Kochia is a very showy ornamental suffrutescent plant of the Chenopodiaceae family, known to the fans of flowers as “summer cypress” or “broom grass”. The genus includes up to 80 species growing in the wild in Australia, America, West Asia and Europe. Kochia Scoparia is the only species that is very popular. Formerly, brooms were made from dried stems, hence the name of the plant appeared.
Kochia – photo and history
The interest in kochia increased when the breeders brought new ornamental varieties with a compact fluffy crown of different colors: light green, dark-, yellow- and blue-green. The summer cypress settles in city parks and private properties as a decorative culture more often. It is especially beautiful in autumn when the foliage turns purple, orange or red and burgundy.
The plant has a regular spherical or elongated shape of a cypress. Over the summer it thrives growing up to 1 m high. The small narrow leaves resemble needles, but when you touch them, you immediately realize that they do not have anything in common. Kochia’s leaves are thin, delicate and soft. Single, small, plain, and not decorative flowers are located in the bases of leaves. They bloom in July. Brown tiny seeds of irregular rounded shape ripen in September.
How to cultivate and take care of kochia
Kochia is light-requiring, therefore it prefers a sunny location. It becomes less decorative in the deep shadows. It is thermophilic, so it can not stand the frost. After the first one it freezes instantly: leaves turn black, and all the beauty disappears. The plant prefers loose fertile soil, likes fertile humus garden soil, which should be neither acidic nor flooded. Kochia is relatively drought resistant. Regular abundant watering is needed only in the dry season. During the growing season it requires 3-4 dosings of combined mineral and organic fertilizers. Top-dressing is mandatory every 2 weeks.
Breeding is carried out with seeds, seedlings, and self-seeding. The seeds for seedlings are sown in February-May, and in the open garden soil – in April and May. The seeds remain viable for up to two years.
Bushes are easily sheared and shaped. They can be given the most bizarre and original form: egg-, pyramid-, column- or cube-shaped.
How to use kochia in the garden
Fluffy “little cypresses” are used to create low neat borders and hedges. Against this background many flowering plants, such as high bright yellow and orange marigolds (Tagetes), look beautiful.
Kochia is great as a solitary plant on the lawn, alpine hill, in rockeries among numerous stones. Fluffy bright green bushes look spectacular and harmonious on the edges of the paths when combined with multicolored low-growing annuals: ageratum, alyssum, petunia. “Summer cypress” can also be grown in a beautiful flowerpot on the balcony, but there it will not feel very comfortable.
Many florists use kochia to create their unique bouquets, delicate twigs impart remarkable lightness to the composition.
Thank You – with Olga Sahraoui. Click my flowers shop!