Gardening ideas from Evelyn: You will love Crossandra

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Introducing Crossandra — a plant you will love. There are some plants that are love at first sight, plants with pretty blooms, or plants that are a bit unusual and a bit unknown. This is a plant that you are sure to love.

It’s got soft apricot blooms that stand out over glossy green foliage. It’s ever blooming, too. It’s happy out on your patio table with some shade or coastal sun. Indoors, look for that sunny window. This plant is easy to grow and keep growing because it is a cousin to that sturdy, old Shrimp plant. It’s also cousin to the lovely Golden Candles Pachystachys.

Crossandra makes an easy centerpiece for your patio table or for that club luncheon. This bloomer is happy outside all summer and fall. When the cooler winter weather approaches, just move it inside by the sunniest window you have. Of course, you can keep it inside all the time. Just be sure to give it plenty of light or sun.

Here’s a fun bit of knowledge. Its full name is Crossandra infundibuliformis — that second name is a real tongue twister. This part of a plant name usually describes the plant. Infundibuliformis means “in the shape of a funnel or cone,” and the flower’s shape is like a cone.

Here are some useful tips for growing Crossandra:

Tip No. 1

The cone-shaped blooms keep opening up the stem little by little. Eventually, all the flowers on that stem will be finished or the old stem will be just too tall. Simply snip off that flower stem at the point where other shoots are coming into bloom. If at some point your plant gets too tall or looks leggy, you can go farther down to encourage a more bushy plant.

Tip No. 2

Feed your Crossandra twice a month outdoors and once a month indoors with any balanced liquid fertilizer.

Tip No. 3

As far as watering, it depends on the weather, as well as the size of your plant to its pot. Your fingers are the best, cheapest water meter. Take a pinch of soil. Is it cool and damp? Then it’s OK for today. If it’s warm and dry, water now.

Tip No. 4

As far as pests, watch out for aphids. Just wash them off. It’s the same for spider mites. A shower a week keeps them away. Mealybugs are white cottony masses usually where the leaf joins the stem. Remove with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol. Then follow with a light spray of horticultural oil. The alcohol kills what you see; the oil spray smothers the crawlers you can’t see.

Your Crossandra will give you so much pleasure. Pick up two and take one as a gift for someone who needs a bit of cheer.

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