What are those shrubs with orange flowers around Orlando right now? These are ixora hedges!
Easy to ignore most of the year, this is the time of year when they burst with deep orange flowers and it seems everyone is asking for the name of this plant. Ixora, Ixora coccinea, is native to southeast Asia. It’s evergreen leaves make it an excellent hedge plant, but the real show for ixora hedges is when they bloom.
There are many different cultivars of ixora, with a wide range of colors from yellow to soft pink to the vibrant orange we see most often. Most common is ‘Maui’ the form shown here. The leaves tend to be smaller, more like a boxwood when hedged. They are not fast growing plants, so it will take some time for these to fill in to full ixora hedges.
The University of Florida IFAS describes the common ixora cultivars:
- Maui – first discovered in Hawaii, Maui is thought to have a bit more cold tolerance than other Ixora varieties. The four inch wide flower clusters are deep orange-red when closed, but lighten a bit when open.
- Nora Grant – this popular hybrid with pinkish-red colored flower clusters is known for its versatility and durability. Most of the time it is sheared to a height of three to four feet, but if given enough room can grow into tall screening hedge that will rarely require additional pruning.
- Petite varieties are miniature forms from a different species, Ixora taiwanenesis. They may have red, pink or yellow flower colors.
- Sunset – a yellow flowered variety that has just a touch of orange red in its open flowers.
- SuperKing is an older cultivar with a deep red flower color and large flower clusters.
Ixora is a fairly easy plant to grow, best in full sun but can handle just a touch of shade. These plants are heavy feeders, so regular applications of fertilizer will help keep leaves dark green with more blooms.
Some plants fail to flower when hedged or trimmed constantly; their developing flowers on the ends of the branches are trimmed off too often to develop. Ixora hedges are the exception to this rule because flowers form on older growth rather than the ends of new branches. It is always a good idea to keep the mature size of the plant in mind, but knowing that trimming will not eliminate all of the flowers is certainly a plus.
Perhaps its time to consider adding an ixora hedge to your landscape? If you want to achieve a formal look with a “Florida flair” this just may be the plant for you!