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The euphorbia family. The birthplace of pedilanthus is the tropical and subtropical regions of North America, Central America, the Amazon basin, and the Caribbean, naturalized in the tropics around the world. Previously, all pedilanthus in Latin were called Pedilanthus and were separated into a separate genus of the Euphorbia family, but not so long ago this genus was included in the Euphorbia genus and each of the species received a new name. The most popular species, which has become widespread, is Euphorbia titimaloid, although it is more customary to call it Pedilanthus titimaloid.
Pedilanthus titimaloid or Euphorbia titimaloid Euphorbia tithymaloides formerly Pedilanthus tithymaloides is a shrub, on average 1.5-2 m tall, there is little branching. Leaves sessile (sessile) on thick (with a pencil) stems are arranged alternately, at each point of attachment of the leaf the stem tilts in the opposite direction and looks like a zigzag. Leaves from 3.5 to 7.5 cm in length, glabrous, dense, whole with a wavy edge, oblong, pointed at the end. The tops of the shoots are crowned with complex umbellate inflorescences. The flowers have bright red bracts, unevenly pointed at the end, it is believed that they look like pointed shoes, but rather like the beaks of tropical birds. The flowers themselves are very small - up to 1.3 mm in length, tubular, almost invisible in the bracts. Pedicels of male flowers are covered with hairs, female ones are naked.The original species of pedilanthus titimaloid has light green leaves. There are several subspecies - they differ in the shape and size of the leaves, for example, there are varieties with reddish or pink specks on the leaves, with a cream edging of the leaves. Milky sap from all parts of the plant is poisonous, irritating the mucous membranes, and sometimes contact dermatitis
Pedilanthus came to Europe in the 17th century, was grown as a garden plant, as a hedge, gradually became an indispensable plant for landscaping city streets. It distinguished itself by its extraordinary resistance to environmental pollution (toxicity of soils saturated with heavy metals), city greening services planted it along roads and around the perimeter of city dumps. Pedilanthus grows quickly, but this is also its minus - at home it needs to be renewed every 3-5 years, by cutting, rooting, and again planting several pieces in a pot.
Other types of milkweed
Pedilanthus has several development cycles, inhibits growth in extreme heat in summer and with natural cooling in autumn. Care is generally simple, except for the usual watering, annual transplantation, periodic pruning of the stems is required, although the pedilanthus is reluctant to branch.
Pedilanthus grows in summer at a normal temperature of 22-25 ° C, tolerates heat, but if you are late with watering, it quickly loses the lower leaves. From the end of October to February, with a decrease in illumination, coolness is necessary - the optimal temperature for wintering is about 12-14 ° C, on a warmed or glazed balcony you can keep it practically without watering until the temperature drops below + 5 ° C.
Like all euphorbia, pedilanthus loves a lot of sunlight, but after a dark winter, the spring sun should be taught gradually, creating a slight shade at midday for 1-2 weeks at the end of February-March. South-facing windows are suitable for pedilanthus, grows well in the southeast, worse in the southwest and sunny west - the leaves burn out somewhat when it is sunny and hot for many days. The north side is darkish, the plants are poorly developed, grow slowly.
At home, sooner or later the question arises where to put the pot - it ceases to fit on the windowsill. You can put it in the room on a table or bedside table next to the window, as close to the light as possible. Pay attention - with proper lighting, the leaves sit tightly on the petioles, the distance between them is about 2-4 cm, if there is little light, the shoots stretch out (although the variegation is practically not lost) and the distance between adjacent leaves reaches 5-7 cm. You can often see as the shoots lean towards the window. In this case, you need to rearrange the pot to a more sunny windowsill or arrange supplementary lighting with phyto-lamps.
Moderate in warm weather, the soil should have time to dry well before the next watering - touch it with your hand when the soil is dry from above in the upper 3-5 cm, wait another two days before watering. If the weather is hot, water the next day. In winter, with a decrease in temperature (or at the end of summer with a cold snap), watering is very rare, the soil should be completely dry for the next watering for several days. Pedilanthus tolerates overdrying more easily than overflow, and it is important to select a soil of good porosity.
