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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Starburst (Clerodendrum quadriloculare)

By Staff | Feb 18, 2015

First impression: What is that mesmerizing, unique and super-sized blossom? I am amazed at the oodles of flowers all arranged like a huge starburst. Trumpet shaped, long and slender petals of whites, pinks and maroons are blanketing this gorgeous plant. These colorful combos are a beautiful accent to the maroon and dark green two-toned leaves.

These I-can’t-believe-they-are flowers will make you walk up to our star and shout WOW! Butterflies and hummers love to circle in for the super sweet nectar. Just follow the flying antics to this celebrative display in full bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: The Clerodendron genus boasts 400 plus species of shrubs from warm temperature tropical regions of the Old World. If you moved to Florida in the 1960s and ’70s, gardens were filled with Clerodendrums; they were easy to grow and spread quickly.

Present day, we know all about invasive, aggressive plants, and some of the plants that grew easy back then are plants we have to avoid planting today. Shooting star is not an aggressive Clerodendron and gives you lots of show and color.

New flowers start their journey on the ends of plant stems, so pruning should stop by September. Super-sized blossoms cover this plant, and I can easily count 80-90 extra long white, pink, and plum colored flowers. Each flower has five petals that form a long tube which explodes like curled ribbon at the end. Singularly they are tiny with a spaghetti noodle length. Collectively they are an unforgettable display of color and contrast. Starbursts are the superstars of our garden when blooming. Don’t be disappointed when you search for a fragrance. It is very faint.

You will love still this plant even when not blooming, with its very attractive and large two-tone colored leaves; large and dimensional purple eggplant tone on bottom and a dark bluish green hue on top. Considered evergreen, but the leaves will curl and fall when temperatures dip.

Our star can be planted alone or grouped together, mature height is 10-15 feet. It has many spindly stems that can be trained to be trunk-like. Over the years we have shaped ours very creatively into lovely multi-trunked tree shapes. This sun to partial-shade lover needs good drainage and regular watering to do well. She is a moderate grower and look great nestled in other plants or as a specimen, but enjoys a break from the sun at some point of the day.

If your plant is wobbly from all the heavy blooms, stake with bamboo and stretch garden tape. I trim back to after blooming, post pruning and shaping will help our star to be strong and healthy for future flowerings. During blooming time shooting star always has pollinators and people gazing at its blooms!

Pros :

* Drought tolerant

* Can be shaped to tree or shrub

* Minimal insect damage

* Low cost propagated by volunteers in garden

* Blooming brings in the pollinators

* Non-invasive

* Bring out your inner artistic desires will want to paint or photo it

* Blooming is memorable

Cons:

* Can get twiggy over time, needs pruning

* May tire of the ooohhs and aaahs from family and friends

* Blooming brings in the pollinators

* Non-native

* Cold Sensitive

* Volunteers in garden need to be edited

Conclusion: Always a front row seat available in the crowd, no pushing and shoving neededOodles of blossoms to adore. So many blossoms, so little time in a tropical eye-catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!