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The Codonanthe are a group of about ten species of evergreen, epiphytic plants, originating in central and southern America. They have thin stems, poorly branched, up to 40-50 cm long, climbing or prostrate, which tend to lignify over the years; the small oval leaves are alternate, dark green, slightly fleshy, waxy, sometimes covered with a thin down (depending on the species). Throughout the year, they produce a profusion of small elongated white or cream-colored trumpet flowers, which are followed by berries similar to small green olives, which turn red or orange when ripe. These plants are very suitable for hanging baskets, from which the stems fall elegantly.
These plants are quite easy to grow, they do not require special care. To better grow the codonanthe, place them in a fairly bright place, but sheltered from direct sunlight and from too bright light; they fear the cold, even if they could be grown at temperatures close to 5-6 ° C, so in places with very mild winters they could find a place in a shady garden.
Water regularly, avoiding water stagnation and letting the soil dry slightly between one watering and another; to obtain a continuous flowering it is advisable to mix a small dose of fertilizer for flowering plants to the water with which to facilitate the growth of the plant. These plants originate from the rainforests of south-central America, where the climate is very humid; to increase the environmental humidity during the warm months and during the periods of the year in which the domestic heating system is active, it is good to vaporize the plant often, using demineralized water.
Like many other epiphytic plants, codonantas do not produce a conspicuous root system, so they do not need very large containers; they are cultivated in a mixture of soil, shredded bark, perlite and medium-grain pumice stone. It is very important that the soil, while slightly retaining the humidity, let excess water pass quickly. For repotting, use only slightly wider pots than the previous ones. This is because they are plants that do not have an extensive root system and therefore do not need large spaces.
Fertilize the soil with liquid fertilizers diluted in irrigation water during the spring period. Repeat every two weeks and prefer fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
These plants multiply by seed in spring; in spring and summer it is possible to take semi-woody cuttings. Cutting is a highly appreciated method of reproduction thanks to the possibility of giving life to new plants practically at zero cost. The technique is based on the use of a fragment of the mother plant that must be planted in a vase containing sand and peat in equal parts. It is important to use clean and well sharpened working tools to cut the branches that will be used as a cutting to avoid fraying of the fabrics. The soil should be kept constantly humid until it is rooted.
Codonanthe in general are not pruned. At the most, the branches can be shortened if the plant tends to grow excessively, this in the spring.
Codonanthe: Pests and diseases
The codonanthe fear root rot; may occasionally be affected by mites.