Appenia: home care
Aptenia is an evergreen groundcover native to South Africa. In our country, this flower can be found in summer in flowerbeds, but more often it is grown in room culture as an ampelous plant, used to decorate balconies, terraces and home interiors. Aptenia is unpretentious in leaving, however, to maintain the decorativeness and beauty of flowering, she needs certain conditions, which will be discussed in this article.
Botanical description of the plant
According to the botanical description, aptenia is a succulent belonging to the Aizov family. It grows in the arid regions of South Africa and is also found in Australia, Oceania, and the South American continent. The plant has powerful, albeit not very deep roots, which provide strong fixation in dry sandy soil. The stems of the aptenium are creeping, sprawling and rather long. The leaves are fleshy, with small papillae over the entire surface, lanceolate or heart-shaped, opposite on the stem.
Did you know? Aptenia is often called the "midday flower." She got a beautiful poetic name for her ability to fully open her buds only in bright light, which usually happens at noon.
Succulent blooms with bright small (up to 1.5 cm in diameter) flowers, located singly in the axils of the leaves or on the tops of the stems. The flowering is saturated and long - from spring to mid-autumn. The flowers are flat-round, consisting of many needle-shaped petals of scarlet, purple, mauve, less often white. The buds are opened in the middle of the day. After flowering, a fruit is formed in their place, which is a capsule with several chambers, each of which contains 1 rather large dark brown seed with a rough shell.
|Root system||powerful, superficial|
|Leaf shape||lanceolate or heart-shaped|
|Leaf color||bright green or grayish|
|Flower shape||flat round|
|Flower color||red, pink, purple|
|The shape of the fruit (seed)||multi-chamber capsule|
|Color of fruits (seeds)||dark brown|
To date, aptenia remains a poorly studied plant. It is known that in nature its diversity is limited to 4 endemic South African species, of which only 2 are widespread - with heart-shaped and lanceolate leaves.
In indoor floriculture, this succulent is represented by the following types:
- Aptenia is hearty. Creeping perennial with fleshy stems up to 60 cm long, with many branches. The leaves are dense, bright green, about 2.5 cm long, arranged in pairs. The flowers are small, sitting in the axils of the leaves, mainly purple, raspberry, sometimes lilac. Plant height does not exceed 25 cm.
- Aptenia is lanceolate. This species is distinguished by the elongated shape of leaf blades and longer shoots of a grayish hue, reaching 80 cm. The plant is characterized by rapid growth and under natural conditions forms a continuous cover on the surface of the soil. The flowers are small (up to 2 cm), pinkish or lilac in color.
- Aptenia variegate. This form is bred by breeders. Leaflets are heart-shaped, but smaller and lighter than other species. At the edges of the plates there is a bright edge, because of which visually the plant seems mottled.
- Atenia Haeckale. This variety was named after the philosopher and researcher Ernest Haeckal, who in his works described an unusual aptenium with flowers in beige or yellowish-white color.
- Aptenia is white-flowered. Quite a rare species that can be seen in the Nikitsky Botanical Garden in Yalta. The flowers, as the name implies, are white, composed of thin petals that curl in the middle, forming a loose and very delicate bud.
The content of the appenition is unpretentious. In a loose sandy substrate, it will actively grow and bloom every season if it is provided with the necessary conditions.
Bright full lighting succulents need all year round. With a lack of light, its stems are stretched, exposed, and the leaves lose their intense color. In the summer, it is recommended to take out a petition to the balcony, to the garden, where it will feel great even in the sun. However, on the windowsill, it is better to shade the plant from direct rays, since the lack of air flow can lead to overheating and burns of the leaves.
Important! In autumn and winter, when the plant is in a phase of relative dormancy, additional lighting must be provided artificially, since its deficiency has a bad effect on future flowering.
During active vegetation, from spring to early autumn, the most comfortable temperature for an appetite is + 22–25 ° C, but it also normally tolerates a higher temperature. He prefers to winter in cool conditions at a temperature of + 8–10 ° C. An ideal place for wintering can be a warm balcony, where there is enough sun and at the same time it is not hot.
High humidity aptenia is not needed - it feels comfortable in urban apartments, where the air is usually dry. And yet, for the winter, it is better to remove the plant away from heating appliances, since the effect of hot air is contraindicated to him. In summer, the flower can sometimes be sprayed from a spray bottle. During the rest period this procedure is unacceptable.
