The African linden is a small bush from southern Africa, cultivated for the decorative leaves and for the showy flowering. It has large bright green leaves, heart-shaped, covered with a soft down, the stems are fleshy and tend to lignify with the growth of the plant; it usually reaches two meters in height, but can grow further if grown in particularly favorable conditions. In spring it produces long stems, at the top of which numerous small white flowers bloom, with very striking yellow stamens; to prolong the flowering it is advisable to prune the stems that carry faded flowers, in this way the African sparmannia will continue to bloom until the beginning of summer.
African sparmannia particularly likes very bright places, even if it is good to keep it away from the direct rays of the sun, especially on the hottest days of summer, to avoid burns on the leaves. In summer it can be kept outdoors, in the garden or on a terrace, in a partially shaded place; in winter it is good to keep it indoors or in a temperate greenhouse, avoiding to place it too close to heat sources.
The ideal temperature for this type of plant is between 7 and 18 ° C.
Throughout the growing season, from March to November, supply abundant water to African sparmannia, avoiding letting the soil dry; in winter it is good to reduce watering, waiting for the soil to dry a little before providing additional water; on the hottest days, but also in cases where the plant is kept in a heavily heated place, it is advisable to increase the environmental humidity, vaporizing distilled water over the entire foliage. Check that water stagnations do not form which can be harmful for this kind of plant.
In spring and summer, provide the African lime fertilizer for flowering plants every 15-20 days, adding it to the water used for watering.
This type of plant likes a very soft soil, rich in humus and well drained, able to avoid the stagnation of water which is harmful to the health of these plants; since the growth is vigorous it is advisable to repot the African sparmannia every year, especially in the first years of the plant's life, this operation can be performed at the beginning of spring or autumn, taking care to prune the roots slightly.
The multiplication of the African linden occurs by cutting and by seed; in spring it is also possible to intervene by dividing the tufts of African sparmannia, taking care to take portions with some roots. The cuttings are made in spring and should be placed in a mixture of peat and sand, in a place that has a good degree of humidity and constant temperatures. The plants, given the rapidity of growth, must then be repotted in a container with good soil to allow their correct development.
African linden - African Sparmannia: Pests and diseases
The African linden is particularly afraid of cochineal, especially if it is kept in a poorly ventilated environment. To counteract the phenomenon it is possible to proceed to eliminate the parasites with a cotton swab and alcohol, or by washing the leaves with water and neutral soap, to then rinse with care. If the plant is rather large, it is possible to intervene with specific insecticide products.