Quisqualis indica: the flower of ambiguity

Belonging to the Combretaceae family, Quisqualis Indica is a climbing plant found in the tropical belt of Africa, America and Australia, but originally from Asia. It is an evergreen with a structure formed by many cylindrical branches, with climbing habit, which reaches 5 meters in length. The leaves, numerous and thick, are lanceolate, and of an intense green color. The inflorescences bloom in the axillary and terminal intersections of the branches, with corolla flowers with five petals, very fragrant, gathered in racemes. Their color varies over time, from white to red, passing through pink.


Despite being a plant of tropical origin, the Quisqualis adapts to mild climates, and partially shaded places, preferring the proximity of walls. If it is grown in pots, winter must be protected, and in any case never exposed to direct sunlight. For cultivation, moist soils with a good organic percentage should be preferred, such as peat mixed with garden soil, sand and pumice. Its water needs for soil cultivation is limited to the common rains, but if you go to an arid period, it is good to water it regularly, more or less once a week.
To promote a balanced growth, given its rapid propagation, the soil must be fertilized every 15-20 days with a product for green plants, or a granular with nitrogen and potassium, every three months. Fertilization is essential for growth and flowering. The propagation in nature occurs by seed, but in captivity it is done, in spring, using apical cuttings, even if the hope of success is little.
If you try to propagate it, the twigs must be treated with rooting hormones and buried in a mixture of sand and peat. Always in spring you can provide for the pruning to eliminate dry stems and promote flowering. In optimal conditions the Quisqualis manages to grow by almost 10cm a day, and consequently the mass of the roots increases considerably and at least one annual repotting must be provided, increasing the volume of available land. Once you have reached a large volume, you will have to change to replacing the soil with new and nutrient-rich material, keeping the pot.

Diseases and cures

The Quisqualis indica has problems with stagnations that cause root rot, and if the environment is too wet or rainy it is at risk of badly white and powdery mildew. The most aggressive parasites are the aphids and the cochineal, in our latitudes. Due to the fact that it is sensitive to fungi infestations, a spring treatment with broad-spectrum fungicidal products should be used, or specific biological anti-parasitic interventions. To avoid the risk of rotting, the saucer must be periodically emptied. The plant grows rapidly and especially in the first years it needs guardians to avoid the risk of the stems breaking.


The plant was studied by the Scottish surgeon Dr. John Ivor Murray who approached this climber in China, hearing stories about the use of his seeds as a remedy for diarrhea and intestinal worms. In the language of flowers it represents duplicity and ambiguity. because of the color that changes over time.

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