What’s Blooming in Paradise: Golden Dew Drop (Duranta repens)
First impression: Wow, what a fabulous display – Cascades of tiny dark lavender flowers draped with glowing yellow berries. A dramatic must have color combo, surrounded by a natural shaped ever green shrub. I notice butterflies all around waiting to sip from the flowers sweet nectar. Golden fruit dripping like dew, hence the name Golden Dew Drop. What a show stopper! You can see this glistening display all day long in full bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.
Upon further investigation: I discover that the genus Duranta hails from tropical South America. Our species repens is an evergreen shrub which has small corolla shaped fringed flowers that are deep purple. Beautifully dotted and lined nectar guides appear in the throats in white or violet and really make this flower gorgeous up close. They are small but numerous in numbers and grouped beautifully in a pendulant raceme fashion. Pea-sized round fruits are just as showy in a sunshine yellow to citrus orange color range. Guess what? The fruits and flowers occur together and cover our star in a show stopping display. Dewdrop is my number one favorite to suggest for hedges. Its growth habit lends itself to privacy with a wonderful display of color and habit friendliness. It’s a great food source for birds, butterflies, pollinators and wildlife. You will enjoy watching garden birds hop from twig to twig. The small Warblers are attracted to the insects that hover around the flowers. Mockingbirds, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Thrashers, and Catbirds not only look for insects but also relish the juicy berries. I have even discovered many birds nesting in Dewdrops. Nests fit very nicely in the grouping of shrubs. Closely grouped shrubs will offer prospective parents plenty of support and multiple exits and entrances to confuse predators. Mature height for this natural shaped shrub is around 10-15 feet tall. I have had great success with naturally pruning it to encourage more flowers. This means no hedging or edging, so that it doesn’t look like a mushroom or box. Plants have a natural shape, which should be mimicked when pruning. Out dated, over pruning is a huge waste of resources and leads to a very unhappy, unhealthy and unattractive garden. Always a winner, for it is in the little or no pests, drought tolerant and few diseases category. I liken this tropical plant to the Buddleia or butterfly bush-which doesn’t grow well in SW Florida. We have many opportunities as tropical gardeners, to be creative with our northern memories using substitutes of southern realities. Your butterflies will thank you!
Pros : Ever blooming Drought tolerant – Very attractive to wildlife – Fast growing – Minimal insect damage – Blooming brings in the pollinators Butterflies may give you butterfly kisses! Great for a privacy hedge/barrier Versatile with pruning Can be purchased as a standard (Looks like a tree)
Cons: Can get twiggy over time needs pruning – Blooming brings in the bees Some varieties have barbs Needs to be cleaned/pruned every now and then of old berries – Non native Will want more and more!
Conclusion: Follow the butterflies to this cornucopia of golden berries at the end of a lilac rainbow. So many blossoms, so little time in a tropical eye catching garden.
Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!