Flowers

Rooster’s eye (Sanvitalia procumbens)

There are plants that can easily brighten the day by just looking out onto the balcony or going out for coffee on the patio or terrace. There are orange, red, white,…; some higher than others. On this occasion, we are going to talk about one that has a less curious name: eye of the rooster.

It is a plant that is related to the sunflower ( Helianthus annuus ) and, like it, produces flowers with striking yellow petals.

Origin and characteristics of the rooster’s eye

Image – Wikimedia/ Karelj

Our protagonist is a plant native to Mexico, and from Guatemala to Costa Rica, whose scientific name is Sanvitalia procumbens, although it is better known by the common names eye of the gallo, eye of chicken, eye of perico, vaquita, sanguinaria, grass of chicken or toad herb. It grows naturally in bushes, pine and holm oak forests, and in low deciduous forests.

It is a creeping herb with an annual cycle that reaches a maximum height of 20 centimeters and a diameter of up to 80 centimeters. The leaves are opposite, simple, and petiolate, green in color. It blooms during the summer, producing yellow or orange flowers with a brown center.

What are their cares?

If you want to have a copy, we recommend that you provide the following care:

Location

Gallo’s eye is a plant that can be had in rockeries, planters and of course also in pots, but always outdoors, in an area where it is directly exposed to sunlight throughout the day.

In situations with low light, its flowering can be either scarce or non-existent, hence it is not advisable to have it inside the house.

Earth

So that the roots and consequently the plant do not rot, it is very important that the soil, both in the garden and in the flowerpot or planter, is able to absorb and filter the water quickly. It must be borne in mind that excess watering or humidity can cause significant damage, therefore, we advise the following:

  • Pot/ Planter: fill it with universal growing medium mixed with equal parts perlite. To further improve the drainage, you can even put a first layer of about 2-3cm thick of volcanic clay or quartz sand for example.
  • Garden: being a small plant, you can make a planting hole of about 40 x 40cm, and fill it with the mixture of substrates mentioned before.
    Another option is to plant it in the hole with the pot. This is especially recommended when the available space in the garden is quite limited, since keeping it in the container better controls its growth.

Irrigation

Image – Wikimedia/ Karelj

Rooster’s eye resists drought well, due to this it must be watered 2-3 times a week in summer, and somewhat less the rest of the year.

If you have it in a pot or planter, do not put a plate under it unless you always remember to remove any excess water 20-30 minutes after watering.

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From the beginning of spring until after flowering in summer, it is highly recommended to fertilize it with a fertilizer for flowering plants, or if you prefer with a natural one such as guano. In any case, you must follow the instructions specified on the product packaging to avoid the risk of overdose.

Multiplication

It multiplies by seeds in late winter or spring. To do this, proceed as follows:

  1. First, you have to choose a seedbed. This can be a pot -with holes-, a seedling tray (horticultural or forestry), peat tablets, clean milk or yogurt containers and with a small hole in the base,… or anything that is waterproof.
  2. Then, if necessary, it is filled with substrate for seedlings or with universal substrate mixed with perlite in equal parts.
  3. Then, it is watered consciously.
  4. Afterwards, the seeds are placed on the surface of the substrate, ensuring that they are as far apart as possible.
  5. They are then covered with a thin layer of substrate.
  6. Finally, the seedbed is placed outside, in full sun.

If all goes well, they will germinate in about 10 days or so.

Pruning

By having a creeping habit it may be the case that its stems grow more than what was initially expected. If that happens, don’t worry: take a pair of scissors, wash them with soap and water, and cut without fear.

Rusticity

Its life cycle is annual, that is, it germinates, grows, blooms, produces seeds and finally dries in a year. In addition, due to its origin, it is sensitive to frost, so that if, for example, the area where it is grown the temperatures begin to drop below 0 degrees already in autumn, it is possible that it will wither sooner.

Image – Wikimedia/ André Karwath aka Aka

What did you think of this plant? Did you know her?

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