Heptapleurum arboreal (Heptapleurum arboricola Variegata and Heptapleurum arboricola Geisha Girl), growing in an apartment

According to the horoscope, the zodiac sign Virgo (August 24-September 23) unites such plants as Japanese fatsia, monstera deliciosa, cross (large-tongue, mikaniform), syngonium, dracaena unfolded, Japanese aucuba, scindapsus - "devil's ivy" (golden, painted), philodendron (climbing, Lysemenna, guitar-shaped), cissus (Antarctic, multicolored, striped), arboreal heptapleurum.

Arboreal heptapleurum (Heptapleurum arboricola) belongs to the numerous Araliaceae family, widespread in all parts of the world. Recall that this also includes medicinal ginseng, eleutherococcus prickly, Manchurian aralia and sheffler. According to many experts, the warm Pacific coast is considered the birthplace of arboreal heptapleurum. At present, the area of ​​its growth covers almost all the southern regions of the globe. In room culture, one species is common, which has several varieties. The most popular forms are: Heptapleurum arboricola Variegata with yellow-green and Heptapleurum arboricola Geisha Girl with greener foliage. Woody heptapleurum is a deciduous, straight-stemmed, weakly branching, fast-growing plant (100-250 cm high), which pleases the grower all year round with the extraordinary decorativeness of its foliage.

It has distinctive long-petiolate, palmate-compound leaves. The petiole is attached to the tree-like stem. From the top of each petiole 7-10 oval (pointed at the ends) greenish or yellowish shiny leaves, reaching up to 10 cm in length and 4-5 cm in width, extend from the top of each petiole. It blooms very rarely under indoor conditions. Heptapleurum is easy enough to grow indoors if it is provided with favorable cultivation conditions for this. First of all, it must be borne in mind that with successful care, it is able to reach a height of 1.8-2 m (in some cases, 2.5 m), therefore, when growing it in the form of a tree and when it reaches a decent height, it is important in the future to provide timely the plant is a good support.

For its cultivation, a room is selected with sufficiently bright lighting (with shading from direct bright sunlight) and high humidity, warm (18-210C), especially for winter maintenance (not lower than 170C); eliminate drafts. Avoid sudden temperature changes. In a room with a high level of shading, the plant will stretch too much. Woody heptapleurum needs abundant (but not frequent) watering from spring to autumn, but without stagnant water in the pan. Like all araliaceae, it reacts poorly to dry air and needs regular spraying of the leaves with settled water at room temperature, especially in the summer, when hot weather is observed. Summer monthly leaf washing is useful for him. If the heptapleurum is transferred to the open air in the summer, for example, to a garden or to a balcony, then in hot weather it must be shaded from the direct sun, because burns in the form of small spots and bumps are possible. In winter, watering is limited: the soil is moistened much less often, but it is not brought to complete dryness, as this can cause the death of the plant. In spring and summer, woody heptapleurum is fed twice a month with a solution of complex mineral or weakly diluted organic (once every 4-5 weeks) fertilizer.

Some gardeners practice annual spring transplantation of young plants, using for this purpose leafy, sod, humus and peat soil, sand (in a ratio of 2: 1: 1: 1: 1 or in equal proportions; sometimes peat is excluded). And although heptapleurum grows very quickly, nevertheless, I think it is better to transplant it for the first time when it reaches the age of 3-4 years. Heptapleurum is often confused with the closely related Schefflera. Let me remind you that its palmate-complex leaves also consist of pointed leaves (up to 8 pieces) up to 15 cm long and up to 5-6 cm wide, emerging, like the needles of an umbrella, from one point. Unlike shefflera, when removing the growth point on the main stem, heptapleurum grows well as a bush. By such periodic pinching of the upper buds of the stem, you can slowly form the crown of the tree. This is certainly a great advantage, as it allows a potentially tall plant to stay longer in our relatively low living quarters. Arboreal heptapleurum is propagated by apical stem cuttings and seeds in the second half of spring and summer. Seeds are recommended to be sown in warm, loose soil and germinated at high temperature and humidity.

Then the matured seedlings are planted in separate containers with the prepared soil mixture. For successful rooting, cuttings need to be provided with bottom heating, diffused lighting and cover with a jar or film; sometimes they resort to processing the tips of cuttings with solutions of biostimulants (for example, heteroauxin). On this perennial plant, the appearance of aphids and scale insects is possible, somewhat less often a spider mite and mealybug. Aphids start more often in the summer, getting on the plant from the street, and also when it is kept in the garden or on the balcony.

This is a small (2-3 mm) insect with an oval-convex body on thin legs, black or pale green in color. At a certain moment, winged individuals appear in its population, capable of flying from one indoor plant to another. Aphids usually populate young parts, sucking out nutritious plant juices from them. In addition, a black sooty fungus settles on the sticky secretions of aphids, by which you can also fix the appearance of the pest on the plant.

The scutellum is an oval scutellum of grayish-white or light brown color. As a rule, in the places of attachment of the pest, the leaf around it becomes oval lightened. With a low number, it is possible to carefully remove the scale insect from the leaves. We also note that even when we pick off or destroy the shield by processing, the stain remains, which greatly reduces the decorative effect of the plant. Mealybug is a sedentary oval pinkish or whitish insect 2-4 mm long. It is covered with a white, waxy powder - bloom. In summer, it accumulates mainly on leaf petioles, but with a high abundance, it also collects on leaf blades. One of the signals of the appearance of a mealybug is a waxy discharge, very similar to small lumps of white cotton wool. The colonization of a heptapleurum with a herbivorous spider mite can lead, especially with its large number, to the shedding of leaves and, ultimately, to the death of the plant. This pest is found by the abundance of cobwebs, especially on young leaves, on which it is more often located on the lower side.

With a small amount on the plant, aphids, mealybugs and spider mites can be washed off with hot (up to 45-50 ° C) soapy water (20 g / l). In order to destroy them with full guarantee, they resort to two or three times (with an interval of 7-10 days) spraying with actellik solution (2 ml / l). This acaricide is also used in the fight against the scabbard. Let me remind you that when treating a houseplant with chemicals, you must follow all the safety rules that are recommended when working with pesticides.

If the rules for caring for the plant are violated, the florist may face a number of physiological diseases. With a sharp change in the conditions of detention, for example, due to excess moisture in the soil substrate and a draft, foliage may fall off and the appearance of drying tips of leaf blades. The plant does not tolerate cold dry air at all, from which the leaves begin to curl and fall off. Heptapleurum, a relatively new indoor plant that is not yet in wide demand, I advise to pay attention to novice flower growers. Thanks to its large, beautiful leaves of a characteristic shape, it can serve as a very valuable object for the decoration of winter gardens and the interior of large halls, greening of premises and light corridors of offices. Until this plant is tall, it looks very good on a bedroom window sill or office desk.

Alexander Lazarev, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Senior Researcher, All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Pushkin

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