Annatto Bixa Orellana or Bixa Orellana is a common name found under the ingredients column of many edible household products as a colouring agent.
Although it is not very easy to grow, once you are successful, annatto or the lipstick plant as they are commonly known, does not only offer the rare annatto seeds used for dying food but also adorns your garden with its beautiful pink flowers.
The annatto does not need much care besides proper sitting and adequate watering.
Mulch can be applied around the plant.
As annatto is a tropical plant, it needs to be kept in full or partial sunlight. This plant should be protected from frost meticulously.
Annatto needs at least need 10 hours of direct sunlight daily.
The annatto needs a clayey, loamy, silty and well-drained soil to grow well. The soil must contain plenty of organic humus. Ideally, the pH of the soil should be maintained from 6.5-7.5. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy.
Annatto, being a tropical plant, needs only moderate watering. As stated earlier, the soil should be moist but not soggy. Irrigation is one of the key concerns in growing annatto.
Annatto plants bear beautiful pink flowers which are an appealing source of food for honey bees.
After the flowers fade, they give way to the seeds which are fiery red in colour and slightly tapered at the ends.
The seeds should be soaked in a moist cloth before sowing to allow water to pass through the seed coat during germination. The radical end of the seed should be nicked if it is under 2 weeks old.
Ideally, soil temperature should be 24 degrees Celsius.
The height of the annatto plant is about 6-10 meter. It can be classified as a tall shrub or a small evergreen tree.
This plant does not have insect or disease problems. Sunlight and proper irrigation will keep the plant healthy.
The annatto plant is very tender. Therefore, it must be re-potted carefully and not during frost.
The flowers of the annatto plant serve ornamental purposes and also as a sought-after food for honeybees.
The seeds of the annatto fruit is a used as a colouring for food like cheese etc.