Cataranthus: Home Care, Growing From Seeds, Species

Those who have at least once had the chance to see a room cataranthus, certainly wish to decorate their home with it. The fact is that this neat bush, decorated with many beautiful flowers, can not leave anyone indifferent. The name of this plant in translation from Greek means "clear, pure or perfect flower".

This plant is quite widespread in indoor culture. Most flower growers are convinced that cataranthus is the king of indoor flowering shrubs.

The fact is that it is undemanding in its care, but this plant blooms practically throughout the year.

Peculiarities of Catharanthus

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

The flowering plant Catharanthus is a member of the Cuthrus family (Apocynaceae). This genus is represented by evergreen semi-shrubs and herbaceous plants. This plant can be found in areas with a tropical climate, such as Java, Indochina, Cuba, Africa, Indonesia, etc. Where catharanthus comes from, scientists still do not know, but some specialists think that its homeland is Madagascar, where it is most widespread.

On this island, there are 7 or 8 species of cataranthus.

In natural conditions, such a plant in height can reach up to 150 cm. At the same time, indoor cataranthus, as a rule, does not happen higher than 60 cm. It began to be cultivated as a houseplant in the second half of the 18th century. For many years, specialists thought that this plant is a variety of pink periwinkle, and it was not allocated to a separate genus.

These plants are very similar to each other and both are part of the Cuthrus family. However, in 1937, after a long debate, it was decided that Catharanthus roseus was an evergreen semi-shrubby perennial, and that it should be identified as a separate genus. In room conditions, such a plant usually does not reach more than 0.5-0.6 m in height.

The fleshy and erect shoots branch in the upper part, also with time, their hardening is observed. The root system of this semi-shrub is rod-shaped and quite powerful. The central root can reach a depth of 0.2 to 0.3 m, it has a large number of lateral adventitious roots, which have a specific rather pungent flavor.

The young roots have no root hairs. The oblong leaflets are about 70 mm long and are tapered both below and above.

The bare, glossy foliage is dark green in color and decorated with a central vein of white. The flowering bush is completely covered by a large number of wheel-shaped flowers. The regular shaped flowers can reach 30 to 50 mm across.

They consist of 5 petals and a flat corolla, with its cannula being covered by scutes of hairs. Each flower has an eyelet in the middle, which is colored in a rich contrasting color shade. Nowadays there are hybrids with orange, purple-blue, white or pale lilac flowers. Outwardly the flowers of this plant and phlox are very similar to each other. However, the cataranthus flowers are solitary whereas phlox flowers are part of an inflorescence.

However, during the intensive flowering period which begins in May and finishes in October, there are many single flowers which cover the shrub in a luxuriant mass. The plant stops blooming after the cold weather sets in. When the flowering ends, the fruit is a crescent-shaped double leaf. Inside the fruit are about ten elongated seeds.

Medicinal properties

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

Cataranthus is a very showy plant, but it is not only appreciated for that.

The fact is that it has medicinal properties. On the territory of Indonesia and Madagascar, this semi-shrub was used by healers and healers to treat coughs, diabetes and a variety of tumors. The green parts of the shrub contain about sixty biologically active alkaloids. Nowadays, scientists have proved that this plant contains substances that help reduce the amount of sugar in the blood. The alkaloids vincristine and vinblastine have also been isolated from the catharanthus and have served as the basis for the manufacture of medicines to fight cancer.

These drugs are still used in hospitals today.

The stems and leaves of this semi-shrub are used in folk medicine to prepare various decoctions and infusions used to treat:

  • polyps, myomas, adenomas of the prostate;
  • bronchopulmonary diseases;
  • trophic ulcers and wounds that do not heal well;
  • gum and dental diseases;
  • diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

If you decide to use catharanthus for treatment, remember that all of its parts contain poisonous substances. That is why it is highly undesirable to prepare yourself any medicines from this plant without some experience and knowledge! Otherwise, because of the self-cooked medication can develop an allergic reaction, appear serious side effects or burns. Means made from cataranthus, there are contraindications.

We recommend using such remedies only under the advice and supervision of your doctor.

Cataranthus - cultivation, care.

