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Costus speciosus is a medium-sized rhizomatous shrub, native to southern Asia; develops erect stems, slightly fleshy, woody at the base, which bear long thick and leathery, oval, sessile leaves, dark green, glossy, arranged in a spiral along the stem; every single rhizome can produce 4-5 drums. In late summer at the apex of the stems, a stubby cob is produced, made of semi-woody bracts, dark red, among the bracts bloom flowers of cream white, with a crumpled, funnel-shaped appearance. The flowers are followed by small rosy berries, which contain a single dark seed. Generally the cob of bracts remains on the plant for a long time even after flowering. The type species can reach conspicuous dimensions, up to 100-150 m in height, widening equally; there are numerous cultivars, less resistant to cold and smaller sizes, which do not exceed 40-50 cm in height. Costus can be used as garden plants, but more commonly in Italy they are sold as houseplants.
To grow our plants to the fullest, we need to know what the specific cultivation needs of each are. An inappropriate position for our plant could in fact cause growth difficulties, dry leaves or yellowing and much more. So let's see together what is the ideal exposure for our costus.
Costus speciosus plants prefer shaded, or semi-shady, positions, although they can receive direct sunlight a few hours a day without damage. The costus speciosus do not fear the cold, and can be grown in the garden, even bearing very intense frosts; in fact the low temperatures cause the plant to dry out, which will revive the following spring; like apartment plants, on the other hand, they behave like evergreens; some cultivars fear the cold, so they are cultivated only in a container.
The plants grown in the apartment need regular and abundant watering. It is important to always avoid leaving stagnant water in the saucer; the plants cultivated in the garden are watered from March to October, keeping the soil slightly humid, the more they are in a sunny position and the greater the frequency of watering. During the winter months it is not necessary to water the plants, since if left outdoors they tend to lose the aerial part.
The Costus speciosus are cultivated in soft and deep soil, rich in organic matter; It is very important that the soil can slightly maintain moisture but at the same time let the water flow freely. Generally, a good universal soil is used, mixed with leaf soil and a good amount of sand.
The reproduction of the plant can take place by seed, in spring; It is preferable to practice, after flowering, the division of the rhizomes, trying to keep some well-developed roots for each portion practiced.
Costus speciosus: Pests and diseases
These plants tend not to be attacked by pests or diseases; excessive watering can cause the development of root rot.