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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Starburst grows super-sized blossoms

By Staff | Feb 6, 2016

The starburst can be planted alone, or grouped together, maturing at heights between 10 to 15 feet. PHOTO BY ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Starburst (Clerodendrum quadriloculare)

First impression: What is that mesmerizing, unique, 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! Just listen for the exclamations around 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 1960 and 70’s, gardens were filled with Clerodendrums, they were easy to grow and spread quickly. Present day, we know all about invasive, aggressive plants so, plants that grew easy back then are plants we have to avoid planting today.

Shooting star is not an aggressive Clerodendron that still 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. 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, but collectively they are an unforgettable display of color and contrast.

Starbursts are the super stars of our garden when blooming. Don’t be disappointed when you search for a fragrance, it is very faint. You will still love this plant even when not blooming, with its very attractive with 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 looks great nestled in other plants, or as a specimen, but enjoys a break from the sun at some point of the day. During blooming time Shooting Star always has pollinators and people gazing at its blooms!

Pros:

Drought tolerant

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 ooohh’s and aaah’s from family and friends

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 needed . . . oodles of blossoms to adore. So many blossoms, so little time in a tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!