"Plant stars"

These plants bloom for many months in my garden - and some are in flower all year!
Sunday, 07 February 2021     

Brugmansia x candida

This seems to be the time of year when awards are handed out to movie stars and so on, so I decided to look at my garden to see which plants I could give accolades to - for being the longest bloomers through the year. Since last January, I have been recording what is in flower in my garden every month - as can be seen in the 'What's out in my garden' feature of this website. Call it obsessive-compulsive, but the resultant data has been fascinating (to me, at least) and I now have some evidence for choosing plants that have the most flower power in our Sydney climate.

Whilst it is wonderful to have flowers that truly signify each of the seasons, which I look forward to keenly every year - such as the first jonquils and Daphne of winter, the Freesia of late winter/early spring and the Jacaranda of late spring, it is instructive to know the plants that are in bloom for an extended period, as these give continuity and ensure colour in our gardens, and really earn their keep, especially where space is at a premium.

I was amazed to find that several plants were actually in bloom all year - the scarlet and pastel pink versions of Salvia splendens (regarded by many gardeners as an annual, but I find that self-sown seedlings turn into small shrubs that last for several years and flower in sun or shade); the dramatic angel's trumpets Brugmansia species (which have flushes of flower in every month: I have a white and an orange/yellow one, shaped like trees by developing a trunk early on in their lives); the so-called shrimp plant Justicia brandegeeana (with its lime-yellow or brownish-red long bracts); and the unusual Fuchsia Triphylla Group, with their long, slim trumpet flowers of orange, red or pink.

In flower for 11 months is a lovely hot pink Dianthus (species unknown) which I was given many years ago. It is only not in bloom in September because I hack it back hard in late August to keep it compact! The same applies to the perennial Lobularia 'Snow Princess', with its fragrant, bobbled, white flowers, which regenerates well when trimmed back.

Two of my shrubby Salvia flower for 10 months of the year: the burgundy Salvia 'Van Houttei' (which grows in sun or shade) and thepurple-flowered Salvia 'Amistad'. These are usually pretty ratty by the end of winter so I cut them back very hard and they start to flower again in October, but possibly progressive pruning throughout the year might enable them to be in flower in every month.

Some other Salvia flower for nine months in the year: the brilliant blue Salvia guaranitica Large Form; the dark blue Salvia 'Indigo Spires', the sultry navy blue Salvia discolour and the bright blue Salvia 'Costa Rica Blue', which has a rest over the summer months. The 'Wish' series of Salvia ('Wendy's Wish', 'Love and Wishes', 'Ember's Wish' and the new 'Kisses and Wishes') also flower for around nine months; I now prune these in May for an earlier resumption of blooming. The Chinese lantern shrubs (Abutilon) also flower for nine months, also having a natural break over the summer months. The intriguing Plectranthus zuluensis has flushes of its soft blue flowers for nine months from October to June, unlike most other Plectranthus, which bloom solely in late summer and autumn. The pretty self-seeder Linaria purpurea carries on for eight months, as does the fragrant sub-shrub Heliotropium arborescens.

A number of others - Dahlia hybrids, Pentas lanceolata, cane-stemmed Begonia, Amaranthus caudatus, Nicotiana langsdorffii, Nicotiana mutabilis and Justicia carnea - bloomed for seven months in my garden last year, which is pretty good going. Many other plants bloomed for between three and six months - not to be sneezed at! The flowering months for all the plants in my Plant Reference can now be seen beneath the plant information.

We are so fortunate to live in a climate that allows all these flowers to give us such a prolonged display. All are easy plants to grow; however, regular deadheading really does help to prolong the blooming period, as does the occasional application of fertiliser.

Blog originally posted 5 February 2012; updated 7 February 2021.

