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




Where the sinkhole water came from

The Basin Pocket sinkhole was drained into  gully.

The lab results are in

Boomtime for eastern suburbs of Ipswich

INFORMED: Councillor Andrew Antoniolli says a new reporting system will allow residents to track population and housing growth.

Ipswich population set to hit 200,000 by early next year.

Court hears evidence of drug deal that led to stabbing

CRIME SCENE: Forensic police officers investigate a fatal stabbing on Cobalt St in Carole Park.

Witness tells court stabbing victim wanted drug money to pay rent

Latest deals and offers

Kooza takes circus-goers back to Cirque Du Soleil's roots

The high wire act as featured in Cirque Du Soleil's Kooza.

NEW show puts the skills of the performers front and centre.

Branson "amazed" he's still alive after cycling crash

Branson saw "his life flash before my eyes" during a bike crash

What's on this weekend

LIFE'S A BREEZE: Ipswich Art Gallery's latest children's exhibition, Wind Tubes.

Things to do in Ipswich

LISTEN: Inner-city venues face local Ipswich competition

DINKUS

Charlie Pisasale pushes for local youth to return to Ipswich bars

Reality TV show "turned our special day into a joke"

UNHAPPY: Maryborough couple Emma and Steven Dilliway who star on Australia's Cheapest Wedding and are not happy with the outcome.

Reality television helped turn this wedding into an internet joke

John Krasinski has better sex now he's in good shape

John Krasinski says there's at least one good reason to get jacked

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa