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Duranta ‘Sapphire Showers’

Duranta 'Sapphire Showers'
 
Duranta ‘Sapphire Showers' is a popular variety due to its delicate series of white edged, deep purple blooms with their delicate scent. The leaves are a fresh green colour and the plant displays beautifully in a large pot. The lollipops cultivated from ‘Sapphire Showers' are very attractive due in part to the slightly weeping habit of the branches when they are in full bloom.
 

The mostly forgotten Duranta erecta and D. erecta ‘Variegata' are sometimes still found in older gardens. However, they have generally given way to a completely new generation of duranta. Duranta erecta is a large, semi-deciduous shrub with light green or variegated leaves, tiny bunches of sky-blue flowers, and bright yellow berries. It is no longer cultivated for a number of reasons, including the fact that the sharp thorns make pruning a nightmare. It has also been noted as a plant that has the potential to be invasive in South Africa, and the berries are poisonous to humans. It has not left a gap in our gardens though, because the new varieties on the market have caught our attention with their pretty foliage and flowers.
One of the greatest successes of plant cultivators has been the breeding of Duranta ‘Sheena's Gold', a plant that now enjoys almost iconic status worldwide. It is used as a feature plant by gardeners and landscapers across the country, which is not surprising because the unusual golden yellow colour of the foliage is exceptional. If planted in full sun, the leaves are rounder, smaller and golden yellow. If it gets only morning sun the leaves become larger, oval and pointed, and take on a bright lime-green colour. It does not do well in deep shade and will eventually languish.
The natural size to which Duranta ‘Sheena's Gold' will grow is indicated to be 3 x 2 m, but the plants rarely reach this size because they can be pruned into practically any form or size, and gardeners take full advantage of this attribute. ‘Sheena's Gold' is thus used to form low, sharply-pruned formal hedges, long-stemmed lollipops and all manner of spheres and cubes. We have even seen these shrubs pruned into giant lime-yellow teardrops.

When do they bloom?

You would not expect such a showy feature plant to produce flowers as well, but if you allow ‘Sheena's Gold' to grow naturally and don't prune it too regularly, powder-blue flowers will appear in summer. They're not really enough to get excited about though, but still pretty in their own way.

Most suitable climate

‘Sheena's Gold' is much tougher than it appears. During cold and wet weather (as in the winter rainfall regions), the leaves change to a dark purple colour and many fall off, but in spring they quickly grow again. It can survive short periods of drought without sustaining much damage, but a wilted appearance will be a sign that it is suffering. In very windy conditions, it may suffer some damage but again, it will recover quickly. None of the durantas are suitable for very cold gardens that experience heavy frost.

What they need

Location: full sun or semi-shade. If planted beneath trees durantas must get at least some sunlight so avoid planting them under thick, dense foliage.
Soil: durantas will grow in relatively poor soil as long as it drains well. However, better results are achieved with soil that has been enriched with compost.
Water: medium water requirements. A mulch of coarse organic material is recommended as it will keep the soil moist for longer and the root system cooler.
Fertilizing: durantas do not have a voracious appetite, but they do appreciate a dose of slow-release fertilizer (such as 3:1:5 or the organic equivalent) in spring and again in late summer. Ornamentally pruned specimens in pots can be fed more regularly, using liquid fertilizer, to ensure they are continually at their peak. To retain their attractive shapes they will need regular light pruning sessions in summer – so give them a feed after each pruning.

In a nutshell

* Attractive feature plants for pots or the garden.
* React really well to fairly drastic pruning.
* Disease and pest free.
* Large plants transplant easily in autumn as long as you keep as much of the original soil as possible around the root system.

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