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When I first heard about the autograph tree it got me thinking – is this plant some kind of a celebrity that it gives you its autograph?
That is not exactly the case. Instead, this plant has very sturdy leaves that you can carve your name onto without tearing it apart.
Who in the world would need an autograph from a tree, right? But what a cool thing to know about a tree!
Now, that makes a lot more sense!
Nevertheless, this tree is not meant to be grown to just be written on. Its leaves are in no way a replacement for a paper or sticky notepad. This gorgeous plant is better off as a houseplant that beautifies your space.
Furthermore, the autograph tree also has air-filtering properties. It has the innate ability to absorb and neutralize harmful substances in the air. The plant then converts it into oxygen which makes it healthier for us to breathe in. So amazing!
Already excited to grow one yourself? Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
In this article, we will teach you all the basic things you need to know when growing an autograph tree. Plus, we also included links to some of the well-trusted products you can use when tending to this plant.
There’s no time to waste, so let’s jump right on it!
The Origin of Autograph Tree
The autograph tree is known scientifically as Clusia rosea. It rightfully belongs to the family of the Clusiaceae plants. This tree is a native of the Caribbean region. In particular, it originated in the tropical and subtropical climates of the Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Florida too.
The autograph tree is actually an epiphytic plant. That means, it can naturally grow on top of another plant species, most often on tree branches outdoors. Nonetheless, it can happily thrive as an indoor houseplant too, if given the right care.
As mentioned above, this tree earned its unique name because of the imprint you can leave on its thick, waxy dark green leaves. Apart from that, this plant also goes by other common names, including copey, balsam or pitch apple.
How Big Can An Autograph Tree Grow?
The autograph tree is relatively fast-growing. One of the fastest, in fact, among common houseplants. It can grow as much as 12 inches per year if provided with the optimal care and growing conditions.
When grown outdoors, this tree can grow up to 6 meters high. However, the difference in the environment indoors allows it to grow rather compact. Often, it will only reach about 50 to 100 centimeters tall.
Basic Care Guide for Autograph Tree
Considering its tropical origins, the autograph tree appreciates basking under the full sun outdoors. Receiving plenty of sunlight allows it to grow as big and as tall as it possibly be. Who doesn’t love a bit of sunshine?
Nevertheless, a moderate lighting condition with partial shade is well-tolerated too. Hence, this makes this plant suitable for indoor gardens as well. Although you should know that plants acclimated to lower lighting levels are not likely to adapt to stronger sunlight. On that note, lighting should be indirect, as it is more prone to get burnt. Browning of leaf tips and edges is an indication that your plant is getting too much sunlight already.
You can actually place your plant anywhere in your home as long as it can meet the basic light requirements. Nevertheless, it is likely ideal to put them near a south or west-facing window. The closer your pot is from a window, the better it is for your autograph tree.
The west-facing window is your best choice during the spring and summer seasons. This location gives bright daylight minus the harsh afternoon sun. On the other hand, the south-facing window gives you bright light all day long. Hence, you should take advantage of it especially during the autumn and winter seasons.
If by any chance your space is unlikely to get enough sunlight, worry not. You can always seek the help of artificial lighting systems. A grow light is the perfect solution for this dilemma. It can supplement sunlike-lighting at different intensities and color temperatures as necessary.
Check out these grow lights:
Considering that the autograph tree is an epiphyte, it is naturally inclined to thrive in organic soil. And because it tends to grow on top of another plant, it is not accustomed to having its roots burrowed under the soil. Instead, it prefers its root system to breathe freely.
On that note, it is best to choose a potting soil that is soft, loose, and perhaps sandy. This mixture will provide your soil with good drainage and aeration. Substrates like peat, perlite, and coarse sand are perfect elements to add to the mix.
Another great combination is to use half and half of peat and orchid mix. Both of which are organic and porous materials. Thus, they are quite capable of creating well-draining and aerating potting soil mix.
Regardless of which mixture you opt to use, always make sure to use a sterile batch of potting soil. It should be free from pests, diseases, and spores. Keep it as clean as possible to minimize the risk of cross-contamination, or compromise the health of your plant in general.
Check out these potting soil mixes:
The autograph tree prefers moist soil most of the time. Thus, you should be able to give it thorough and consistent watering, especially during its first year of growth. A frequency of once every 7 days should be enough to keep it well-hydrated.
However, also be careful not to overdo watering. Leaving its soil soggy for some time increases the risk of developing all sorts of problems. This can include pest infestation, root rotting, and other soil-borne diseases.
