Ixora is a large genus of flowering plants native to the Asian tropics. At least 400 species have been identified in this genus, with a handful being popular for cultivation. These plants grow in USDA zones 10 and 11, preferring tropical to subtropical climate conditions. People outside the growing range can cultivate Ixora in the greenhouse, if they are able to create tropical conditions. Nurseries and garden stores in tropical areas usually carry at least one cultivar of Ixora, and they can also order specialty plants by request.
Depending on the cultivar, Ixora can be shrub-like to tree-like, with oval, leathery leaves which are glossy and dark green when the plant is healthy, although some cultivars have variegated foliage. The flowers grow in small clusters, and come in an array of colors including red, pink, and orange. Some common names for Ixora include: Flame of the Woods, West Indian Jasmine, and Jungle Flame, referencing the vivid colors on the flowers.
These plants like acidic soil, preferring a pH around 5. In more alkaline soils, they will require careful management, and they can develop nutritional deficiencies which will cause yellow spotting to appear on the leaves. Ixoras grow best in full sun as long as they have some shade during the hottest part of the day, and they will bloom year round, with flower production peaking in the warm months of the year. The plants like to be watered regularly, but not kept wet.
This relative of gardenias and coffee can be used in a number of ways in the garden. Some people like Ixora for borders and hedges, while others grow the plants massed in a flower bed, or cultivate standalone shrubs as specimen plants. Ixora should not be grown too close to concrete, which will turn the soil alkaline, and while it can be paired with other plants, it is important to select plants which also enjoy acidic conditions.
Dwarf Ixora cultivars are available for people who would like to work with the plant on a smaller scale, and some are even used in bonsai. Ixora care is generally easy and straightforward as long as the plants have the right soil conditions. Pruning can take place in the early spring, before the plant starts to put out new growth. When pruning, gardeners should be careful about removing the tips of leaf clusters, as this will inhibit the growth of flowers later in the year.