The iresine are beautiful perennial, semi-shrubby plants, originating in tropical America; they have a splendid strongly colored foliage, which makes them excellent leaf plants; summer flowering is generally not very interesting, and it is generally prevented by trimming the small branches, to prevent the plant from tending to empty in the lower part, near the stem. In the nursery we generally find two species, Iresine Herbstii, with roundish leaves, and Iresine lindenii, with sharp leaves, both with a purple or red color, with surprisingly vivid veins, almost fuchsia color; very widespread too Iresine Herbstii aureoreticulata, with always fuchsia veins, and green and yellow leaves, definitely very showy. It is a plant of easy cultivation, which can be grown in pots or in the open ground, either alone or as an accompaniment to other plants; it fears the cold, and therefore it is grown as an annual, or in autumn it must be repaired in the apartment, where it adapts without problems if the climate is hot and if it is placed in a sufficiently bright area. Unfortunately, over the years, the iresines tend to become less and less compact and the color loses its luster, which is why we tend to replace them every year, or when spring or autumn arrives, numerous cuttings are practiced by the mother plant, in order to obtain new plants for the following summer, to be put also wanting in the vases with geraniums.
The cultivation is very simple, they are plants that adapt well to the spring and summer climate present in Italy; they should be planted in a good, rich and dissolved soil, very well drained; they do not need large containers, and can also be placed in boxes together with geraniums or surfines, or in single pots or in the open ground. The only request they have is a strong brightness, they must be placed in an area where they can enjoy at least a few hours of direct sunlight, otherwise they lose their bright colors, and therefore also a large part of their interest. They do not have a very rapid development, but to keep them dense and compact it is convenient to periodically prune the tips of the branches, in order to stimulate the development of new, increasingly brightly colored buds. They do not fear the summer heat, but they do not like drought, especially if prolonged, and therefore they must be watered regularly, waiting for the soil to dry between two waterings; if left for a long time without water they tend to wither, but a single supply of watering is enough to see them return turgid and healthy. Every 12-15 days, from March to September, it is advisable to provide a good fertilizer for green plants, mixed with the water used for watering.
As we said before, these plants do not like cold, and do not tolerate temperatures below 10 ° C, so when autumn arrives they must be sheltered at home, or rather in a slightly heated stairwell or tempered greenhouse; they can easily survive winter in the apartment, but it is essential to find them in a very bright position, perhaps on the window sill, while avoiding that they are close to direct sources of heat, or in areas subject to cold air blows. In winter we water only sporadically, avoiding to excessively wet the soil, but also to leave it completely dry for long weeks; avoid fertilizing until spring. To have a healthy and well-developed plant, it is advisable, in the apartment, to vaporize the hair at least once a week, using demineralized water.
How to propagate the resin
These plants propagate with great ease by cuttings, in fact it is easy to find them at low prices in the nursery in spring, so often they simply replace the old plants left on the terrace, with new lush and colorful specimens; if we want to keep an iresine, for example because it has a particularly lively color, we can take cuttings; This operation is practiced in autumn, or even in spring; one operates by removing the tips of the branches, and cutting them at the base in oblique, all the leaves are raised, leaving only one or two apical leaves, and then the cutting is immersed in the rooting hormone; the cuttings so prepared are buried in a good compound consisting of universal soil, mixed with little sand, to make it more draining. The cuttings tray should be kept in a warm, bright place with temperatures above 15 ° C; and watered regularly, until the cuttings show that they have taken root producing new shoots. The young seedlings must therefore be placed in a single container, in a well-lit position, and in a warm climate, until they can be moved outdoors. These plants are difficult to grow from seed, mainly because in general and the shoots are trimmed and in this way the plant tends not to bloom.
A mixed vase
Iresines, rather than as single plants, are often used in mixed plant packages, where they give an exotic accent, thanks to the color of their leaves. Generally, placed in a mixed pot of houseplants, they tend not to survive, because they generally do not like the dry climate present in the home. Therefore, if they give us a composition consisting of ferns and iresines, or orchids and iresines, it is advisable to undo the vase, and repot every single plant by itself, in order to cultivate it in the most appropriate way. Instead, they are definitely suitable in mixed pots to be placed on the terrace in spring. These plants love a warm climate, and sunny locations, along with regular watering; we can then position them with abutilon, geraniums, surfinie, lobelia; but they are also very suitable in the flowerbeds of annuals, where their bright color will make them the master, between agerati and marigolds.
When we prepare a vase of mixed flowers, we often choose all the plants we like, and position them together; remember, however, that when preparing a vase that contains more plants, it is important that these have similar cultural needs, or otherwise some of them will suffer excessively, becoming ill; and sometimes, a disease is easily transmitted from one plant to the next.
In addition to the cultivation requirements, it is good to also observe the aesthetic appearance of the vessels; the iresine have a strongly pink or purple color, for this reason it would be appropriate to accompany them to plants with similar gradations of colors, then to pink geraniums, or bright pink surfinie. Or we can accompany them, by contrast, to plants with yellow, blue or orange flowers, such as lobelias, marigolds, yellow hibiscus.