Southern California has the blessing of warm weather most of the year. Winters are mild, too. These conditions allow for many tropical blooming plants in our landscapes. One such plant is Ixora, of which jungle geranium is the most common variety.
Coming in all colors and sizes, Ixoras bloom best when it’s hot, taking most of the spring to put on new growth and produce flower buds. Once flowering has begun, you’ll enjoy color all summer long.
Ixoras are lush, large-leaved shrubs that produce rounded clusters of star-shaped blooms. These clusters can grow 7 to 8 inches in diameter and are scattered randomly throughout the plant. They appear on the tips of new upright stems and are readily visible and fully exposed to the sun.
“Maui” is a bright red-orange variety that produces a medium size shrub with medium size foliage.
“Nora Grant” is a dark pink blooming variety with a habit similar to Maui.
“JG Yellow” produces butter yellow blooms on a shorter, compact shrub.
“Superking” is a large, striking variety, often growing to 5 to 6 feet tall with large, glossy leaves and large dark red blooms.
Dwarf Ixora, or “Taiwan-ensis,” comes in red, yellow, pink, and orange. They are ultra-compact, often growing to no more than 8 to 10 inches. They bloom in great profusion but are slow to re-bloom. If space is a problem, try these compact tropical jewels.
- Plant your Ixora in a sunny, raised area, using plenty of planting mix or soil mix to raise the level of the bed.
- Dig a hole 1.5 to 2 times wider than the root size but no deeper than the original pot.
- Rest the root system on the undisturbed soil at the bottom of the hole and fill around the roots with your prepared bed mixture.
- Water your new plant with a root stimulator, following the directions on the label.
- If a trellis is necessary or desired, install it no more than 12 inches away from the plant so that it will be available for support.
Ixoras are very sensitive to drying out and should be watered regularly and thoroughly. But take care not to over water. Deep watering will ensure that roots grow deep and will resist drought.
A regular application of fertilizer aids in the formation of new flower buds. Since flowers spring from new growth, encouraging new growth will encourage more blooms.
You can make supplemental feedings with a water-soluble fertilizer throughout the growing season. Hibiscus fertilizer is formulated with many tropical blooming plants in mind, offering the correct balance of leaf-inducing nitrogen, bloom-promoting phosphorus, and vigor-imparting potassium.
Insects & Disease
Like many tropicals, Ixoras are susceptible to mealy bugs and spider mites. Insecticidal soaps and sprays can help (follow all directions on the manufacturer’s label). If your planting is healthy and gets plenty of sunshine, your plants will likely fend off many pests.
You can more precisely control growing conditions by growing Ixora in containers. For instance, you can offer winter protection by moving the container into the warmth of a garage. You can install drip irrigation to individual pots and apply soluble fertilizers.
Use a blooming tropical mix with no added fertilizers to increase soil salts and burn roots.