Kokkoloba berry (Coccoloba uvifera) - not yet as popular a houseplant as it deserves. The rarity of the plant is explained by a lack of information about it, low popularization, and not by difficulties in keeping. It is not part of the usual range of Dutch plants and is only available from amateur growers.
This is a short evergreen tree from the genus Kokkoloba (Coccoloba)belonging to the Buckwheat family (Polygonaceae)... It grows on the coastal tropical beaches of America and the Caribbean. The plant is very plastic, depending on the conditions, it can grow single-stemmed and reach a height of 15-17 m, but more often it grows as a multi-stemmed lush tree no higher than 8 m. The bark is smooth, brownish-yellowish. The leaves are whole, large, up to 20-25 cm in diameter, shiny, dense, leathery, broadly ovate. In good light, pinkish-red veins appear on the leaves, which makes the tree very elegant. Young leaves, when exposed to a bronze hue, later turn olive green, old leaves sometimes turn completely red.
The plant is dioecious, has male and female specimens. Small creamy, very fragrant flowers are collected in large racemose inflorescences. Kokkoloba is a good honey plant. After pollination by bees on female specimens, medium-sized edible fruits with a diameter of about 2 cm are tied with a large seed surrounded by a thin layer of nutmeg-flavored pulp. When ripe, the fruit turns purple-violet. Growing on sea beaches and clusters of fruits, similar to grape bunches, gave it a second very common name - Sea Grape (Seagrape).
The fruits are very loved by children and birds. They are used to make jellies, jams and wine. The juice is suitable for making dyes and tanning leather. Extracts from the bark are used to treat throat ailments, and the roots are used to treat dysentery. Furniture is made from strong and beautiful wood of old trees. Resistance to soil salinity, good tolerance to strong winds, bright sun and the tree's susceptibility to shearing formation have made the coccoloba very popular for landscaping tropical beaches and coastal cities.
Coccoloba at home
Kokkoloba berry-bearing is quite unpretentious, according to the conditions of detention, it can be compared with ficuses.
Lighting bright, sunlight preferred. Only with such lighting will all the decorativeness of the plant manifest itself, it will grow densely, with small internodes and large leaves, on which reddish veins will clearly appear. There is a danger of overheating the plant through the glass in the bright summer sun, to avoid this, provide a good air flow near the plant. In good light, the growth rate of the coccoloba is fast, literally in a few years you can grow a tree to the ceiling, but this will not be a problem, since the plant is perfectly formed by cutting. Kokkoloba can stand in a more shaded place, but at the same time it will practically stop growing. In winter, additional lighting is desirable.
Content temperature in summer about + 25 ° C, in winter with low illumination it can be lowered to + 16 + 18 ° C so that the plant does not deplete. It can tolerate short-term low positive temperatures, but at temperatures below 0 degrees, the plant dies.
Watering plentiful in summer, moderate in winter. An adult plant can survive a small and short drought, but young plants should not dry out. At the same time, roots should not be allowed to stick. Water from above with warm, settled water after the top layer of soil has dried and do not leave water in the pan.
Air humidity... Kokkoloba fully tolerates living conditions, although it prefers high humidity.Spraying the leaves in hot weather and during the winter heating season in a warm room will help the plant cope with adverse conditions.
Fertilizers (universal complex with trace elements) is introduced from spring to autumn according to the instructions, in winter, subject to additional lighting, in a half dose. In the absence of backlighting in winter, the temperature of the content should be reduced and the feeding should be canceled.
Transplants and soil composition... A young plant is transplanted by the method of careful transshipment every year in spring or early summer, but on condition that the roots have mastered the volume of the soil well and are tightly braided with a lump. An adult plant is reloaded every few years. Once every 3-6 months, you can carefully change the topsoil to a fresh one. As a soil, a ready-made, commercially available universal substrate for indoor plants is suitable. For better drainage of the soil throughout the volume, it is advisable to add about ¼ of the volume of perlite to it. It is better to grow young plants in loose peat substrates, as they grow in fresh soil during transshipment, you can add sod land, increasing its share from year to year.
Read more about the transplant - in the article Transplanting indoor plants.
Flowering and fruiting at home, it occurs extremely rarely, the reason may be a lack of light in the room. For fruit setting, the simultaneous flowering of the male and female specimens is necessary.
Reproduction possibly by sowing seeds and cuttings. The seeds should be fresh, preferably directly from the fruit, as they quickly lose their germination during storage. Apical cuttings with 4-5 leaves are taken for vegetative propagation. It takes about a month to root in a greenhouse using Kornevin. Ready-made peat tablets with a diameter of about 4 cm can be used as a substrate.
More details about grafting - in the article Cutting indoor plants at home.
Pests and diseases... Coccoloba, thanks to its tough leathery leaves, is quite resistant to spider mites. But with constant overdrying, lack of light, poor air ventilation, the plant weakens and can be attacked by this pest. It is also affected by mealybugs, scale insects, aphids.
About pest control measures - in the article Houseplant pests and control measures.
Photo by the author