Plants grown for the spring market have changed over the past few years. We use to see just the usual foliage mix.
Now, there isn’t just foliage but color. Color is not limited to only hibiscus tree and bush, but Bougainvillea plant, Mandevilla trellis, yellow flowering Allamanda cathartica, Stephanotis, and Clerodendrum.
Clerodendrum (some say Clerodendron) is a wonderful group of plants that has gained immense popularity over the last couple of years for the spring market.
As is the case with many ‘new’ plants, there always seems to be one well-known variety grown. In the case of Clerodendrum, the variety known as the ‘Bleeding Heart Vine’ or Clerodendrum thomsoniae is the species that fits the bill.
Many of the new introductions have been virtually unknown until growers started producing the bleeding heart commercially. There isn’t a tremendous amount of information available on Clerodendrum.
The Clerodendrum comes in a few different forms both vining and bush or small tree types, and a few that can go either way.
Most of them would be considered tropical except for ‘Bungei’ pink. This variety can survive outside throughout the South and up into the northern coastal areas.
Flowers and leaf shapes vary greatly from the familiar urn-shape to tight clusters of small florets and small slender leaves to large round ones.
Clerodendrums are not real fussy of the soils that they will grow in but prefer a rich well-drained soil that will hold some water. All varieties grow well with an even balanced fertilizer program and are vigorous growers.
All the growers in south Florida grow their plants in full sun but they will tolerate some shade. If fact, many of the large leaf bush types prefer a woodland setting (shade from high trees.)
Although the variety name ‘Bungei’ will grow in more temperature zones and is a hardier variety; Clerodendrums grow best in a temperature range of 60-85 degrees.
Regular watering is best. Some of the varieties do display some drought tolerance, but for best performance and flower display, water regularly.
For small to large containers these plants are usually trellised. Some are also grown as patio or landscape plants in 1-2 gallon pots.
The variety ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Ugandense Blue’ make excellent standard trees and you can find ‘Bleeding Heart Vine’ sold as a houseplant.
However, I question how much blooming you’ll be getting indoors. All varieties must be pruned to maintain their shape.
Varieties You Can Expect
All varieties are good year-round bloomers except for ‘Thomsoniae’, which blooms through fall – spring.
All can be grown for 1-3 gallon production. ‘Thomsoniae’, ‘Java Red’ and ‘Ugandense’ will bloom in 6" or 1 gallon pots. ‘Fragrans’, ‘Mary Jane’, and ‘Bungei’ will outgrow a 3-gallon unless kept pruned.