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Brunfelsia pauciflora ‘Floribunda’

 
Brunfelsia pauciflora‘ Floribunda'

Brunfelsia pauciflora ‘Floribunda' is a dense shrub that grows to about 2 to 3 m tall. The leaves are elliptical and leathery with a waxy sheen. The flowers, in shades of dark blue, lilac and white, can change colour daily and cover the plant in a spectacular display during early spring. More flowering stages follow during summer.
 
October in the garden means soft shades of flowers and romantic sweet scents, and brunfelsia encapsulates all this in one good shrub: it covers itself in sweet-smelling flowers in shades of deep purple, lilac and pale white. It is these three shades of flowers carried simultaneously that led to its common name ‘Yesterday, today and tomorrow'.

Take advantage of all its lovely attributes and plant one of these slow-growing, large shrubs in a flowerbed near your bedroom window or in a big pot on your verandah. Remember this wise admonition from a fellow gardener when, on one dull winter's day, we stood in front of an early blooming brunfelsia and moaned about inconsequential things: "Don't think about yesterday; it will make you cry. Don't think about tomorrow; it will make you worry. Live for and think of today; it will make you laugh!” This plant in bloom is enough to make one laugh in sheer delight.

When do they bloom?

Brunfelsias are at their prettiest during spring, but they also bloom intermittently during other seasons.

Most suitable climate

Warm subtropical gardens are ideal, but the plants will also flourish in colder climates. They will even endure light frost, but will be deciduous during the cooler months. They do best in regions with high summer rainfall.

What they need

Location: light shade is the best, although full sun is tolerated. They are indispensable in shaded gardens, and provide a special aromatic feast when placed in large pots close to your socialising area. They grow especially well in cooler spots on the south side of the house, where hydrangeas, azaleas and camellias also flourish.
Soil: provide rich, moist soil with liberal quantities of compost worked into it. Just like camellias and azaleas, brunfelsias prefer acidic soil with a pH balance just below the neutral 7, so mulch with pine-needles, moss or acidic compost around their bases.
Water: brunfelsias prefer lots of water during summer. You can water less frequently in winter.
Fertilizing and pruning: from spring to autumn, feed every six weeks using a potassium-rich fertilizer. Plants that grow too big for their allotted spaces can be lightly trimmed back after the main flowering stage; this will control their size and keep them tidy. Some daring gardeners also like to prune them into lollipop trees, which make stunning features. The natural growth pattern of the plant is to spread widely with numerous lateral branches, and to produce as many flowers as possible.

Watch out for this

The leaves of the brunfelsia tend to fade to yellow, much like those of citrus, gardenias and orange jasmine, when faced with an element deficiency. To correct this, feed them with a microelement fertilizer such as Trelmix, or use Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) as a liquid food supplement. Another way of ensuring healthy deep-green foliage is to sprinkle a handful of nitrogenrich fertilizer granules around the root zones and to water it in immediately thereafter. Don't overdo this treatment at the expense of potassium-rich fertilizer, though, otherwise you will have gorgeous foliage but the production of flowers will be diminished.
Caution: due to its strongly scented flowers this is not the ideal plant for hay-fever sufferers.

In a nutshell

* Long-lived, romantic flowering shrub.
* Good candidate for shaded gardens (although shade shouldn't be too deep).
* Pretty in pots.
* Sweet unmistakable scent that always makes you homesick when you catch its fragrance in someone else's garden.

 

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Comments (3) Comments
Comment by Kathryn Derby on Sat, May 24th, 2014 at 12:19 AM
We saw these beautiful shrubs in Mexico. I wonder if they would grow here in a tub that is brought in for the winter. We are in Kingston, ON Canada. It is fairly moderate because of being at the junction of the St. Lawrence R. and Lake Ontario.
Comment by Manita Scocimara on Thu, Aug 8th, 2013 at 6:38 AM
I cannot wait to see my little, very well travelled plants bloom!thank you for all details. We have plenty of pine needle around to render their soil a bit acidy.
Comment by Manita on Fri, Jul 12th, 2013 at 9:51 PM
I transported three tiny plants in my suitcase from NY to Greece, in an island off the Westrn Coast. In spite of the travel atress from Florida to NY and 4 weeks later to Greece, they have now doubled in size. Two are 18" high planted in pots under some shade. The third, in full sun, seems shyer.
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