Cataranthus care at home

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

To make your indoor cataranthus happy with its appearance and bloom abundantly, it must be cared for properly. The rules are quite simple but they must be followed. The main thing when working with this plant, remember that all of its parts contain poison.

So do not forget to wear rubber gloves before working with it, you will avoid poisoning or an allergic reaction.

Wetting and humidity

This plant is very particular about its water-lovingness. For it to flower in profusion, it must be kept in a humid environment, both in the air and in the potting soil mixture. Such a plant reacts negatively to dry air. Therefore, if the humidity level in the room is less than 60 percent, then the air around the plant is sure to humidify regularly with a sprayer, and the bush itself needs to be sprayed very carefully.

Cataranthus leaves can be moistened with a sprayer, but the flowers - is not recommended! To increase the humidity level in the room, not far from the shrub set open container with water, and in the tray poured wet pebbles or expanded clay.

Do not forget to water such a plant systematically. Never allow its root system to dry out. If the watering is too sparse or too infrequent, the cataranthus will signal this with leaves that will start to curl. If you notice this in time and water the bush, the leaves will come back to normal rather quickly.

However, when watering, you should take into account that the water should not stagnate either in the substrate or in the pan. Try to choose such a regime of watering, so that the soil mixture in the pot at all times was a little moist. Only wet the substrate in the pot when its top layer is 20-30 mm deep. If you want to grow catharanthus as a perennial, then in the autumn and winter he provides sparing and infrequent watering. If the humidity in your room is constantly low, moisten the leaves regularly at all times with a sprayer.


Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

Cataranthus needs diffused light. That is why it is recommended to choose windows with a western and eastern orientation. The shrub can also be placed on a southern window, but it will have to be protected from the scorching rays of the sun at midday. The pot with the bush can be put and not on the window sill. It normally develops and grows in a slightly shaded place and looks spectacular on a shelf, which is illuminated by diffused rays of the sun.

If the catharanthus is kept warm during the winter, then it will also need plenty of diffused light. If it doesn't get enough light this will have a major negative effect on its appearance, as the shoots will start to stretch out vigorously. If it does not get enough sunlight, make sure the plant is extra-lit with fluorescent lamps.

Temperature range

Wall Catharanthus grows best in the spring and summer at a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees. When overwintering a perennial plant, put it away in a cool place where the temperature should be about 15 degrees.

In no case, do not keep the bush at this time near working heating devices. It will overwinter well on an insulated loggia. But remember that catharanthus cannot stay in the cold. If it stays below 10 degrees for a long time, it can die. If you decide to discard the shrub in the fall right after it blooms, keep it in a warm place.

In this case, it will bloom long and lush.

In the warm season, the bush can be moved outside. In the springtime after the air outside warms up to 18 degrees and above, the shrub can be moved to a veranda or balcony. For the flower choose a place that will have reliable protection from draughts, precipitation and direct sunlight. In August or September, as soon as it starts to get colder, it is recommended to move the plant inside.

It will still bloom indoors until October.


Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

Light loose substrate saturated with nutrients is recommended for growing this flower. If you want, you can buy soil mix for indoor flowering plants such as geraniums at a specialist store. You can also make it yourself by mixing soil from sod and leaf soil together. Mix this potting soil with a little coarse river sand and peat.


Feed regularly and with enough fertilizer to produce a long-lasting, lush bloom. If you are cultivating this plant as an annual, then feed it systematically once every 7 days. A liquid fertilizer for indoor flowering plants should be diluted in the water you use for watering. You can, for example, use liquid fertiliser for indoor roses. The dosage on the package should be adhered to and overfeeding should be avoided.

If you decide to grow catharanthus as a perennial, then its strength should be spared. This is why in this case, during the flowering period, fertilisation is carried out twice less frequently, to be exact, once every 15 days. At the same time, the dosage of fertilizer should be reduced by half. When the flowering period is over, all fertilising should be stopped and must not be done from October to February.

Pot selection

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

Be aware that this flower is a fast-growing one.

If you choose a small pot for planting, the root system of the bush will soon fill it and it will become very crowded. In this regard, the choice should stop at a large container, in which the bush will be able to grow throughout the year. The root system of such a plant is well developed and can reach 0.2-0.35 m in length.

