not cold tolerant.

* Need to treat with iron twice a year.

* Non-native.

Conclusion: We have oodles of eye catching Ixora’s bursting with blossoms. So many choices, so little time aahhhtake all the time you need in our tropical eye-catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!