Spilantes - oil cress with curious heads of inflorescences
In this unusual plant, whose thick green pillow appeals to the best garden ornamental and deciduous crops, it is difficult at first glance to recognize signs of kinship with garden salads. But oil cress, or spilanthes, is an edible culture no less than ordinary watercress. However, you should not hurry to decorate the beds with it: it looks great in any company and in individual pots, the spilantes will bring new accents to the usual collection of flyers. Its inflorescences are similar to outlandish curious heads, and the color of greens contrasts beautifully with other plants. Yes, and grow oilcress is very simple.
Decorative, healing and edible - you cannot count the talents of spilanthes
Few plants from annuals with original flowering can compete with spilantes (Spilanthes) in the versatility of talents. This plant is valued for its medicinal properties, and for the inimitable, exotic flowering, and for the original dense foliage. We spilantes is better known by the name of butter, or Brazilian cress. This plant even today remains rare and sparsely distributed, but deserves a completely different fate.
As a decorative plant, only two types of spilantes are grown:
- actually Oil cress (Spilanthes acmella)
- Spilantes garden (Spilanthes oleracea), which today is re-qualified as Akmella garden (Acmella oleracea).
There is no difference in decorativeness, taste and medicinal qualities between the two species, but seeds of garden spilanthes are more common.
Despite the name, appealing to the modest in size garden watercress, spilantes forms lush, ruffled, large bushes. This summer tree reaches a height of 60 cm, and only in adverse conditions it is limited to a modest 30-40 cm. Creeping thin shoots are crowned with inflorescences and densely dotted with leaves that create a pillow effect. The leaves of the spilanthes are quite wide, ovate, sitting on long petioles, located opposite on shoots, whole along the edge.
Spilanthes flowers in shape are very similar to the eyeball. Ball heads with a slight bulge at the top, although they reach a diameter of no more than 3 cm, but against the background of dark foliage they seem very catchy and original. Like curious eyes, they rise on long pedicels, enliven the boring sod and transform the look of this yearbook beyond recognition. Spherical inflorescences consist of small grayish-yellow flowers, at the top small flowers of the “eye” are painted in burgundy.
The flowering period of spilanthes is as long as that of most garden summers. It begins in June-July and continues until the finish of the season, until the garden begins to fetter the first winter frosts.
Spilanthes leaves can be eaten like any other salad. The plant is endowed with good analgesic and soothing properties.
The use of spilanthes in ornamental gardening:
- to create original ampels;
- in pot gardens, to decorate the terrace, balcony, recreation areas;
- in the design of balcony and window boxes;
- as a contrasting plant in prefabricated container compositions;
- to fill voids and texture spots on flower beds;
- in mix design and decorative flower beds.
For open ground, spilantes are rarely used as a decorative plant, since the plant begins to spread in the soil, the bushes fall apart and the summer tree looks less impressive (unlike a garden where such a drawback is invisible). It is always advantageous to plant it in large groups, as a kind of groundcover for masking voids. But if it is possible to simply put several pots of spilantes in place, it is better to plant it in a container, not in the ground.
The best partners for oilcress: coleus, petunia, dichondra, marigolds.
Conditions necessary for spilanthes
Oil cress is a sun-loving plant. In shading, it not only does not bloom, but also does not form beautiful greens, and the content of essential oils and the palatability of leaves deteriorate significantly.
Spilanthes is undemanding to soils: any soil from the number of drained with a loose texture will suit them. When planting in pots for spilanthes, universal substrates are always chosen.
Spilanthes requirements for moisture and watering
One of the best qualities of spilanthes is drought tolerance. At the same time, the ability to tolerate drying of the substrate is not lost when grown in a pot culture. Pilantes does not need frequent watering, it is enough to carry out deep soil treatment procedures (in pots it is better to let the substrate dry out between the procedures almost completely).
The need for nutrition depends on whether you use spilantes only as an ornamental plant or eat its leaves for food. If you consider spilantes as one of the salads and love its leaves, then top dressing should be completely excluded from the care program, limited to nutritious soil and only one top dressing 2 weeks after planting the plant in pots or soil (it will be possible to collect leaves no earlier than 2 weeks). For purely decorative spilantes, two top dressings are performed:
- during the period of rapid growth, immediately after the completion of adaptation after transplantation;
- at the very beginning of the budding stage.
For spilantes, you can use only complex mineral fertilizers.
Pruning, picking leaves, the plant transfers easily and quickly restored.
Pest and disease control
Spilantes will not cause trouble with pests, and diseases bypass this plant even in adverse conditions. But its leaves are so tasty that even slugs cannot remain indifferent to them. The plant needs to arrange periodic inspections and at the first signs of eating green, it is better to start the fight right away - set traps and collect pests manually.
Propagation of spilanthes
Like all flyers, oil salad is propagated only by seeds. Seedlings of spilantes are still hard to find on sale, and, as a rule, the cultivation of this plant requires independent seedlings. Spilants are rarely sown directly into the open soil, because in this case it will bloom very late and it will not work to enjoy its bloom until the autumn cold. In addition, unlike most gardeners, spilanthes are not afraid of transplantation and adapt perfectly to new places.
Seeds for seedlings are sown in March or April. For oilcress, it is better to use a moist, loose substrate of any composition. Seeds are scattered over the surface and only slightly covered with a layer of sifted soil. They can germinate only with good lighting and air temperature from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.
Spilantes is not so afraid of any manipulations that seedlings can be dived after the release of the second true leaflet. Plants are immediately planted in individual containers and looked after as ordinary seedlings - without top dressing, with watering as the earth dries in pots.
Spilanthes can be planted in the soil only after the threat of recurrent frosts disappears at night. At the same time put potted spilantes in the garden and on the balcony. Plants take root quickly and do not need enhanced care.