Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Sturdy Summer Perennial :: Pagoda Flower
Extolling the virtues of this tough perennial is a simple pleasure. I've done it many times in the past in my writings on this blog.
If God's creatures could talk they would surely help me express the ease with which this large tropical plant fits into my garden.
Swallowtails of all varieties, bees, and even hummers (occasionally) clamber around Clerodendrum paniculatum Pagoda flower from the time of those first warm rays of sunlight until, on most summer days, late into the evening.
It is one of those beloved pass-alongs from my dear, elderly neighbor Helen. In all my young, ignorant bliss it was started from a cutting stuck into the soil at the base of an oak tree with very little attention paid to it.
That was many years ago. From that time it has gradually spread by runners underground from its own root system. It should be noted that it is not considered invasive but it will take up lots of space in the garden.
Our feathered friends can be attributed with dropping a few that land in random places in the garden far from the mother. I'm sure they enjoy the fruit and seeds it forms towards the end of summer.
It is delightful to see the changes that take place in these amazing flowers. From tiered, cluster-stacking trumpet-shaped flowers appearing at the start of summer, to green and grape-colored berries as the season wears on, every transformation is one to admire. The uber-large heart-shaped leaves are even a favorite when there are no blooms.
Any winter that brings prolonged freezing temps will knock it to the ground. Considered a perennial in this zone, it comes back with quickness and with vigor, as soon as the ground warms even slightly.
In my garden it is sited in dappled shade. Although I've read that it can take full sun it would not be my suggestion to risk full sun this far south.
In north Florida, where I took this photo, the large shrub of Pagoda flower is sited in full sun. You might notice some slight differences between it and mine. The leaves are smaller and appear more curled under and possibly weather-worn but the flowers are decidedly taller. AND can you count the butterflies!
Still, I prefer a partial shade location for the added protection. The leaves will droop during dry periods but perk back up each night. It is drought-resistant requiring no special attention or fertilizer but will do best in a rich, moisture draining soil.
Pagoda flower is easily propogated by digging up the suckers and transplanting them. And generally this wonderful shrub will add lots of tropicalesque zing to any garden in zones 8-11.