Anita Morton - Growing Gardens

Pretty in pink

While we are all enjoying the lovely azalea blossom, its worth considering another great pink-flowering plant. This is the rondeletia (Rondeletia amoena), a fantastic tall shrub for background planting, screening fences or as a specimen in the lawn. Rondeletia begins to flower as the azaleas reach their peak, so it acts as a great background for them and emphasises the flowery effect.

Rondeletia is deservedly popular in our area it holds its attractive, pleasantly scented flowers for over a month, is evergreen, quick growing and pest free. If you can give the plant its preferred conditions of either full sun or semi-shade and well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter, it will grow away very rapidly, and will reach its full height of about three metres in only a few years.

This shrub is native to Central America (Panama, southern Mexico), so you can guess that it is cold sensitive. If your garden catches the frost, you will need to provide a sheltered spot against a north or west facing wall to grow it successfully. Fortunately, our wet summers and dry winters suit it perfectly, so theres usually no need for supplementary watering once the plant is established. Rondeletia doesnt have a high nutrient requirement either, so dont go mad with the fertiliser.

Older shrubs may have suckers arising from the root system, and these should be removed to maintain a good shape. Other care includes pruning the flowering stems by about two thirds in November or December rondeletia will get a bit leggy if you neglect this step. Also sread a little compost around under the shrub once youve pruned to encourage summer growth and next years flowers.

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