With home maintenance, it is advisable to try to create conditions close to the natural environment for aptenia, but in general, caring for it is quite simple.
Did you know? The name Aptenia flower received due to wingless seeds ripening after flowering. From Greek, the word "apten" is translated as "wingless."
You need to water the plant regularly, but sparingly, using settled water at room temperature. The frequency of watering should be such that the substrate has time to completely dry. Aptenia, like all succulents, accumulates moisture in the leaves, so it normally tolerates temporary drought. Stagnant moisture for it, on the contrary, is dangerous, as it leads to decay of the roots. In summer, the flower can be washed under a warm shower. In winter, it is rarely watered, only to maintain turgor (intracellular pressure) of the leaves.
Throughout the active growing season, which lasts from the beginning of spring to mid-autumn, aptenia must be fed with a frequency of 1 time per month. Flowering plants are suitable complex micronutrient fertilizers for succulents or cacti. Mineral mixtures containing nitrogen should be applied to young plants only in early spring, as they contribute to the growth of shoots to the detriment of flowering. In autumn and winter, feeding is not carried out.
Find out how and how to feed indoor plants at home.
Forming pruning is not vital for aptenia, but since long stems are exposed all the time, this procedure helps maintain the decorativeness of the plant. Trimming the shoots is better in the fall, as during spring pruning, flowering occurs later. Parts of cropped shoots can be used for further propagation of the flower.
The roots of aptenia develop well and quickly fill the entire pot, which is why about once a year it has to be transplanted into a large container. It is better to do this in the early spring, before the active growth of shoots begins. For planting, it is necessary to prepare a substrate of sheet, turfy soil, humus (1 part each) and 2 parts of sand. You can use a ready-made store mix for succulents. To disinfect the soil, it is recommended to add pieces of charcoal.
Read also how to properly and when to transplant indoor plants.
Drainage should be placed at the bottom of the pot - it can be expanded clay, crushed stone, fragments of brick or the same coal. So that the roots are not damaged during the transplantation, the soil in the pot should be well watered, after which the plant should be removed along with the ground and placed in a new pot, covered with prepared substrate. The first watering is carried out after 4-5 days, since the roots are already quite moist. In summer, blooming aptenia can be planted on flower beds, alpine slides, but in autumn it must be transplanted back into the pot and kept in the house.
This flower can be propagated in two simple and effective ways.
Cuttings can be used any: stem, apical parts or leaves. Before rooting, they need to be dried for several hours in a dry dark place, and then placed in a moistened substrate of sand or vermiculite. A water tank with the addition of an activated carbon tablet is also suitable for this purpose. After about 2 weeks, the sprouts will have roots and can be transplanted into separate pots.
For this method, it is necessary to prepare a light substrate of earth and sand. Seeds are distributed on the surface (not buried), and then sprinkled with a thin layer of soil. Next, the container is covered with glass and placed in a warm bright place where the temperature is maintained + 20-21 ° C. When shoots appear, the shelter is removed, and after a month the seedlings dive in separate pots. Since plants are very susceptible to rot at this age, watering is rare, as the soil dries.
All problems that arise during the cultivation of aptenia are mainly associated with improper care:
- Dropping leaves. The cause of this phenomenon may be the drying up of an earthen coma, or vice versa, stagnation of moisture. The problem is solved by adjusting the irrigation mode. Also, the plant can lose leaves if it hibernates in heat.
- Loss of turgor leaf plates. This happens if the soil is excessively acidic, or the plant is left without watering for a long time. If it is a matter of watering, then it must be restored as soon as possible. You can improve the quality of the soil by adding sand - for aptenia, sandy soil is ideal.
- Lack of flowering. Warm wintering or poor lighting is to blame. For the formation of flower buds, aptenia requires a cool temperature (about + 8 ° C), and good lighting even during rest.
- Rotting of the roots. The cause may be excessive watering or an excess of nitrogen fertilizers. There is only one way out - the plant needs to be transplanted into another pot with a new substrate, and the rotted roots should be cut and treated with a fungicide.
Important! If the shoots of aptenia for some reason are bare in the winter, it is permissible to trim, but no later than February.
Aptenia is quite resistant to various diseases and is not demanding on the conditions of detention, but if it is grown for decorative purposes, special attention should be paid to wintering the plant. Comfortable cool temperature and adequate lighting are the main factors contributing to the laying of buds and abundant flowering in the new season.