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What is Iochroma?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2016
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Iochroma is a plant genus that is part of the Solanaceae family. It contains about 24 species of flowering shrubs and small trees that are native to South America. Most are evergreen plants that have trumpet-shaped flowers which blossom in clusters. These tropical plants are usually grown in greenhouses or indoors in containers. Certain pests are attracted to the plants in the Iochroma genus, including the red spider mite and the whitefly.

The genus name is a Greek word that means "violet-colored," which describes the flower color of some of the species. Many of the species are known by other names. For example, Iochroma australis is commonly known as blue angel trumpet, and Iochroma fuchsioides is known as red Iochroma.

Nearly all the plants in this genus are located in tropical regions of South America. I. lehmannii is cultivated in Ecuador, and I. australis occupies the forests of Argentina. I. fuchsioides is found in Colombia.

The plants in this genus are coveted for their trumpet shaped flowers. Depending on the species, the flower is purple, blue, red, yellow, or white. The blooms grow roughly 2 inches (5 cm) in length and hang upside down from the branch. Most are sweet smelling and usually attract hummingbirds. The ground beneath the shrub is often covered with hundreds of vibrantly colored fallen flowers.

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Typically, the shrub itself can grow up to 13 feet (4 m) in height, and it spreads to a similar width. I. cyaneum features shiny green leaves that are grayish on the bottom. This species is evergreen, meaning the leaves remain on the shrub throughout the year.

Usually, plants of this genus grow best in well-draining, fertile soil. I. cyaneum can tolerate loamy and sandy soil that is both alkaline and acidic. This plant requires full sunlight and shelter from the wind. If this species is grown in a greenhouse, it requires adequate compost and filtered light.

The red spider mite is a common pest that infests plants in the Iochroma genus. It feeds on the leaves and produces a pale molting on the leaf surface. If the infestation is heavy, the webbing is easily noticeable among the branches. The leaves usually dry up, fade in color, and drop.

Another common problem with growing Iochroma plants is dealing with whitefly infestation. Whiteflies are tiny white insects with wings. They typically jump from one leaf to another. Usually, the underside of the leaves are covered with white scales and a sticky secretion that attracts fungal spores.

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