Brunfelsia Pauciflora ‘Floribunda’ and Undulata

Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, morning-noon-and-night, Kiss Me Quick, and Brazil Raintree, White Caps

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, 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.

Brunfelsia Undulata

Brunfelsia undulata is a sensitive species with narrow and slender oval leaves.

The flowers are snow-white with crenated edges and are attached to thin stems all along the upright branches. New flowers appear all the time. The scent of the flowers is sweet. This is a lovely shrub and although sometimes hard to find, it is definitely worth taking the trouble to seek one out.

When do Brunfelsia Shrubs bloom?

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

 Most suitable climate

Warm sub-tropical 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 a  high summer rainfall.

What the Brunfelsia needs

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 micro-element 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 nitrogen-rich 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.