Three-season wonder

Pentas lanceolata PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Pentas lanceolata PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Under the protection of the Winter Garden glasshouse, Pentas lanceolata provides wonderful colour over many months: flowering in early summer, through autumn and well into winter.

Native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Pentas lanceolata grows as a small sub-shrub or woody perennial, as it does in the Winter Garden east wing, but in cooler climates Pentas are often grown as bedding annuals or as house plants. The stems are topped with clusters of small star-shaped red flowers and there are also pink and white forms available. Introduced as an ornamental and potted plant all over the world, Pentas can now be found naturalised throughout the tropical and subtropical regions.

Pentas like a warm sunny spot in full sun or dappled shade but flower better with plenty of sunlight and prefer a rich organic fertile soil. Older shrubby plants form a thick woody base and will reach a height of up to almost 2m, but more commonly around 1.2m. Plants can easily be pruned to keep them in the space allocated to them and still produce plenty of flowers. If used as an annual, the plants are unlikely to get much higher than 30cm.

Attractive as an ornamental plant, Pentas lanceolata is also very useful for attracting butterflies to the garden as well as a range of pollinators and other insects. Used in traditional African medicines, extracts have shown to have antiviral, antibacterial and healing properties.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Stephen Bishop.


 

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter