PSEUDOPANAX LESSONII ‘GOLD SPLASH’
This unusual member of the Araliaceae family is an attractive and stately plant for the cool room or conservatory: it can be used as a backdrop to less statuesque plants or as a specimen plant in its own right. Pseudopanax lessonii is a shrub or small tree from New Zealand and, like most ‘trees’ grown in the home, is restricted by container culture to about half the size (6m/20ft) attained in the wild. It is happy to be pruned as necessary and is well clothed with foliage right down to the base: new growth will emerge from pruned shoots and, as the juvenile foliage of this plant is much larger than the adult foliage, occasional pruning retains this quality. The leaflets of this attractive plant may be as much as 10cm (4in) long. They are a deep glossy green, leathery in texture and have gently undulating leaf margins. The cultivar P. 1. ‘Gold Splash’ is marked with gold around the central vein of each leaflet.
In Winter, provide an overnight minimum of 12°C (54°F): in the day, increase the heat by about 2°C (4°F) to enable the plant to maintain moderate growth during Winter. If temperatures fluctuate a lot, reduce water and humidity levels to a minimum. In Summer, aim for 22-24°C (72-76°F) and provide draught-free ventilation above this.
Grow in moderate sunlight – avoiding the searing rays of mid Summer – or in light shade: the colour will be reduced in either excessively strong or poor light. In the growing season, water well when thesurface dries.
In Winter, moderate the amount of water given, in keeping with the prevailing growing conditions. Drier growing conditions in Winter will keep the plant compact, as growth is restricted. Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Gold Splash’ needs additional humidity in Summer, especially when grown in good light: mist every other day. If the plant is grown in low light levels, or if the weather is consistently dull, an occasional misting will be enough.
In the growing season, feed fortnightly, using a proprietary houseplant food: very large plants may be top-dressed in Spring.
Repot when potbound, or every other year in Spring: use a free-draining, loam-based compost. Turn this plant regularly to ensure an even growth pattern. Prune as required: like all Araliaceae, it grows well as a bushy, multi-stemmed foliage plant.
Yellow leaves and leaf- drop will result from using water which is high in salts like chlorine, or from excessively high humidity during dull weather.
Red Spider Mite can soon decimate this plant: if identified early, RSM may be controlled by using an insecticide-impregnated spike, or a recommended insecticide. Few products available on the domestic market, however, are truly effective, and the plant may have to be burnt.
Thrips produce a mottling and silvering of the foliage: plants which are under-watered or subjected to excessive heat are prone to attack. Treat with a contact insecticide and correct the growing conditions.