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Asclepias curassavica: the budgie plant

Photo by Elena Odareeva
Photo by Elena Odareeva

 

Among the various species of plants belonging to the Apocynaceae family, worthy of mention is the one with the botanical name Asclepias curassavica. Specifically, it is a herbaceous and perennial specimen that has its origins in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America. Among other things, this plant grows from June to October with a height between 30 and 90 centimeters and has red-orange flowers with a yellow cap. Asclepias curassavica has a much longer flowering period than the winter-resistant perennial, and typically grows as a shrub on erect stems covered with pointed, opposite and lanceolate leaves. Their color is medium green at times with white central ribs. The flowers, on the other hand, are very showy with five sepals and as many lobes that appear in rounded axillary clusters from late spring to early summer. On the sidelines, it should also be added that the flowers are followed by long and narrow pods that open when ripe, releasing seeds with a silky tail due to wind dispersal.

The cultivation of Asclepias curassavica

The flowers of Asclepias curassavica are very resistant to winter so much so that in some places around the world it is grown as an annual plant. Having said that, it should also be added that this specimen is planted every year from seed in pots for a period of 8-10 weeks before the date of spring frost. Asclepias curassavica grows best in light, rich, uniformly moist, well-drained soils and in full sun, although it tolerates penumbra well. These plants are known to be weeds in their native tropical habitats and in warm winter areas like the Deep South, where they self-seed quite abundantly. However, they can be cut and pruned indoors in bright and sunny places during the winter. This shows that it can also be grown as an indoor plant in full sun, with regular watering during the growing season and with reduced irrigation in a cool place in winter.

Diseases and treatments

Growing Asclepias curassavica at home or in a garden is very easy, thanks above all to the very few difficulties associated with insects or serious diseases. The only real problem is that being a bit grassy, it can spread like patches due to self-seeding. The aphids are in any case to be kept under control as well as the possible presence of sooty mold that can develop precisely because of the aforementioned insects must be monitored. On the sidelines, the advice in this regard is to wear gloves when working with these plants, as the milky sap is poisonous if ingested it can be toxic to the skin. Organic pesticides available in nurseries and on the best online stores can prove useful in avoiding the aforementioned problems.

Curiosity

The name of the aforementioned plant honors the Greek god Asklepios or that of medicine, while the word curassavica means Curacao or an island of the Dutch Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea. From a strictly aesthetic point of view it is important to know that the leaves and flowers of this plant are very attractive and therefore ideal for decorating flower beds, borders, cottages, lawns and gardens. Finally, it should be added that the flowers can also be cut and displayed at home in a centerpiece precisely because of their undisputed beauty and color tone.

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