This should definitely be taken into account when choosing a flower pot. Do not forget to make a thick drainage layer at its bottom (30 to 40 mm), you can take pebbles, expanded clay or other suitable material. Then fill it with a layer of substrate, which is recommended to be combined with a small amount of humus to increase its fertility.

Transplant cataranthus every year, and use a container that should be 30-50 mm larger in diameter than the old pot.


Since this flower is fast growing, it should be cut.

If grown as a perennial, all elongated stems should be cut back by 1/3 after wintering. All dry and injured branches should also be cut back and a formative pruning should be carried out at the same time. This procedure is carried out in early spring and will help rejuvenate the bush.

For the plant to have a neat and lush crown, the tops of the stems on a young bush should be regularly pruned. This will stop the shoots from being stretched out and instead will cause the side branches to grow strongly, making the crown more lush and showy.

During flowering, the decorative effect of the plant should be maintained at all times. To do this, remove faded flowers and yellow foliage at the bottom of the stems in a timely manner.

Transplanting cataranthus

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

Grown as a perennial, the semi-shrub needs regular transplants that are done every year in early spring (in March). After transplanting, take the shrub to a warm and well-lit place. Inspect the shrub and prune it.

Transplant the shrub carefully, using the method of transplanting, make sure that the ground lump on the roots is not destroyed. Try not to damage the root system. Fill the voids in the new pot with the same soil mixture that was used to plant the shrub last year. If you use a completely different mixture, it can lead to a lack of blooming. The substrate should be slightly acidic or neutral.

Don't forget that, so it's best to always use the same potting soil, e.g. for a flowering geranium.

You might have to transplant catharanthus not once but twice a year. If during a period of intensive growth the flowers fly off and the yellowing of the lower leaf plates is observed, it is most likely that the roots are already very crowded in the pot.

Look at the holes in the bottom of the container, if it is tight, the roots will peek out of them. In this case, the plant needs to be replanted very urgently and a larger flower pot should be used. To be able to pull the bush out more easily, it is watered before transplanting. If the container is made of plastic, it will most likely have to be broken or cut, but be extremely careful not to damage the root system. Otherwise, blooming will stop.

Cataranthus indoor. Transplanting. Useful properties.

Propagation methods

With good and proper care, catharanthus will bloom abundantly and keep its decorativeness for a long time. Experts do not advise, to grow one bush longer than 3 years.

The fact is that the bush over three years old has an outgrowth: the stems become stubby, and the flowers become shallow. As a result, the bush loses its decorativeness. For this reason, once the plant reaches the age of three years, it is replaced by a new one.

After the lush flowering is over, the bush weakens greatly, and it will take a lot of effort from the florist to make it bloom again next season. That is why this plant is most often grown as an annual.

When the bush blooms, it is simply thrown out. The fact is that it is much easier to root a cuttings or stem than to take care of the bush during the winter. The new bush by spring will become stronger, will grow and will be ready to please you with its spectacular flowering. Three methods are used to propagate such a plant: the seed method, bush division and cuttings.

Growing from seed

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

Buy seed material of such a plant at a specialized store.

Do not collect your own seeds from your own bush, as they do not have time to mature during the growing season. They are only able to mature in natural conditions in nature. If you do decide to collect seeds from your own bush, then you will have to wait quite a long time. You have to raise the catharanthus throughout the Autumn and Winter, making sure you give it the best possible conditions similar to those in nature: Keep humidity and air temperature optimal and constant, and use lots of light. It is not until the beginning of spring that the seeds may have matured.

Sowing the seeds can be done at any time of the year. Remember, however, that a young bush will not flower until 2-3 months after the seedlings have sprouted. Therefore, it is much more practical and convenient to sow in early spring. To begin with, the seed material is treated with a solution of potassium manganese, and then it is treated with epin. For seeding, use a small container, which is filled with fertile soil mixture, while deepening the seeds should not be more than 10 mm.

Water the crops, for this purpose, they are moistened with a sprayer with well-distilled water, the temperature of which should be slightly above room temperature. The container with the seeds should be covered from above. For sowing any not very large container is suitable, which should be covered with a film or glass from above. The seeds are placed in a warm and dark place. The first seedlings can be seen in 7-15 days.

