Classification, origin and description
Common name: still called with the old name of Aralia elegantissima.
Kind: Dizygotheca (originally it was classified in the genus Aralia).
Etymology: from the Greek dis (twice), zygos (union) and theke (casket) due to the presence, in the anthers, of a double number of loggias.
provenance: tropical islands of Oceania and Asia.
Genre description: includes 17 species of shrub plants, evergreens with beautiful light and elegant leaves, formed by thin and long leaves with a toothed margin, carried by a long petiole, which take on a bronze-red-brown color, young and dark green, as adults. With us they can't bloom.
Dizygotheca elegantissima (website photo)
Species and varieties
Dizygotheca elegantissima: native to the New Hebrides, this species, widespread by our florists, is still called with the old name of Aralia elegantissima. In nature it has an arborescent growth habit, reaching a height of 7 m., But we place on the market young specimens (about one year old) that have a semi-woody stem, on which the leaves, with a long petiole and shape, are inserted directly palmate, formed by 7-10 leaflets, thin, linear, with toothed margin, which reach a length of 8 cm and a width of 1 cm. Their color varies from red-brown, from the juvenile stage, to dark green, from the adult stage. Normally, due to the stem lignification process, the plant tends to lose the basal leaves. This process is accentuated in our apartments by the presence of a climate, generally hot and dry.
Dizygotheca kerchioveana: similar to the previous one, this species differs in the lighter color of the leaves.
Dizygotheca veitchii: native to New Caledonia, this species has long leaflets (but wider than those of D. elegantissima), bright green in color, with toothed margins, slightly wavy. The young leaves have a green-brown foil with a pink central rib.
Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions
Temperature: the minimum winter temperature must not be below 12-15 ° C.
Light: very strong, widespread, away from direct sunlight.
Watering and environmental humidity: frequent in summer, very small in winter, without drying the earthen bread. Pay close attention to any stagnant water in the saucer. The humidity must be very high, increased by spraying and misting of the foliage. It can be useful to keep the plant on a bowl with gravel always kept moist (making sure that the water never reaches the base of the pot).
Substrate: mixture of earth from leaves, peat and potting soil in equal parts, with the addition of sand to increase drainage.
Special fertilizations and tricks: fertilize from May to August twice a week. They must be repotted in the spring, every two years.
Multiplication and pruning
Multiplication: it can be multiplied in summer, by semi-woody apical cutting, about 10 cm long (taking care to leave 4-5 leaves at the vegetative apex). This must be plant, half-length, in a substrate similar to that of culture, at a temperature of 20-24 ° C, under glass or plastic cover (taking care to air from time to time to avoid the formation of a stagnant environment and asphyxiated). When the seedlings produce new shoots, they will have to be planted in 7 cm containers. and, when they have become large enough, they can be planted in the definitive pot, trying to group more specimens to obtain thicker specimens. On plants with a woody stem, layering can be practiced at the point corresponding to the node that is located near the last leaf. It can also be reproduced by seed, from February to April, at a temperature of 23-26 ° C. The new seedlings will have to be repotted when the first two true leaves appear. Cutting and air layering have long rooting times; while the germination of the seeds is rather rapid.
Pruning: although it does not require a real pruning, it is useful, at the beginning of spring, to cut, about 10 cm. from the soil, highly developed plants with robust stems.
Diseases, pests and adversities
- Very hanging leaves: it can be a symptom of excess water, cold or drought.
- Brown mealybugs: they occur with the formation of brown growths (determined by the small "shell") and giving the plant a blackish and sticky appearance (due to the production by the plant of sugary substances that make it subject to attack by fungi and fumaggini). They are fought by removing them and treating the plant with an anticoccidic product or by rubbing the affected parts with a pad soaked in water and alcohol.