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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

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.


  1. The cuttings I got from you are growing with abandon.I cannot wait 'til I get them in the ground!

  2. That is a beautiful plant! I do not know how I missed it in the garden centers around St. Pete as I am up and down their aisles constantly!

    You mentioned it will grow as far north as zone 8...I imagine it would be an annual in North Carolina...I will be looking. Thanks for great pics.

  3. Meems, I planted one at Hillsborough and it just started blooming, can't wait until it grows tall and sends out babies. A great plant for a large space.The tropical garden has really taken off and I am going to send you photos. Thanks for all your inspiration. Janis

  4. Meems, It sure is a beauty! It looks so lovely in your garden with that intense red and then the berries! It wouldn't like my garden, but I think i could like it! gail

  5. All those beautiful photos make me very happy I took a little seedling from you! It is happily adapting and growing in my garden. I can't wait until this spring/summer when I can have those gorgeous blooms.

  6. That is beautiful! I wonder if it is cold-hardy enough for zone 9a?

  7. It really is a beautiful flower...and it blooms for such a long period...another plus. Now when I look at your photos I can picture where these plants are nice.

  8. Love those panicles of bright red blooms! And the shrub has a lovely form and such pretty, tropical looking leaves. Sadly, I do not have this Clerodendrum species. I grow four other species that actually must be very different, as they love the sun and are impervious to drought. Never have I seen wilted leaves on them. But then again, they are very similar, in that they too love to run at the roots.

  9. Such a stunning shrub! Sadly, this might not be a good cadidate for my tiny garden. "Sigh"...

  10. Hi, Meems. I love this clerodendron, but it takes up too much room for my garden. Down here, it needs shade to survive, which makes it particularly useful for that shady spot.


  11. Chris,
    Oh good, that's what I love to hear.

    Not surprising as I've not ever seen it in a garden center either. I'm not sure how it would fare in NC but it would be worth a try even if it never gets as large. Would love to share one with you before you go. Shoot me an e-mail.

    It is perfect for that setting. And if we don't have a harsh winter it should take off even faster.

    This is one of those plants I just wonder how my garden lived without for so long. It was the inspiration in that area to get me going many years ago toward thinking about that bed in a different light. Everything in there is very low maintenance.

    They do transfer very easily. You should really notice some growth by next summer.

    It will freeze back but should do well for you (zone 9a) on its return in spring.

    Having a better visual is always a nice connection. I put one of these in the SE corner earier summer and it is blooming. I'm not sure I have the room for it to spread like this one but I'm taking my chances.

  12. FG,
    Susan just passed along a glory bower to me and I have bridal veil(I think that's what you call it) and bleeding heart and starburst (but I never get to see its winter bloom for it freezing back). That's all I can think of off hand. All are very easy to grow and quite hardy. I LOVE your musical notes.

    This is one you probably will have to by-pass due to its size. It would really not be a good situation in about 5 years down the road. Good thing there are lots more choices for you.

    It does better in shade here, too. One thing I love about this area is the way the pagoda plant fills in around the palmettos and oaks gives it a natural appearance.

  13. meems,

    this is a gorgeous plant. you are so fortunate you did stick it in the ground all those years ago. also, you definitely have a gold mine in your pass~a~long the plants friend, helen. you really captured the beauty of your instantly says tropical.
    happy september.hugs sister.

  14. There may be some variation within this species. Mine in Orlando (Zone 9B) have the taller flower spikes and the more coral-colored blooms like your photo from north Florida. They are mostly shaded so the leaves are flat, and they rarely set any seed. Also, my leaves have pointed lobes, rather than the heart-shape of your foliage. In fact yours looks almost like an intermediate form between C. paniculatum and C. speciosissimum. I'm planning to do profiles of my Clerodendrums later this fall. This would be an interesting topic for future study!

  15. Oh, now I have to get one of those!

  16. The pictures from your garden are Clerodendrum Japonicum, the Lighter orange flower with heavier lobed leaves is C. paniculatum. I have both in my garden in Gainesville. Not just culture or variants, 2 different plants. Your Japonicum is doing sooo much better than mine.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

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Tropical Pathway