 Reader Comments

1/13  Carole - 2230 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Sunday, 05 February 2012

Ah than you for that. I agree about the brugmansia, in particular my single apricot flowers every month roughly. I have a white but it is not so frequent and I am waiting to see what happens with my pinks. Very exciting.We have some good flowering coming over the next few months. I have noticed there is often a very good flush after a rainy spell so we should have a good flowering to look forward to, as you have noted. Thanks for your feedback. Deirdre

2/13  Robin - 2121 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 06 February 2012

A timely blog, as always, Deirdre. Perhaps now I can make decisions about what to plant out and what to throw, based on the length of flowering period. More planning and a critical eye needed! Thanks for your advice and website tools like "What"s out" and Plant Reference. Invaluable. Thanks for the feedback, Robin. Deirdre

3/13  Valerie - 4160 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 06 February 2012

I too have pruned my Salvias hard apart from getting leggy, this year it has been bad for grasshoppers that have decimated the leaves of many of my plants and herbs, but that is Queensland this time of year. I also had a lot of trouble with grasshoppers earlier in summer. There is a nasty little black beetle that is getting to some of my salvias too, at the moment! Deirdre

4/13  Peta - 2758 (Zone:9 - Cool Temperate) Monday, 06 February 2012

I love all these favourites of yours, particularly the Brugmansias. I understand that there will soon be a new book out just about them. Can"t wait to add it to my library. I would add Geranium "Rozanne" to your star list. Fabulous plant and a cranesbill that is fine for Sydney and the cooler areas. Thanks, Peta, I had heard there is a book soon to be published. And you are so right about Geranium "Rozanne"! I completely forgot about that one - it flowers for 11 months in my garden - only stops in September because I have hacked it back. A truly great plant for our region. Deirdre.

5/13  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 07 February 2012

agree totally with your comments. I, too, keep a record of what is out in my garden, and have many of the plants you commented upon. Of course, I have to add cane begonias, a white, which flowers the whole year, and another, "Juanita"s Jewel; which flowers continuously. Great blog, as always. Thanks, Margaret. The cane begonias are very good value in the garden. Deirdre

6/13  Marian - 3500 (Zone:11B - Arid) Monday, 08 February 2021

A very helpful list, Deirdre. I must add Euphorbia Milii (Crown of Thorns). Both in the ground and in large pots it never stops flowering. Yes that is a great addition to the list. Deirdre

7/13  Janice - 2069 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 08 February 2021

Thankyou Deirdre, also the other commentators, I second all of you! It has been a wonderful year for our gardens. Janice Yes - so much better than last summer! Deirdre

8/13  Pam - 2159 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 08 February 2021

Dear Deirdre, you mentioned Pentas. I found the blooms excellent as fillers in vases, and they last more than a week. I have even found they may produce roots when they have been in a vase for a couple of weeks. Needless to say I pot them up as new plants! I have noticed that too. Pam. Even if they don't form roots in the vase, they seem to strike better having been kept in water for a while before being potted up. I have grown a few Pentas this way from little posies given to me by a friend, picked from her garden. Deirdre

9/13  Carina - 3135 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 08 February 2021

I am obsessed by both Brugmansias, with 12 different single and double varieties, the scent at night time is heavenly. I also adore Salvias with a wide variety and types in my garden in particular I use them as a backdrop to my large fish pond hiding the workshop that is behind them lol! Sounds great, Carina! Deirdre

10/13  Betty - 3104 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 08 February 2021

I do so enjoy reading all the comments on the various gardens. Amongst others, I love the Salvias. Thank you Deidre for guiding us. I have written to you to find out why I have dropped off your mailing list every Monday morning! Betty, I have checked and you are definitely on our email list. You may need to check your junk mail and perhaps ensure that igarden.com.au is in your safe senders list in your hotmail account.

11/13  Kerrie - 2104 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Love, love love Brugmansias! I have 6 now growing in pots that I've standardised. A great idea to standardise them like that. Must look fab. Deirdre

12/13  Kerrie - 2104 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Friday, 12 February 2021

Can someone tell me more about this new Brugmansia book? Anyone know what it's title is & when it's being released? The book was published in 2012 and is called Huanduj: Brugmansia by Alistair Hay. My blog was first written some years ago, hence the references to the 'new' book, I think! Deirdre

13/13  Kerrie - 2104 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Friday, 12 February 2021

Oh thank you Diedre. I actually have that book. Great! I don't know of any other ones written since on the subject!

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