Mussaenda plants for home gardens, that you can grow easily and make your garden really awesome. Definitely we can try this plant for a colourful landscaping, especially for tropical places like Kerala.
Generally these are evergreen perennials that need only minimum caring.
There are about 6000 species of plants that are mostly shrubs or small trees. Certain varieties with weaker stems need support to climb.
Usually the plant grows up to a height of about three meters. However we can keep it short or according to the required height through proper pruning. Mostly for pot planting or for keeping in balconies or indoors where the plant gets proper lighting.
Surprisingly most of the plants bear attractive bunches of flower like structures. These are really modified sepals or bracts that surround flowers. Flowers are commonly yellow, orange or red in colour.
Mussaenda frondosa ( Mussaenda glabrata )
Generally this species of mussaenda is known as dhobi tree. Truly it is the wild species of the plant, which is very common in Kerala. Especially in the western ghats, where tropical flora and fauna are found in abundance.
Known as vellila in Malayalam language, mussaenda frondosa is having many medicinal properties. For example, it is used along with other ingredients for making ayurvedic preparations. Preferably for the treatment of eye problems, skin diseases etc.
Also we can use the extract taken from the leaves and stem as a herbal substitute for shampoo.
Moreover it is one one of the best garden plants, mostly for tropical places like India and other south Asian countries.
Most important difference of the plant from other mussaenda species, is the arrangement of sepals.
Usually there is only one white sepal beneath each flower for mussaenda frondosa.
Commonly other mussaenda varieties are having more sepals, that make them noticeable in a faster way.
Mussaenda plants for home gardens
Different varieties of the plant
For tropical or sub tropical climates there are many varieties that are easy to grow. For example, mussaenda erythrophylla, mussaenda philippica etc. Most of these are having bracts with deep red, pink or white and flowers in orange or yellow colours.
Mussaenda Philippica aurorae, with white bracts is my favourite among that. Truly the plant has got its name after Dona Aurora, the wife of one of the former presidents of Philippines.
Definitely mussaenda is one of the best options for plants that produce blooms year around. Lantana, ixora, hibiscus etc. are a few examples of tropical flowering plants, that produce flowers throughout the year.
Though mussaenda is not suitable for bonsai, we can definitely grow them in pots. Surely it is easy to keep them short thorough proper pruning.
Therefore, it is one of the best plants for balconies or other such places. But you should always ensure availability of sunlight for about six hours a day.
Mussaenda one of the best ornamental trees
Likewise we can grow mussaenda along with ornamental trees in our gardens. Preferably like ornamental palms, ficus benjamina, different fruit bearing trees etc.
For this, allow the plant to reach a height of about five to six meters without pruning. After that you can trim the unnecessary branches to make the plant really attractive. Repeat the above process as and when required, so as to retain the beauty of your mussaenda tree.
In addition, mussaenda is one of the best options for growing as ornamental plants for compound walls. Mainly like, trailing vines, different ficus varieties, bougainvillea etc.
Propagation of mussaenda plants for home gardens
Surely we can use stem cuttings for the propagation of mussaenda plants. For this, collect cuttings of about six to eight inches from mature mother plants.
Applying a rooting hormone at the cut end is fine for faster growth.
Furthermore, you can use pots or small polythene bags filled with a mixture of river sand and garden soil for rooting.
In a like manner, rooted good quality saplings are available in almost all nurseries.
Once the cuttings are rooted properly, you can transfer them to their final growing places. Always remember to find sunny places if you grow them directly in the garden.
Likewise make pits about 1:1:1 foot. Then fill it with a mixture of sand, garden soil and any organic manure in equal quantities.
For pot planting, first prepare a well drained medium. It is really good to make a home made potting mixture by combining ingredients in the following ratio.
|Cow dung or compost||30%|
|Neem seed powder and bone meal||10%|
Further fill the pot with the above mixture, take the sapling out of the rooting bag or pot and plant carefully.
Then keep it in shade for a few days, and gradually move to bright indirect sunlight.
First few days after replanting, your mussaenda needs watering on a daily basis. Usually the mature plant needs water only on alternate days or twice in a week.
However, always make it sure that there is proper drainage for your potted mussaenda.
Never forget to feed your plant with any organic manure, preferably at intervals of two or three months. Ordinarily well dried and powdered cow dung and compost are best options.
If you use any granular manure, keep a distance of at least two to three inches from the main stem. Also remember to water the plant soon after feeding.
Pruning mussaenda plants for home gardens
It is really very essential to prune your mussaenda, retain its it health and beauty. After each blooming remove old flower stalks, leggy stems, curly leaves etc. using a sharp scissors or pruning shears.
Pests and diseases of mussaenda plants for home gardens
Usually mussaenda plants are rarely affected by pests or diseases in tropical climates. Sometimes we can see wrinkled leaves and flowers, that may make the plants look dull and unhealthy.
Certainly we can spray some diluted neem seed oil in such situations, which is very effective.
Moreover you can try any other organic pesticides that are also fine.
Given above the basic description about mussaenda, one of the most beautiful tropical flowering plants. You can definitely try to grow a few of them in your garden, to make it really awesome.