Classification, origin and description
Common name: Spathiphyllum.
Etymology: from the Greek "spatha", spathe and "phyllon", leaf due to the shape, similar to a leaf, which has the spathe of the inflorescence.
provenance: tropical areas of America.
Genre description: includes 36 species of plants, rhizomatous, evergreen, perennial, acauli (or with very short stem), which have oval or elongated leaves, with pointed apex, shiny, dark green, carried by a long petiole that originates directly from the rhizome or from a short stem. The flowers, hermaphrodite and all fertile, are white, small in size and inserted on an erect spadix, with a short stipule (sometimes sessile). A white and concave membranous spathe, welded to the base of the inflorescence, envelops the spadix and continues to grow even after flowering, being persistent. They are plants suitable for growing in a greenhouse or apartment.
Spathiphyllum wallisi (photo website)
Species and varieties
Spathiphyllum blandum: this species has elliptical and elongated leaves, carried by long petioles. The spathe is 15 cm long. and green in color much lighter than that of the leaves.
Spathiphyllum cannaefolium o Anthurium dechardii: it has leaves even 40 cm long, carried by petioles of the same length. The spathe has the upper white page and the lower green page.
Spathiphyllum x "Mauna Loa": this horticultural hybrid obtained from S. wallisi has leaves 20-25 cm long. carried by petioles of equal length. In May it produces flowers carried by a 40-50 cm stem. and characterized by a white spathe 10-15 cm long. It reaches a height of 60 cm.
Spathiphyllum wallisi: native to Venezuela and Colombia, this rhizomatous and perennial species has persistent leaves, carried by long petioles that originate directly from the rhizome, from the leathery, oblong or lanceolate blade, sharp, shiny, dark green in color and with a marked central vein. The inflorescence, carried by 20-25 cm long stems. which emerge from the center of the plant, is made up of a spadix, 4 cm long, on which white or cream yellow flowers are inserted, hermaphrodites and all fertile (with or without stipules), wrapped in a white spathe, 8-10 long cm., concave and cuspidated, which becomes green as it ages. The flowering cycle lasts a month or a little longer and is repeated twice a year: in late spring and autumn. The type species has fairly small dimensions, not exceeding 20-25 cm. in height. There are various varieties and hybrids on the market, such as S. x "Mauna Loa", described above.
Spathiphyllum wallisi (photo website)
Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions
Temperature: the minimum winter temperature must not be lower than 10-12 ° C (16-18 ° C for S wallisi and S. x "Mauna Loa").
Light: good, but widespread, with the exception of direct sunlight. The lighting must be particularly intense during the flowering period; in other periods it may be even more moderate.
Watering and environmental humidity: during the summer period it is necessary to water and spray the leaves frequently. To keep the atmospheric humidity level high, the pots can be placed on bowls containing pebbles kept wet. In autumn-winter the watering will have to be reduced, without ever allowing the substrate to dry completely, while it will be useful to continue spraying the foliage.
Substrate: a soil-based mixture of leaves and peat, with the addition of sand and charcoal grits, to counteract any putrefaction caused by humidity.
Special fertilizations and tricks: they are repotted annually in April by increasing the diameter of the containers, until they reach the size of 15 cm. about (S. x “Mauna Loa” is grown in pots up to 20 cm wide). Once the maximum size is reached it will be sufficient to replace the surface layer of 2-3 cm. with fresh compote. Administer liquid fertilizer every 10-15 days, from early spring to late autumn.
New specimens can be obtained by division of the rhizomes, at the time of spring repotting, taking care that each portion has at least 2-3 leaves. The plants thus obtained require a settling period to be spent in a humid environment, in the shade and at 21 ° C until they take root.
Diseases, pests and adversities
- Withered and wilted leaves: insufficient watering.
- Leaves with yellowed margins, which are covered with spots: insufficient fertilizations.
- Cotton mealy bugs: can attack plants, especially in hot and dry climates. You have to remove them, treat the plant with an anticoccidic product and raise the humidity level (the spraying and the washing of the leaves allow to eliminate the cochineals in the larval state). As an alternative to the chemical, the affected parts can be rubbed with a cotton swab wet with water and alcohol.