After that the container should be moved to a bright place. The optimal air temperature is 23-26 degrees. Do not forget to air the seedlings regularly: once a day, the best time for this is in the morning. After the seedlings show themselves, they do not grow for 30 days, during this time they build up the root system. Picking in individual pots carried out after the bush will grow on 3 or 4 true leaf plates.

Remember that the stronger seedlings grow very quickly, so use a large pot for their planting. In this case, you will not have to repot the flowering bush that has grown.

A suitable soil mixture should be used for planting the young plants. A substrate consisting of humus, coarse sand, peat and sod soil (1:1:1:1) is good for this. When buying a ready-made mixture, choose one that is suitable for flowering house plants.

Raising with cuttings

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

First you should make cuttings, cut off the top parts of the stems, which should be green. The cuttings can be rooted in a soil mixture or a vessel with water. Water should be boiled or very stale, and a drug to stimulate root growth should be dissolved in it. A container with a cuttings put in a well-lit and warm place. Water is added to the glass if necessary, the roots of the cuttings should appear quite quickly.

At the end of the rooting cuttings are planted in a suitable substrate. The young bush is cared for in the same way as an adult.

Rooting cuttings can be planted in moistened soil mixture, but from above they must necessarily be covered with a transparent cap. Water the cuttings only when necessary, but they must be ventilated regularly. After the cuttings begin to grow, the cover can be removed.

Remember that during the rooting cuttings can die, so prepare them at once a few pieces. Preparation and rooting of cuttings is recommended in early spring after the adult bush is cut. However, it is also possible to propagate cataranthus in this way in the fall. Cuttings root best at 22 to 25 degrees.

🌱Unique Cataranthus ! Easy to breed with cuttings ! It's that easy 🌱

Dividing the bush

When transplanting an adult sprawling bush in the springtime, it can be divided into several parts.

Depending on the size of the root system, the shrub can be divided into 2-3 parts. Remove the plant from the container and carefully remove all of the substrate from its root system. Inspect the roots and divide the bush into a certain number of parts, using a sterilized very sharp tool. It is necessary to cover the cutting places with charcoal powder. Each bush is planted in an individual container, observing all the rules listed above.


Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

If you transplant the indoor cataranthus in summer to the open ground, then you should immediately think about how you will preserve the plant in the cold season. The fact is that even a mild winter this flower will not be able to survive. In the first days of October, the bush should be carefully removed from the ground, having shortened its stems to 2/3 of the length. Put the bush in a container that can accommodate its entire root system. Next, the pot should be filled to the top with a soil mixture consisting of earth and sand.

After that, the flower is transferred to a place where the temperature is kept at 15 to 17 degrees. It is better if such a place you look for in the apartment. He will have to stay there until the onset of heat. During the winter time, you do not need to water the plant. Once the temperature rises to 18 degrees or more in spring, you can let the shrub go outside again.

It will definitely let you know by looking at it if you are not caring for it properly. So carefully observe the plant's condition so you can correct any mistakes you make in time to save your flower.


Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

  • Sometimes small spots or dark bumps appear on the front surface of the leaf plates. At the same time, something resembling pustules appears on the underside surface. Such symptoms indicate that your cataranthus has leaf rust.

    Most often, the development of such a disease is promoted by high air humidity, as well as regular overwatering of the soil. And it also happens that the plant is planted in a substrate that is infected with rust fungi or it is too heavy. In order to save the flower, it is treated with fungicidal preparations. After treatment, it is recommended that the bush be replanted in a fresh soil mixture.

  • It can also happen that the foliage becomes sluggish, yellowing and flying off.

    This can happen if the shrub stands on a window and is not protected from the scorching rays of the sun. In this case, the plant should be moved to the interior of the room or it can be protected from the sun with a light curtain or blinds instead.

  • If the air in the room is too dry, then the tops of the leaf plates will begin to turn yellow. This problem is especially common in the wintertime, as the air at this time is desiccated by working heating appliances. In this case, take a high tray and fill it with wet expanded clay, also move the flower away from heating devices.

    And you can also put an open vessel filled with water near it. If the bush has already bloomed, its foliage can be moistened with a sprayer, using well-chilled water, the temperature of which should be close to room temperature. As a result of this, the humidity level will increase and the plant will return to normal.

  • It is not uncommon for the lower leaf plates on the bush to turn yellow and fall off. This is a quite natural process for this plant.

