Probably the main factor affecting the popularity of heliotrope in Europe and the world, was not the appearance, but its flavor: bright, strong, with clearly visible notes of vanilla. Essential oil, pulled out from the flowers of the heliotrope, in the 17-18 centuries. actively used to create perfume compositions, and today it can be found in the same conditions. However, growing a heliotrope flower is not as easy as it should be.
Features of the plant
This amazing perennial can be a semi-shrub, as well as an ordinary herbaceous flowering plant, whose natural habitat is tropical and subtropical. Due to this origin, heliotrope is in dire need of warmth and moisture: these are the main components of caring for it, without which it is impossible to grow a beautiful, living bush. The name of the flower is easily explained if you observe it during the day: like the sunflower, better known to the inhabitants of the middle belt, the heliotrope is always turned to the sun, changing its direction from east to west every day. And, accordingly, his flowers are closed at the moment when the sun leaves the sky.
The heliotrope flowers themselves are small, but on the bush they are collected in lush inflorescences up to 18–20 cm wide, which cover the plant with “caps”. The main gamma is blue-violet, of varying degrees of saturation and darkness. Rare varieties of heliotrope have white flowers, and some are diluted with purple-violet hues. Depending on the type and variety, plants can reach up to 2 m in height or stop at a level of 30-40 cm, which is typical of its grassy options. The leaves are medium-sized, ovate, with no pronounced gloss over the surface, with a small pile, arranged alternately along the stem, sitting on short petioles. Seeds of heliotrope ripen in boxes-nuts, which after ripening are divided into 4 parts. Although the box for 1 g accounts for up to 1.5 thousand seeds, however, in order to grow new heliotrope flowers out of them, you need to put a lot of effort. Independently, they practically do not sow, because they do not have time to mature in a sharply continental climate.
Heliotrope: growing seedlings from seed (with photo)
For a long time, despite its popularity, heliotrope was practically not grown in gardens, since its reproduction represented a whole series of difficulties, starting with the fact that this could be done only by grafting. A lot of time passed before in Europe, and after in other countries, heliotrope varieties appeared that could be sown and wait for their germination.
Since heliotrope is a tropical plant, at the time of its growing, seedlings need to create a humid and warm climate. To this end, the soil in which the seeds were placed without penetration is carefully moistened with a spray bottle, and the container is immediately covered with glass, and then packed in a plastic bag that needs to be tied. It is permissible to open it only 1-2 times a day to moisten the ground. Then the seedlings are retracted in the penumbra, but the heater is turned on next to it: the air temperature should not fall below 24-25 degrees, and it can be reduced to 21-22 degrees for 12-14 days after planting. In such conditions, seedlings that appear no earlier than the 21st day must live another 5-7 days before the film can be removed, but not the glass, and the containers with the heliotrope seedling are moved to diffused light. Ideally, these should be east or west window sills.
Watering the heliotrope flowers is allowed only with soft water at room temperature, some gardeners even boil it for this and defend. Watering is not frequent, but the ground should be constantly wet, elastic, but without stagnation of water, therefore, it is mainly sprayed. Heliotrope is easy to live on the soil, not spoiled by nutrients, but watering and light it needs in a large size. In warm seasons, pots with strong seedlings may even live on an unglazed balcony, but most of the time they stay on the window sills so that they receive enough light. In winter, the heliotrope may require additional lighting with a standard 60-80 W daytime lamp.
In the cultivation of heliotrope there is an important point - this is pinching. A number of gardeners consider it useless, but without permanent removal of unnecessary cuttings and inflorescences, you risk getting a much overgrown green bush with less flowering than one would like. In addition, you can give heliotrope any shape, removing as many stems and branches as needed. And depending on the bush's splendor, the distance between the specimens will be chosen, but it is better not to plant heliotrope flowers closer than 30 cm to each other.
How to grow heliotrope "Sea Breeze"?
Among all varieties of heliotrope "Sea Breeze" is recognized as the most unpretentious, as far as it can be applied to this flower. Shrubs of this variety hardly reach up to 45 cm in height, however, due to the fact that the plant can be molded, they can look like small ornamental trees, if you remove the lower branches and round the "crown". The fragrance of the Sea Breeze is more floral than vanilla, the petals have a bright blue color, the inflorescences are dense, 10-12 cm wide, and close to each other, which allows the bush to get a volumetric cap at the time of flowering.
Growing the heliotrope "Sea Breeze" has traditionally been recommended to produce in an apartment or on a balcony, although in the southern regions it can even survive the winter, if the bushes cut off in front of the cold weather can be covered with branches and covering materials. However, still as a perennial "Sea Breeze" it grows much better and develops in the house than on the street. The vegetative period also begins in June, the heliotrope of this variety blooms as early as the first year of life.
Among the features of its cultivation is an earlier sowing, which begins in February, if the flower is in the apartment, and in April, if it is prepared for open ground. The soil is composed of peat, garden soil and sand, without the participation of compost, and must be moistened. At the same time, it is necessary to moisten the seeds themselves, which are best to withstand 2-3 hours in any growth stimulator, and then not to dry. Due to their small size and lightness, the seeds are spread over the surface, pressed down with a wooden or plastic rectangle and not covered with earth. Some gardeners recommend mixing heliotrope seeds with whole-grain river sand.
The container must be tightened with a film and placed in a dark, but warm place. In February-March, zones near radiators are perfectly suitable for this, in April, it may be necessary to turn on the heater if the heating is already turned off. The heliotrope seedling requires keeping the air temperature at the level of 20 degrees until the sprouts hatch, and after that - at the level of 17-18 degrees until the pick. Taking into account the uneven germination of seeds, thinning of seedlings will be required in any case; therefore, it does not make sense to sow heliotrope immediately in large pots.
At home, the heliotrope flower is the easiest to grow: it will easily survive the winter and will be able to fully justify its perennial title, without losing its flowering intensity. The only reason for which heliotropes are most often placed on balconies or garden plots is their bright, rich aroma, which is very difficult to maintain in closed rooms. In addition, some species of plants - European and pubescent - have toxic substances in the green, resulting in undesirable in homes where there are children and animals.