During the growth period, feed pedilatnus with a complex fertilizer containing a wide range of trace elements - the need for such elements as boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc is especially high. At the beginning of the growing season, especially if you plan to move the pedilanthus to the balcony or outside, you can carry out foliar spraying with boric acid: 0.1 g of boric acid per 1 liter of water.
Pedilanthus is resistant to dry air, does not need spraying, but you can wear it to the shower once a week in a particularly hot time and wash off the dust. Watering and spraying with hot water (55 ° C) in the warm season stimulates growth well, but after that you need to dry the soil well.
Transplanting should be carried out annually to get rid of caked salinized soil. Composing the right soil is a very important technique for caring for your home pedilanthus. Do not forget that it is a succulent and grows naturally in highly drained (porous) soils. The approximate composition of the soil: 1 part of garden (greenhouse, turf) land, 1 part of leaf land, 2 parts of fine gravel (marble chips, pebbles) with a particle size of 3 to 5 mm, you can add a couple of spoons of brick chips and a few pieces of charcoal. Brick chips can be replaced with vermiculite. Good soil structure, when after watering it instantly passes water, evenly wetting, and dries quickly. Do not forget to make good drainage from large expanded clay or pieces of foam plastic to the bottom of the pot. The optimum soil acidity is pH 6.1-6.5.
Pedilanthus is easily propagated by cuttings, and if it is light and warm, then at any time of the year. To begin with, the cut cutting (about 10-12 cm) must be air-dried for 5-6 hours, and the cuts on the mother plant should be sprinkled with crushed coal. Then put the cuttings to root in any suitable substrate: slightly damp sand or vermiculite. Although there is experience of rooting in water (also after preliminary drying). In water, rooting can take a little longer than in vermiculite, and the water must be changed every two days to fresh, boiled. Do not place rooted cuttings in a sunny place - only in diffused light (east side or shading from the south). For a more effective plant, plant 4-5 cuttings in one pot.
Pedilanthus does not tolerate soil salinity, if salt deposits have formed on the surface of the soil (white or reddish crystals on lumps of earth), you need to remove the top 3-4 cm of soil, replace with fresh, check if you water it too often - salt effusion appears when the soil dries for a very long time; or the water in your area is too hard - go to watering with boiled water.
Pedilanthus has no special problems with pests and diseases. It rarely attracts ticks or scale insects (including the scale insect). Stem rot and root rot are only caused by too frequent watering, especially during a cold snap. Pedilanthus does not tolerate stagnation of water in the roots!
Stretching shoots from a lack of light can become a problem - it is not fatal, but decorativeness is lost. You may be surprised, but in natural conditions pedilanthuses are very unpresentable - they willingly bloom, but the bushes burn out in the heat in the sun, the stems in the lower part become bare. At home, the bushes also look beautiful only at a young age, they grow over time. The heating season has a bad effect on the decorative effect of the bush, leaves fly around from the hot air of the batteries with a lack of light.
Pedilanthus - benefit and harm
We grow pedilanthus as a beautiful ornamental plant, moreover, we can control the color of the leaves: if we provide the plant with daily temperature fluctuations of about 10 ° C (i.e. cold snap at night), a pink color will appear in the color of the leaves. But the leaves will turn pink or red only in a sunny place or bright light.
Pedilanthus is of aesthetic value; in regions with a warm climate (zones 9-13), it can perfectly fit into the decor of the garden in mixed borders and rock gardens. At home, its benefits for air purification are undoubted - a fairly large leaf mass filters the air we breathe, reducing the concentration of toxic excretions (phenolic group, etc.).
Milky juice of milkweed contains not only medicinal, but also toxic substances, including carcinogens.
Pedilanthus stems, leaves, seeds and roots are all saturated with toxic milky sap, which can cause skin allergies upon contact with it, especially if there are wounds, scratches or other damage. Therefore, wear gloves if necessary to avoid trouble when transplanting and pruning.
When swallowed (accidentally swallowed, chewing any parts of the plant), burning of the mucous membranes, severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea occurs. Consider such serious consequences if you have small children! The child may not even suffer from the fact that he puts a sheet in his mouth, he can break a twig, and the juice splashes and gets on the skin or eyes. If this happens, immediately wash the skin with warm water and soap and the eyes with plenty of running water and seek medical attention.
But pets instinctively sense that pedilanthus and any other spurge is an inedible plant and almost never encroach on its leaves.