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May 2010
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How to grow Acacia – a genus with a large number (>1000) of species

Description of the genus

Acacia is a type of plant that has a large number of species as a part of the genus (with more than a 1000 species of this plant present). The tree is a native of tropical regions of various continents such as Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and America. These trees are also known as the wattle or thorntree trees. The trees are grown for various purposes that are ornamental, as well as for medicinal purposes, and for timber as well. The origin of the name of this genus, Acacia, comes from the Greek for ‘akis’, which means a sharp point, and this is true of this tree as well. When some of the early species of acacia were discovered, they had sharp thorns, and hence the name.
Recognizing that a tree is part of the Acacia genus is not as easy as you might think, there might be some of the more obvious signs such as ball or spike flowers; but just because a tree has spikes does not mean that it is part of Acacia. It is the flowers that make it more clearer that this is Acacia.

How to grow an Acacia tree

Using Seed: if you want to grow an Acacia from seed, it can be fairly simple. Take the hard seed, make a jab at it with a sharp pin such that you get through the shell, and then leave it in hot water overnight or even for 2-3 days. And then germinate, doing so early, near February or March. Or you can use seedlings available from a nursery, which saves you the trouble of preparing the seed.

Soil and water: Acacia do well in soil that is well draining, and when a seedling, they should get less than a full day of sun, but as the plant grows, the full daily quota of sun is required. Watering should be held off till the top soil is dry (emphasizing that Acacia does not like too much water); if the soil gets too dry, the leaves will drop, and that is an indicator to you that you have taken the less water rule to more than required.

Container: Acacia really does not grow too well in containers, so you will need to put it in the ground; and try and ensure that you do not move the plant too much, since the root systems develop quickly.

Ongoing care and fertilizer: For an Acacia plant, the optimum fertilizer is a low nitrogen bonsai fertilizer, and you should use it once every approx 2-3 weeks. The low nitrogen fertilizer helps the tree produce more blooms. For pruning, do not touch the leaves, and do it in the autumn once blooming of the plant has happened.

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