The ornamental leafy plant Cochia is part of the Marecae family. It is native to Africa and East Asia. It is widely cultivated in almost every corner of the planet Earth. Kochia is also commonly known as bassia, annual cypress, twig, summer cypress, heather and broom grass.
Kochia is a dense, slender and short shrub that can decorate any garden plot with its unusual appearance.
It is used to decorate borders, fences and flower beds. And the fact that this plant is unpretentious and undemanding in its care makes it even more popular among gardeners.
Properties of cochia
Cochia is an ornamental deciduous plant that is cultivated as an annual or perennial. Its crown is characterized by rapid growth. The genus is represented by both semi-shrubs and herbaceous plants.
Already in the first days of June cochineal bushes become maximally decorative and remain so until the first frosts. The average height of the bushes is about 0.6-0.8 m. They include a large number of thin stems that branch strongly along their entire length.
At the base of the shrub there is a single, upright stem.
Many of those who first see cochiums think it is a coniferous plant. This is because the leaf plates of such a plant are very narrow and look similar to the needles. The upper part of the stems and leaves are soft and pleasant to the touch. On the surface of the leaf plates there is a short pubescence.
When the bush is young it is pale green but a few months later the color changes to crimson or pink.
Such decorative shrubs not only have attractive foliage, they also flower. However, the flowers are very small, so they are not particularly decorative. They grow from the axils of the apical leaf plates and are part of the panicles. If pollination occurs, the bush will form fruit, which are very small nuts.
Each fruit contains a single seed which remains germinating for 2 years.
How to grow cochia from seed? / cochia growing
Growing from seed
Cochia can be easily grown from seed either through a seedling or by sowing them immediately in the open field. Sow the seedlings from the last days of March to the end of April. To do this, not very tall small boxes should be filled with a substrate consisting of sand and garden soil. Specialists advise, be sure to disinfect the soil mixture by burning.
First, moisten the surface of the soil mixture in the box with a sprayer, and then proceed to sowing, and the seeds should try to distribute evenly. They are not buried and not covered with soil mixture on top, but only slightly pressed into the substrate, using a flat board for this purpose. Transfer the seedlings to a lighted place, and the optimum air temperature should be between 18-20 degrees.
After the seedlings will appear, they are moved to a cooler place (about 10 degrees). When the seedlings have formed 3 true leaf plates, they should be sprouted into small containers.
In a pot, which reaches 10 centimeters across, you can plant 3 seedlings at once. In the last days of May after the end of spring frosts seedlings are transplanted into the open ground, and they should be about 10-15 centimeters high. Such a plant needs space, so when planting seedlings in the open ground between them leave a distance of 0.3 m.
Cochia can be sown directly into the garden.
This is usually done in southern regions where the climate is mild, and the best time for this is from the middle to the end of May. Some gardeners prefer to sow cochia under the winter in the fall, in which case the seedlings will show up as soon as the snow has melted. If your garden will be favorable conditions for the growth of such a shrub, then abundant self-seeding is not excluded. The seeds of such a plant will not be destroyed by light frosts, but they will be destructive to the seedlings.
Before you start sowing, recultivate the soil and add some sand and peat to it.
Smooth the soil surface and distribute the fine seeds evenly. Afterwards, water the seeds gently. The first seedlings should appear after 10-12 days.
Cochia Seed Sowing Seed Review Season 2019
Care for cochia in the open field
Care for cochia is very easy. It is unpretentious and very hardy.
But this is only if you choose the most suitable location for its cultivation.
In nature, cochia prefers to grow in desert as well as rocky areas. Therefore, sunny areas are best suited for it in the garden. However, it can also be planted in slight shade, but the bushes will then be elongated and more loose.
Pick a site where the soil is water- and air permeable (well drained).
The soil should also be slightly acidic or neutral. Be sure to loosen the soil several times during the season and remove weeds in good time. Lowland areas that are flooded by rainwater or meltwater should not be used for growing this plant. Also cochia is not suitable for growing in a pot because its root system requires space. If you do decide to put it in a pot, remember that when the root system gets too crowded in the container, crown growth will stop and the plant will flower.
