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Gulf Coast Gardening: Growing Clerodendrums

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

For a versatile plant that ranges from vine to shrub to small tree, try clerodendron. It’s well suited to Florida, as well as our region’s other hot and humid areas.

Pagoda flower clerodendrum

By Keri Byrum

It is not unusual to find myself walking through my Lowe’s Garden Center with a plant in hand and absolutely no idea where I am going to put it. I try to tell myself the plant is just perfect for this friend or that neighbor. But it almost always ends up in our yard. That was the case when I found this beautiful Musical Notes clerodendrum.

Clerodendrums are a great genus of plants because there are so many different habits among the varieties. Here are a few favorites:

The dark-purple leaves of Starburst clerodendrum

Small Trees/Large Shrubs

Starburst clerodendrum (Clerodendrum quadriloculare) is a fast grower for sunny to partially shady places. Its distinctive dark-green leaves have deep-purple undersides.

Starburst clerodendrum in flower

In late winter and spring Starburst sends out fantastic displays of large flowers. If you want to keep this plant as a smaller shrub, prune it aggressively after it flowers. Starburst can be cold sensitive, so shelter it with some shade and protection from a larger tree. 

Pagoda flowers in summer

Pagoda flower (Clerodendrum paniculatum) is a very upright, woody shrub with a bright-orange pyramid of flowers in summer and fall. It often grows to at least 5 feet, and can reach 12 feet or more after several seasons. This plant has a tendency to sucker from the base, but you easily can keep it in check by removing suckers in the summer. Pagoda flower looks best mixed in with other plants that help hide the woody stems.

Musical Notes Clerodendrum

Small Shrubs

Musical Notes clerodendrum (Clerodendrum incisum) is a smaller evergreen shrub that doesn’t get much larger than 3 feet tall and wide. As you can see, it gets its name from distinctive white flowers that resemble little music notes as they unfurl. Blooming on and off throughout the year, this plant tolerates sun but prefers some shade, which makes the flowers really shine.

 

Bleeding heart clerodendrum vine

Vines

Bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae) is a woody vine that grows very quickly and has intriguing heart-shape flowers. The outer bracts emerge perfectly white, followed by the red flowers that pop from the white. These bunches of flowers appear throughout the year, more heavily in the summer, and contrast nicely against the dark-green leaves. For sun or shade this is a good plant to consider for creating privacy or hiding a fence. 

All these clerodendrums perform well in the Gulf Coast and add drama to your landscape this season. Have you come across plants you just couldn’t resist? Don’t be surprised if one of these great woody plants ends up going home with you!