Lifestyle

Mussaenda shrubs add beauty to the humble Aussie garden

The mussaenda Queen Sirikit.
The mussaenda Queen Sirikit.

SHRUBS have much to offer the garden.

They are generally quite long-lived, which means that, apart from a bit of TLC every now and then, you can plant them and (hopefully) they will keep doing their job for years to come.

Unlike annuals, which need to be replaced every few months, shrubs just keep on going, year after year after year.

One of my favourite shrubs is the mussaenda (pronounced muss-ay-end-a), a beautiful shrub native to the tropics, from West Africa through the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia and southern China.

There are more than 200 known species, but only a few are used in landscaping.

The appeal of the mussaenda lies in its extraordinary inflorescence, the flowering part of the plant.

The flower itself is a tiny simple yellow star, only about 5mm across, but the parts surrounding the flower are stunning - extraordinary pendulous bunches of soft, beautifully coloured "flowers", with each "petal" up to 10cm long.

The leaves are mid-green, deeply veined and pointed, with a soft, velvety feel.

Because the shrubs are deciduous in our climate, the effect is dramatic as they quickly grow from bare stems, usually cut back hard in the late winter, into magnificent specimens 1.5-2.5m tall, and covered in these great bunches of "flowers".

The white mussaenda.
The white mussaenda.

Once established, these shrubs look absolutely spectacular for many months, usually from about September through until May.

So you will have colour for most of the year, apart for a few months in winter when they are dormant.

A number of very showy cultivars of Mussaenda philippica have been developed, mostly in The Philippines and Thailand, and it is these cultivars that you are likely to find in your local garden centre.

Dona Aurora is named after Dona Aurora, the wife of a former president of the Philippines.

It is very showy, with huge white pendant masses surrounding deep golden yellow flowers.

Queen Sirikit, named for the queen consort of the King of Thailand, is among the most spectacular, with masses of ivory to pale pink bunches.

Dona Luz, commonly known as the Bangkok Rose, is peachy pink, sometimes with a deep pink to red edge.

Calcutta Sunset is much brighter, with yellow to orange bracts.

Mussaendas require very warm temperatures for propagation, and so they are generally only available from mid-January through until autumn.

They are certainly worth including in the garden, as they are very hardy and will flower profusely for years.

Plant your mussaenda in a sunny to partly shaded position, with a bit of protection from strong winds.

Because they grow so quickly during the warmer months, the branches can be a bit soft and prone to damage in exposed sites.

They are not particularly fussy about soil or position, but do appreciate a good mulching and plenty of feeding once the leaves emerge in spring.

Cut them back quite hard in late winter. A good prune will help promote growth and result in much better flowering.

 

>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  flowers, gardening, lifestyle, plants



Penthouse in beach paradise

Take in the beach front views from the balcony of 701/ 4-10 Douglas Street, Kirra.

This beachfront penthouse is the perfect place to enjoy the views.

Tour treks potential Games' course

The Tour treks a picturesque Currumbin Valley course.

Cyclists prepare to tackle potential 2018 Commonwealth Games course

VIDEO: Body found partially submerged at Banora Point

Tweed Byron LAC police at the scene where a body was discovered at Banora Point.

Body found partially submerged at Banora Point

Local Partners

MOVIE REVIEW: Storks delivers family fun

A scene from the movie Storks.

ANIMATION can be hit or miss but when it hits, it hits hard.

Nick 'the snake' to call the shots on Survivor jury

Australian Survivor contestant Nick Iadanza.

LATEST evictee is out of the game but will still have a say.

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

Penthouse in beach paradise

Take in the beach front views from the balcony of 701/ 4-10 Douglas Street, Kirra.

This beachfront penthouse is the perfect place to enjoy the views.

Casuarina sets the benchmark in Tweed market

Our property market is as strong as it's been since the crisis

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction