The Cassia Popcorn is a hardy plant native to the African region. This plant is visually appealing and quite versatile. It is termed the popcorn plant as it smells similar to buttered popcorn or peanut butter. Children also favor this plant due to its intriguing smell. It’s also important to remember that the popcorn plant is toxic to humans and pets if ingested.
Introduction to the Popcorn Cassia
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The Cassia Popcorn plant is also known, Popcorn Plant. Its botanical name is Senna Didymobotrya and this tropical plant is a native of Africa. The popcorn Cassia can grow as tall as twenty-five feet in their native climate. If planted in colder regions, it usually does not grow over three feet.
The popcorn cassia belongs to the Fabaceae family and is a flowering perennial. The name Popcorn Cassia is derived from the plants’ unique scent that resembles buttered popcorn. Some say the smell is more like peanut butter. The bright yellow flowers that grow on the Popcorn Cassia also resemble popcorn.
However, it’s interesting to note that the buttered popcorn smell does not come from the flowers but from the little, oval-shaped leaves on the plant’s stem. These leaves are green in color with a leathery texture. They usually grow in pairs down this tropical plant’s stem. They are usually three inches long.
The Popcorn Cassia is popular amongst children because of its strong smell. This smell can become quite apparent upon rubbing the plants’ foliage. However, this tropical plant is also toxic when ingested hence should be kept out of reach of young children and pets.
The Senna Didymobotrya grows throughout the African continent. But this tropical plant is abundant in the central and eastern African regions.
Popcorn Cassia has also been planted in other regions of the world. It has been able to naturalize in some parts of the US, Australia, and Mexico. Even though this is a tropical plant, it can grow in cooler climates as an annual. The popcorn Cassia usually blooms late in the summer and adds a pop of color to the landscape!
When grown out of Africa, the Popcorn Cassia can add tropical flair to the garden! The Popcorn plant is quite easy to care for when grown as an annual shrub. It can grow both in the ground and in a container.
When grown in its native environment, the popcorn plant grows up to almost 25 feet. But when planted as an annual, it hardly reaches a few feet. This plant also has bright green leaves that are leathery and covered in little hair. After flowering, the buttered popcorn also produces fruit. These fruits consist of brown, five-inch-long seed pods. Each pod has around sixteen seeds that resemble beans.
This tropical plant is often referred to by a lesser appealing term, ‘wet dog.’ Popcorn Cassia is also known by several other names. These include:
- Popcorn Cassia Plant
- The African Senna
- The Popcorn Senna
- The Popcorn Bush
- The Peanut Butter Cassia
Cassia Popcorn Plant Care
The popcorn plant is low-maintenance and grows well in warm, humid climates. Its bright colors make it a great addition to your garden in summertime. If you water and fertilize this tropical plant well, it blooms throughout the summer and some of autumn. However, the popcorn plants are at their best during the humid and hot summer days. After flowering, this plant is also known to produce brown-colored seed pods that songbirds love snacking on.
You can plant popcorn cassia both indoors and outdoors, in the ground or in pots. This plant prefers warmer climates and is at its full glory in humid, warm environments. However, it can still survive in cold regions.
Do not mistake the Senna Didymobotrya for the Senna Pendula or the Climbing Cassia. The latter can sometimes become invasive when grown in humid and hot regions. So do make sure you plant the right one!
The Senna Didymobotrya grows well in direct sunlight. If the plant becomes too dry and hot, its leaves automatically close in during the daytime. The leaves are also known to close in at night, to retain moisture.
As mentioned above, popcorn plants can grow in cooler climates but as annuals. This tropical plant can tolerate light cold and frost. However, it is advised to place the plant indoors or within the confines of a greenhouse if it gets too cold. Popcorn plants are known to grow within hardiness zone ten when planted in the United States.
Popcorn plants also thrive in high humidity levels and prefer humidity levels over 60. It can be challenging to retain this humidity level in an indoor space. It’s ideal for growing this plant outdoors if you live in a humid and hot environment. Popcorn plants are known to grow well in such conditions. Even if it’s not very hot and humid, this plant will be able to grow outdoors but may not grow quickly. The popcorn Cassia’s seeds are usually planted in early spring.
Soil and Fertilization Needs
Popcorn plants thrive in well-drained, rich soil. The soil should also be highly fertile for this plant to thrive. If growing this plant in a pot, fertilizing it with a combination of potting mix and sandy loam is a great idea. This will make the soil moist, and the plant will respond well. If you only use potting mix, the plant won’t get much moisture and can become dry.
Popcorn plants also often require pruning to remain compact, especially indoors.
It’s advised to fertilize your senna Didymobotrya at least once in a month. This ensures the plant grows well and produces healthy blooms. Also, when fertilizing the plant, don’t additionally soak it.
Also, make sure you don’t apply too much fertilizer. Follow given guidelines and don’t go beyond states requirements. Over-fertilizing can prevent growth and can damage the plant.