One way to prevent overwatering is to invest in a good-quality soil moisture meter. This simple garden tool will help you monitor the moisture level deep within the soil. Thus, you will know exactly when it is about time to water or not.
Furthermore, you should also keep in mind to always use water at room temperature. Being a native to tropical climates, it is quite understandable that the plant is not used to colder temperatures. Watering it with cold water can send your plant into a state of shock. The stress will prompt the autograph tree to shift into dormancy. Although it may not instantly kill it, it is enough to cause damage to the inside of the plant. In effect, growth may be stunted and the plant may eventually wilt.
On the other side, you should also know that the autograph tree can withstand brief periods of drought. So, don’t worry if you missed out on watering your plant for the week. The tree is fairly resilient and forgiving. Just make sure to water it the soonest as possible to increase its chances to bounce back and survive. It deserves a fair chance!
Check out these soil moisture meters:
Temperature & Humidity
As a tropical plant, the autograph tree is naturally inclined to warmer environments. A temperature range of 60°F to 85°F suits it comfortably. Less tolerant as it is to coldness, the plant can tolerate a temperature of up to 50°F. Anything below that parameter can already stress the plant, causing leaves to prematurely drop.
Moreover, the autograph tree also hates temperature fluctuations. Thus, you should always keep it away from both hot and cold drafty areas. Good examples of this are air conditioning and heater vents.
As for the humidity, this plant loves high humidity. Preferably, a relative humidity level above 40% should keep it happy. It would be best if you can provide a humidifier to maintain consistent levels of moisture.
Nonetheless, there are also simple and inexpensive measures you can do to increase the humidity within your space. The first is misting. Yes, spraying your plant with plain water from time to time aids to keep it moist. Just make sure to use a fine-mist sprayer to get better control in the dispersal of water molecules. Hence, preventing it from getting overly drenched.
Another popular method is to use a pebbled tray. Fill the tray with enough water that it does not touch the bottom of the pot. The evaporation of the water then will help raise the humidity in the immediate surrounding. The same principle applies, you can alternatively just leave a bowl of water next to the plant.
As essential as it is to plant a healthy plant, both temperature and humidity levels should be monitored accordingly. For convenience, you can use a 2-in-1 thermometer and hygrometer device to keep you well aware of the measurements. These are very inexpensive and a must-have tool for your garden.
Check out these thermometer & hygrometer devices:
The autograph tree can do just fine even without fertilizers. However, it’s a good idea to feed it once in a while. In fact, giving it good-quality fertilizer will help boost its growth and strengthen its health.
You can feed your tree at least once a month with a balanced all-purpose liquid fertilizer. The solution should be diluted at half strength for plants growing outdoors. Further dilution, though, might be required for indoor autograph trees. Such plants tend to grow slower, and may need less nutrients.
Alternatively, you can also use granular or pellet fertilizers. These are slow-release formulas, thus they are best given thrice a year. One each for spring, summer, and fall. Remember to only feed your plant during its active growing phase. Avoid fertilizing during winter, as the tree is likely to be in a dormant state.
Check out these fertilizers:
Pruning & Repotting
The autograph tree can grow pretty fast and spread wide. Thus, you should consider pruning it at least once a year. During spring is the best time to do your trimming. Doing so will help keep your tree within your desired shape and size. Moreover, this also allows you to cut off those unsightly parts of the tree-like wilted leaves.
As fast-growing as it may be, you may need to repot this plant often, as its roots get pot bound. To do this, simply loosen the soil and lift off your plant from the base. Carefully remove as much soil as you can without damaging the root system. Transfer your plant into a new container with a fresh batch of clean soil.
The container should be at least one size bigger than the previous one. This should give enough allowance for further growth. Moreover, do not forget to always provide drainage holes.
Check out these pruning shears:
Check out these planters:
The autograph tree is relatively easy to propagate. The best way to do this is through stem cuttings. Simply use sterile garden shears to sever about 4 to 6 inches of healthy stem. You can opt to apply rooting hormone to increase your chances of success.
Once the tips of the cuttings are covered with rooting hormone, you can plant it directly into clean, warm and moist potting soil. Place the pot under bright yet indirect sunlight. The warmth and moisture help to create a conducive environment for growth. If done right, it should start to develop roots after a week or two.
Check out these rooting hormones:
As you see, taking care of an autograph plant is not difficult at all. Just follow the basic guideline we provided herein and thank me later! This will definitely make your plant thrive as healthy as it can be. I bet you might just be so happy with the outcome that you would want to get my autograph. Just kidding!