Kalahari Christmas Tree
- Dichrostachys cinerea : Kalahari Christmas Tree
- Family : Fabaceae
- Origin : Southern Africa
- Height in its natural environment : 8m
- Hardiness : -9°C
- Colour of the flower : Pink and yellow
Height : about 5 to 20 cm (depending on seasons)
Description of the plant
Fun and useful, it gives rise to a ton of nicknames: from “kéké”, to “marabout”, passing by “Chinese lantern”, “acacia from Santo Domingo”, to end up in “Kalahari Christmas tree”, it's up to you to find yours!
Its flowers are particularly noteworthy, they give the impression that two completely different parts have been brought together, with their long yellow brushes topped with shaggy pink hair! This shrub is spectacular when in bloom, due to the multitude of extravagant flowers it can carry.
And this kéké also knows how to be useful: it can marabout you if you chew its roots and its leaves, thus creating a local anesthetic which is very helpful in the event of bites or stings for example! Its flowers are a source of honey, its bark is suitable for making ropes and twine, its roots produce fiber that can be transformed into baskets, its wood can be used for tools and for heating. Rustic medicinal plant, it is widely used in medicine.
Hardy you can enjoy its beauty in your graden almost all over Europe
In short, it's good to have a keké with you!
Also known as : Sicklebush, Bell mimosa, Chinese lantern tree
When you receive your plant, repot it in a pot slightly larger than the bucket, which must be well pierced. Avoid pot covers which prevent residual water from draining away and encourage fungal diseases. Choose a fine potting soil, ideally with added perlite or sand to lighten the substrate (do not use garden soil or acidic soil such as heather). Then plan two repottings per year (spring and autumn), gradually increasing the size of the pot and adapting it to the size of the root network (the roots must have room, but not too much as the plant must be able to dry out its substrate between waterings). This avoids having to add fertilizer, which always risks burning the fragile roots of the plants and making the plant wither as soon as the fertilizer is stopped.
Moderate watering: watering should be copious (the whole root ball should be wet), but wait until the substrate has dried deeply before watering again (you can stick your finger in the soil: as long as you feel moisture, do not water). Your plant will recover better from a lack of water than from an excess of water. Always water at the base of the plant, and do not mist it, because stagnant water in the armpit of the leaves favors cryptogamic diseases. If your atmosphere is too dry, put bowls of water nearby (above radiators for example), so that evaporation humidifies the air.
For an indoor planting
Your plant is best taken out in summer, full sun is perfect for it. It should be brought indoors in winter, and ideally placed in a warm and luminous place, like in a veranda or behind a window. It fears excessive humidity when temperatures are low, so avoid cold rooms. Attention: do not take it out and bring it in all the time, it should be taken out in good weather, then brought in when the cold weather arrives, because plants adapt their foliage to their environment, which should not constantly change. It often happens that plants lose their foliage when they are taken out and/or put in, don't worry, your plant will adapt and will emit its new foliage accordingly.
For an outdoor planting
If your climate allows it, you will be able to plant your plant in full ground, a full sun is recommended. We advise you however to cultivate it in pot the first year and to make it spend the first winter in the heat, in order to strengthen it well. Plant it between the end of the risk of frost (generally at the beginning of May) and the end of August, in a soil which must be light and draining; do not hesitate to add sand and fine potting soil if necessary. Be careful with the minimum temperatures indicated: they are given for a mature plant, and you have to take into account the wind which accentuates the cold felt, as well as the water retention capacity of your soil, which can rot the roots if it is not sufficiently draining. So take a little safety margin!
This plant is very easy to prune, which will make it branch out.
Our plants are grown naturally, without chemical fertilizers, so we advise you to repot them regularly (twice a year) rather than adding fertilizer.
In case of pest attack
If your plants are under attack by aphids or other pests, the best way to control them is by hand. Change their soil, remove as many undesirables as possible by hand and then shower your plants with a strong stream of water to eliminate any eggs that may be present. Spray them (insist on the underside of the leaves) with liquid black soap diluted in water. Repeat the operation several times at a few days interval. Take them outside in good weather, rain, sun and wind will kill most of the aggressors!
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