The same problem can occur if the planting is too dense, that is, if the bushes are planted too close together."
This plant is tolerant of drought and can therefore not be watered at all since it will receive enough rain from nature. However, during a prolonged dry spell, the foliage may start to droop; in this case, it is better to water them.
For cochia to grow strongly and to have a good effect, it should be systematically fertilized. The first time will be given half a month after planting in the open field.
Further feeding is carried out once a month. Both organic and mineral fertilizers can be used for this purpose. After pruning, the bushes are additionally fertilized, this accelerates their recovery.
This shrub has a very dense crown, which in addition is homogeneous. That is why the bush can be shaped into almost any shape.
For example, the crown can be given the shape of a geometric figure, also if there is a desire, you can make a complex garden sculpture out of the bush. The stems grow quickly and can therefore be cut back often (once or twice every 4 weeks).
Diseases and pests
This plant is very resistant to both pests and diseases. However, if moisture stagnates in the roots for a long time, they can rot. The most frequent pest of cochia is the spider mite.
As soon as the presence of the pest is suspected, immediately treat the bush with an insecticide solution.
Cochia in landscape design
Cochia is quite widely used in landscape design. For example, single bushes are planted in a front flower bed and given an intricate shape. You can plant several bushes at once and make up a whole ensemble of them. You can also plant next to conchias with different shades of leaves, which will also look quite effective.
Low-growing varieties are used for decorating garden paths or lawns.
This shrub is very often grown in alpinaries, rockeries and also near fountains and on the background of large stones. Taller varieties are used for hedges as well as for decorating outbuildings. Varieties with emerald foliage are a perfect background for brightly-colored plants. Sometimes cochia can be planted in groups to create a vase effect and tall, flowering plants can be planted in the middle of the vase.
Varieties with purple or purple leaves should be grown in the middle of the lawn.
Cochia has medicinal properties and is also used as a forage crop. In alternative medicine, alcoholic tinctures and decoctions are prepared from the seeds and young stems with diuretic, stimulating, antimicrobial, diaphoretic, laxative and cardiotonic effects.
Medications based on this plant are used in the treatment of rye, eczema or gonorrhea. In Oriental medicine, cochineal is used to prepare a cream that can strengthen both the skin and nail plates.
After cutting, the young stems can be fed to livestock. Kochia is used for silkworm cultivation on specialized farms. There are countries where the young leaves of this plant are used in the preparation of first courses. And you can also get soda from such a shrub.
Cochia species and varieties with photos and names
The genus cochia includes about 80 species.
In the middle latitudes, only a few of them are cultivated in gardens:
The low bush is spherical in shape and is unpretentious and drought-resistant. In the fall, the color of the foliage changes to burgundy-red. Even light frosts are not a problem for this species. As a result, it is able to maintain its ornamental quality into late fall.
This species has slender, elongated bushes that reach a meter in height and 0.
5 to 0.7 meters in width. The leaf blades are narrow and the surface is pubescent. They are colored in greenish color, which in the autumn time is replaced by burgundy. Such cochia prefers well-lit areas and grows normally in depleted soil.
This compact, spherical-shaped plant is about half a meter tall. The branched stems are covered with lush greenish foliage. Its color remains unchanged throughout the year.
Breeders using three of these species for their work have been able to obtain several varieties of kohia that are highly decorative:
The slender shrub varies in height from 0.7 to 1 meter.
The foliage is colored emerald at the beginning of the season and burgundy at the end. The plant tolerates pruning normally.
The bushes are spherical in shape, and are decorated with green leaf plates that have a silvery edge. In autumn they change their color to crimson.
This variety is fast growing and the bush reaches about 100 cm in height.
It is often used to form green sculptures.
The crown is columnar-shaped and the bush itself can reach 0.8 to 1 meter in height. The green foliage turns a crimson hue in the fall. The plant is able to withstand slight frosts.
The bushes are dense a meter high, and they reach about 0.6 m across. The green foliage begins to change to purplish-red as early as summer.The foliage is green..