Plant Description

Sanchezia speciosa

Sancheza speciosa with Justicia brandegeeana

This attractive foliage plant is native to Ecuador and Peru, where it can be found in the understorey of tropical rainforests. It grows to around 2 m and has large, pointed, green leaves with distinctive yellow veins. It bears tubular yellow flowers in summer (though mine has yet to bloom). It is a frost-sensitive plant, but seems to survive through winter in some Sydney gardens. In cold climates, it is grown as a greenhouse plant in a pot, and put outside in summer.

It seems to grow best in part-shade, in reasonable soil - but will survive some periods of dryness. Keep it on the dry side in winter. It will wilt in full sun on hot summer days. A member of the Acanthaceae family, it pairs well with the yellow-flowered shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeeana), which belongs to the same family, or any other yellow-flowered or -foliaged plant that grows well in shade. It can be propagated from softwood cuttings in spring or semi-ripe cuttings in summer. The best time to plant out these sorts of frost-sensitive specimens is in late spring, rather than autumn, so that they can establish well before winter.

Postscript: despite two attempts, I was not able to keep this plant going through winter. I imagine it would do better in suburbs closer to the coast, though I have seen it doing very well in a suburb not far from mine! A good substitute for it is the yellow-veined Iresine herbstii 'Aureoreticulata' , which grows readily in Sydney gardens.

Of Interest

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Sanchezia speciosa
Plant Family: Acanthaceae