Timing always perfect

Brunfelsia latifolia. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Brunfelsia latifolia. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A neat little shrub, Brunfelsia latifolia, has flowers that change colour over a three-day period, which is how it gets its common name, ''yesterday, today and tomorrow''.

On the first day the flowers open purple, by the second day they have faded to a lavender shade and by the third day they have faded to almost white. This plant always attracts attention as flowers of the three colours dot the plant.

It is an evergreen shrub which is native to tropical America. They grow well in tropical and subtropical climates and can even be grown in temperate areas prone to light frosts providing they can be moved to sheltered warmer locations or indoors over the colder months.

From the same family as tomatoes and potatoes, the Solanum family, care must be taken with the seeds and berries of this plant because they contain a poisonous alkaloid. Small children and dogs are most at risk so consider plant location carefully.

Brunfelsia latifolia can be easily grown in the ground or in a pot and flower well if pot bound. In the garden they thrive in a rich, loamy, slightly acidic soil that is free draining.

They like moisture and semi shade, reasonably high humidity and although relatively slow growing, can be pruned back if required after flowering.

''Yesterday, today and tomorrow'' can be seen flowering in the east wing and central house of the Winter Garden Glasshouse in the lower garden.

Stephen Bishop is curator of the winter garden glasshouse at Dunedin Botanic Garden.

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