Friday, 1 April 2016


Flower of the Month - April 2016

Pentas is an excellent small shrub (depending on the cultivar) for Coffs Coast gardens and belongs to the Rubiaceae family of plants. Quite a few cultivars will grow to around a metre in height (or more), with summer and autumn flushes of flowers. These blooms are like neat round bouquets of tiny stars in colours of red, white, lavender, purple, cerise and various shades of pink. 

Pentas is one of those plants like coleus and vinca that has become widely known by its Latin name instead of a different common name. The genus is so-named because there are five lobes at the end of each tubular flower.

Seen left, Pentas 'Butterfly light lavender'

Some have flowers with a white stripe on the petals, and there is a cultivar known as 'Touch of Ice' (seen right) that has an interesting variegated leaf. It is not as robust as most of the others though. 

These shrubs are at their very best in sunny spots but flower reasonably well in part shade - the red variety is particularly reliable in this regard and is useful for providing a glow of colour in gloomy spots. 

Seen left is Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Deep Red'.

The soil for growing Pentas just needs to be ordinary, well-drained soil. With the occasional watering to establish and significantly for us here, they don't seem to mind the deluges of rain we have on the Coffs Coast. 

Seen right, is the beautiful Pentas Northern lights. 

Sometimes Pentas get a bit untidy looking, it is a good practice to deadhead by cutting down to the first double leaf and giving the shrub a really good prune in August before the weather really warms up.

Seen left (with a visitor) is Pentas Graffiti white

Cuttings are fairly easy - I've known folk who had success from a bloom that was offered as part of a flower posy! So it would be my guess to place in water for about a week before potting in propagating medium.

Pentas 'Kaleidoscope appleblossom
Pentas mix excellently with other warm climate summer perennials such as Salvia, Dahlia and Canna. They are a very worth-while inclusion to any garden as they are such good performers and to boot, they are terrific cut flowers and may last well over a week inside........ I guess the only improvement to nature would be for them to have a lovely fragrance!

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