Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on August 16, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Make Room On Patios For Ixora And Croton
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Our long growing season lends itself to enjoying exotic flowers from tropical regions of the world. A coffee relative, Ixora, is a jungle-type plant that is ideal for porches or patios.
The Ixora has been around but in fairly small quantities. This year I have been getting phone calls about the plant, so I decided to give you a little more information. Ixora is also known as "Jungle Geranium" and "Flame in the Woods" and is actually an evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves and grows easily in containers, giving us nonstop blooms during the warm months.
The star-shaped flowers are borne in large clusters and come in bright colors of yellow, pink and red.
They have been for sale in small 4-inch containers all the way to 2- and 3-gallon sizes. If you buy a smaller size, choose at least a 10-inch container to grow yours in and fill with a light potting mixture. Place the plant at the same depth it is growing in the container.
The Ixora, which is native to tropical Asia, also looks exceptional in some of the new Asian pottery that has a lot of people talking.
Good buys on Ixora will also enable you to grow some in the landscape and treat as annuals.
Ixora prefers moist acidic soil. During the growing season, feed every two weeks with a complete fertilizer for acidic plants that contains minor nutrients. Feed monthly during the winter. The minor nutrients are important to maintain healthy foliage. Growers biggest complaint is leaves that develop a yellowish color. The regular fertilization will take care of this.
Keep well-watered during the summer. If you want to keep for extended enjoyment, remember to take them indoors before freezing weather. Once indoors the water and fertilization can be cut way back. Don't forget that the leading cause of death to houseplants is overwatering.
Ixora's foliage and flowers give it the ability to be combined with another tropical that is always a good buy, the croton. The foliage of the croton is like carnival in the Caribbean with bright and bold colors. It is one of the prettiest plants we can grow in containers for porches, decks or patios. The color given is year-round.
Grow crotons in Old World or Asian-style pots as the focal point on your patio. Plant in a well-drained and loose potting mixture. Crotons need sunlight to develop the rich colors but appreciate a little shade protection in the mid-afternoon.
If you feel like the flowers of the Ixora are just too much color to be combined with the croton, try something green like dwarf bananas, whether in the landscape or tub.
Like the Ixora crotons prefer a slightly acidic soil, be careful not to let the plants dry out. Keep well watered and fed every other week with a water-soluble fertilizer or use time-released granules with a 3-1-2 ratio (9-3-6) with minor nutrients every four to six weeks, during the growing season.
If bringing indoors for the winter, do so gradually, letting the plant get adjusted to lower levels of light. Once indoors, do not over water. Cut back on fertilizer until you are ready to take back outside. Spider mites may become a problem indoors so exam regularly. Try using the croton leaves for a fall holiday wreath or table decoration.