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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Panama Rose (Rondeletia leucophylla)

By Staff | Dec 31, 2014

First impression: Tiny clusters of rosy pink florets too numerous to count. I could mistakenly think these flowers were Lantana or Pentas, but they are not blooming off the proper looking plant.

This bushy multi-stemmed shrub has oodles of light green to gray, herby, linear leaves. I detect a slightly sweet fragrance, more so at dusk and nighttime. I can’t remember when this superstar was without flowers. Wow — what a gardener’s dream come true!

You can follow this never ending floral display to the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: The Panama Rose is a nonnative who hails from Mexico and Panama. It is among my most asked about, “What is this?” plant. It blooms for us all year round, with flowers clustered together, because they are teeny tiny florets of red to pink funnel shaped five petals that are delicately fragrant at dusk and night time.

They make great cut flowers; I have successfully placed them in vases and admired them in my home for several days. Flowers that are numerous and dense soon become one of the hard-working stars in our gardens. The evergreen leaves are linear and small in a matte silvery green color.

It can be planted alone or grouped together. Mature height is 3-5 feet. It is multi-trunked, and has a natural upright bushy like shape. Easy to care for, I shape and prune only to fit the space needed. This sun to partial-shade lover needs good drainage and regular watering to do well.

When introducing new foliage in your garden, here are a few suggestions for success. Remember, your plants whether exotic or native need initial attentive care for a healthy beginning. Plant in a hole dug a little larger than the rootball. The most common planting error is placing your new addition too deep. Always plant to the level your plant was in the container or higher. The trunk is extremely sensitive, and planting too deeply may cause root suffocation, nutritional deficiencies, root-rot disease and, frequently, loss of your plant. Once planted, I like to loosen the dirt around the hole gently with my shovel. This will allow water to seep around your new plant and invite the roots to grow out.

Watering is essential to establish your newbie. Newly planted landscape need daily watering for approximately 2 to 3 weeks. Once they are established, supplemental watering might be needed when the plant exhibits that weeping quality, telling you that it’s thirsty. At any stage of growth of your Panama Rose, you can expect pollinators and people to flock to its blooms!


Forever blooming

Natural shape

Drought tolerant

You gotta have at least one

Pollinators love it

Hummers love it

Mild salt tolerant

Non Invasive

Holds a natural shape

Evening fragrance

Hard working looks good but not a Diva!


Cold sensitive

Blooming brings in the pollinators

Who doesn’t love Hummers?

Non native.

Conclusion: You’re not gonna believe this over-achiever filled with flowers. She asks for so little and gives so many blossoms.sighhhh there’s never enough time in our tropical, eye-catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!