Popcorn plants also require regular watering. If growing your popcorn cassia in a container, it’s best to water it every day. More watering is required if you notice the plant’s bright green leaves closing in during the daytime. Also, ensure the plants’ soil is not wet instead, it should be moist. When the weather is very hot and dry, misting the plant is also works well.
If you have planted the senna Didymobotrya outdoors, watering it thoroughly every day works better than watering it a little daily. This plant grows very well in well-drained soil. When you water it, the water quantity should be enough to penetrate up to fifteen cm. This will ensure the water reaches the roots and the plant is healthy.
If you water the popcorn plant too often, especially in the first year it is planted, it can be detrimental for the plant. It can lead to root rot because the plants’ roots cannot absorb enough oxygen.
When the popcorn plant is established, it also becomes tolerant to drought. However, it should be watered as required for bright yellow blooms and good health.
Also ensure there are drainage holes in the container or pot the senna Didymobotrya is planted. To encourage drainage you can also place gravel and stones at the base of the pot prior to adding the soil.
When watering the senna Didymobotrya provides enough quantity of water that it begins leaking from the draining holes at the base. But be mindful of water quantity if the popcorn plant is watered outdoors. It might not require frequent watering if it is receiving 2.5cm of rainfall per week.
You can also check the senna Didymobotrya soil to determine moisture levels. This applies to plants grown indoors and outdoors. It’s also a good idea to water your plant in the morning or afternoon. This helps you save water and reduce the level of stress in the plant. This also ensures water droplets dry out from your popcorn cassia’s leaves. If moisture is retained overnight, it can lead to infections and fungus.
The Right Temperatures
The popcorn cassia loves warmth and humidity. If your daily temperature falls below eighty degrees F this plants growth and flowering will slow down. The popcorn senna loves temperatures between eight to ninety degrees F.
This plant may is known to tolerate slightly cool climates. If the temperature falls under forty degrees f the plants growth becomes severely affected. It’s also advised to place the plant indoors until frost has passed. If outdoor temperatures are under 30 degrees F. its imperative you take this plant inside.
Another option is to put the plant is an almost-dormant state until winter has passed. This can be done by cutting the plant to almost half of its size. Then place it inside a pot and keep it within a cool garage for the rest of winter. Receiving a light breeze in this state should be sufficient. Its not advised to water your Africa senna when it is nearly dormant.
Air Circulation Levels
The Africa Senna must keep receiving decent air circulation. This keeps the plant safe from fungus and rotting. This plant is particularly susceptible to these conditions during its infancy period. Therefore it’s important for there to be space for airflow. You can do this by planting the Africa Senna at least sixty centimeters away from each other.
If you have kept your popcorn plant indoors make sure it receives adequate sunlight and fresh air. This is impossible by placing your plant near a window. This position will also provide your plant with more oxygen to encourage photosynthesis.
If your plant is placed near the HVAC system or a heating unit, the heat it receives can also make its leaves to become dry. Make sure this is not the case.
The Propagation Process
It’s possible to grow the Senna Didymobotrya from seeds and root cuttings. If you want to grow this plant as an annual, using root cuttings is a better option. Once frost season has passed, plant the root cuttings in spring. Place the roots under the ground at a distance of 60cm. Water them thoroughly once in the ground. This plant is usually grown the same time period as tomatoes.
If you want to propagate from seeds, soak the seeds in warm water for about a day. Then sow the seeds in moist and well-drained soil. Soaking the seeds will help germinate the plant easily. The best times to sow seeds is during February and March.
Once the seeds are sown, keep the plants in a greenhouse until frost season has passed. Place the plants outside in sunlight when it’s warmer.
Pruning the Popcorn Cassia
Pruning this plant is advised to make it look full and beautiful. While pruning, you should remove all dead blooms and trim all leafless or dead branches.
Pests and Diseases
The Senna Didymobotrya is not very susceptible to infections and diseases. However, this plant can easily get fungus if it remains wet. It is also important to grow this plant in warm , humid weather. If the weather is not close to its native environment, you may struggle growing this plant as a perennial.
Repotting the Popcorn Plant
If you grow the popcorn plant in a container, use well-drained soil. Also, get a container with drainage holes in the bottom so the soil drains well. A container made of Terracotta is a good option as moisture can evaporate through its walls. Placing rocks and pebbles on the base of the container also allows the water to drain well.
The container should also be a little wider than the plant’s roots. This will enable the plant to grow well. The container will also be able to balance the plants height this way without toppling over.
The Popcorn Plant is a vibrant and beautiful plant that can survive in different weather conditions. This plant is native to Africa and hence thrives in warm, humid environments. It can also grow in cold weather, but its growth rate and flowering decrease.
The popcorn plant is versatile and can be kept both indoors and outdoors. If you live in a warm, humid region growing this plant in your garden is a great idea! It will add a pop of color to your garden and thus visually elevate your garden space.