Leea–commonly called West Indian holly–is an open tropical shrub that becomes dense with age. It bears pinnate leaves 24 inches (60cm) long; each leaf consists of lance-shaped, slender-pointed toothed leaflets.
Leea is grown mainly for its foliage, but it does bear small tubular flowers. Flower buds are rounded and scarlet red; the flowers open pink with yellow anthers.
Leea can be grown in a shrub border or as a hedge in tropical regions. Where temperatures fall below 61°F (16°C), Leea is best grown as a houseplant.
Leea is a genus of 40 species of evergreen shrubs and small trees native to Africa and Madagascar. Only one species, Leea coccinea, is grown as a houseplant.
Get to Know Leea
- Plant type: Evergreen shrub
- Growing zones and range: Zones 10-15
- Hardiness: Tender; grow Leea as a houseplant where temperatures drop below 61°F (16°C).
- Temperature: Grow as a housplant in average room temperature and medium humidity.
- Height and width: Grows in a shrubby form to 5 to 8 feet (1.5-2.5m) tall and 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) wide.
- Foliage: Woody stems bear dark green velvety leaves flushed red to bronze; leaves to 4 inches long.
- Flowers: Flower buds are deep red and open into rose red or pink flowers clusters.
- Bloom time: Summer
- Uses: Houseplant, speciment in tropica regions
- Common name: West Indian holly
- Botanical name: Leea
- Family name: Leeaceae
- Origin: Africa, Madagascar
Where to Plant Leea
- Light outdoors: Plant Leea in partial or dappled shade.
- Light indoors: Leea will thrive in bright light.
- Soil outdoors: Plant Leea in moderately fertile, moist, but well-drained soil.
- Soil indoors: Use an all-purpose soil mix.
When to Plant Leea
- Set container-grown Leea outdoors any time of the year in tropical or subtropical regions.
Planting and Spacing Leea
- Space Leea 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) apart.
How to Water and Feed Leea
- Water: During the growing season water Leea freely.
- Feeding: apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly.
- Prune Leea hedges in spring.
Growing Leea as a Houseplant
- Leea needs bright light, average room temperature, and high humidity.
- The soil should be kept slightly moist but not soggy.
- Fertilizer can be applied once a month in spring or summer.
Leea Pests and Diseases
- Leea is susceptible to mealybugs, nematodes, scale insects and spider mites.
- Sow seeds in spring.
- Air layer in spring or early autumn.
- Take semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
Leea Varieties to Grow
- Leea coccinea, West Indian holly. Open shrub grows 5 to 8 feet tall; often velvety leaves are flushed red to bronze when young; leaes are oval, pointed at the ends and have wavy edges; flower buds are deep red and open into rose red or pink cluseters. Cultivar ‘Rubra’ has metallic green leaves with maroon undersides..