    Snip off all the yellow leaves in time, and the bush will always look neat and pretty.

  • Sparse flowering can be due to the fact that the room is too cold. Move the catharanthus to a well-lit and warm place and you will be able to solve this problem.
  • Flowering stops and the foliage turns yellow. Examine the pot: if there are roots sticking out of its drainage holes at the bottom, this means the shrub is very cramped in its old container and needs to be transferred to a new, larger one.

    After a while the shrub will return to normal and bloom again.

  • Budding can occur due to many different reasons: dry air, poor watering or not enough light. If the watering is too infrequent, young leaves will drop from the top parts of the stems because of the lack of moisture. It may also be because it is cold or dark.


Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

This plant is most often inhabited by scabies, aphids and spider mites.

They can get onto your plant from neighbors, through an open window from the street or you can bring them yourself from the flower store. All flowers should therefore be inspected systematically.

If pests have been found on the bush, the first thing to do is to give it a warm shower, which will wash away most of the specimens. After that, with a brush moistened in alcohol, try to remove those pests that remain. Then treat the foliage with a soap solution.

If there are many pests, treat the bush with an insecticide solution (Actellic, Actara or Fytoverm). Spray the bush twice or three times with a break of 1-1.5 weeks. Read the instructions on the package before using.

Stypes and varieties of cataranthus

All hybrids as well as the ornamental series of cataranthus varieties were created by breeders using pink cataranthus.

These plants differ among themselves in the color of their flowers and the height of the bush. Those that are most popular will be described below.

Cataranthus aristocratus

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

This plant reaches about half a meter in height. In cross-section, the rather large flowers reach about 50 mm. They can be colored in various shades of color from dark red to snow-white.

As a rule, there is an eyelet of contrasting color in the center of the flower. This kind of cataranthus is cultivated both at home and in the garden, decorating the borders of paths and beds with it.

Cataranthus pacifica

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

The small, compact bush varies from 25 to 30 centimeters in height, with a crown that can reach 15 to 20 centimeters across. It is a very easy plant to care for and it flowers early. The larger flowers have a distinctive eye in the center, which stands out from the rest of the petals.

This variety has several varieties that differ in the color of the flowers:

  • Burgundy - the flowers are colored in a bright wine hue and have a white eye;
  • White - the white flowers have a red eye;
  • Epricot - the apricot hued flowers have a red center;
  • Ace Pink - the pinkish flowers have a red middle.

In the eighties of the twentieth century, breeders created quite a number of new varieties of cataranthus. Nowadays the following are popular:

Sort series Culer (Culer)

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

It consists of low plants characterized by strong branching, their height does not exceed 0,4 m. Large rounded flowers reach up to 50 mm across. They have an eyelet of contrasting bright color in the middle.

This series includes the following varieties:

  • Grape Cooler - the lavender-pink flowers have red eyes;
  • Pepermint Cooler - white flowers adorn the eyes with a rich red color;
  • Red Cooler - the flowers are red in color.

The First Kiss variety (First Kiss)

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

The compact bushes vary in height from 0.3 to 0.4 m, have a rather showy crown and the flowers can be colored in 13 different shades. This variety series is the most titled and is the most popular among florists.

The fact is that representatives of this variety series have received prestigious awards in florist competitions in North America. For example, the purple-blue cultivar First Kiss Blueberry received high awards in Canada and the USA.

The Cascade variety series (Cascade)

Cataranthus: home care, growing from seeds, species

This variety series consists of ampelent cataranths. The short bushes reach a height of only about 15 centimeters. Their long stems are characterized by their flexibility, either hanging down or creeping on the ground.

The large flowers reach about 50 mm across. The following varieties are the most popular:

  • Cataranthus ampelicus Titanus - about 0.75 m long hanging downward, the deep red flowers stand out vividly against the dark green glossy foliage, the variety is most often cultivated in a cachepot;
  • Cataranthus titanus White - has snow-white flowers;
  • Deep Rose - pink flowers;
  • Cora Cascade Cherry - color of flowers cherry;
  • Cora Cascade Polka Dot - bush is decorated with flowers of white hue;
  • Cora Cascade Medgenta - flowers are colored in maroon and mauve hue.



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