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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Seminole Hydrangea bloom late summer through winter

By Staff | Mar 16, 2016

Plant Subject: Seminole Hydrangea (Dombeya burgessiae ‘Seminole’)

First impression: Crinkled, cup-shaped, bubble gum pink blooms in the form of upright umbels. The blossoms are numerous and emerge from a leafy dense canopy. The slender stemmed trunk and endless stems seem very small compared to the large flowers and leaves. This explosion of overflowing blossoms brings your eye back for a second ahhhhh, at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Our star is highly prized by us tropical gardeners for its resemblance to the northern flower hydrangeas. We had to leave our beloved hydrangeas up north (my north was a four hour drive from Orlando) in a different plant zone. Thanks to this look a like we can grow a wannabe for us sun lovers.

Dombeya’s consist of over 250 variations in size, from small shrubs to tall trees. Different varieties bring in a multitude of ranges for mature heights of 2-50 feet tall. Lots of choices, but the Seminole variety is the most popular in our gardens with their heart shaped (cordate) large leaves.

Easy to care for, I shape and prune mine after the blooming period. Her blooming is so rewarding starting in late summer and all through the winter. This sun to partial-shade lover needs good drainage and regular watering to do well. It can reach up to 9 feet tall and is just as wide. She is a moderate grower and is drought tolerant.

Dombeya’s really look great nestled in other plants. I like to frame our star with a mass planting of all the same variety, kinda like a plant spotlight. Remember, new plants should be planted at the same level, or higher from the container, never deeper. Many plants will die month’s, even years later, if planted lower than they were in their original container.

If your plant is wobbly, stake with bamboo and stretch garden tape. Check monthly for progress and retaping. Stakes never should be a part of the plant’s life. Progressive, corrective pruning should insure removal of stakes after a short time from planting in your garden. Even with stakes, movement from the wind is necessary to strengthen plants and trees. As gardeners we need to schedule staked plants to eventually support themselves on their own.

Dombeya’s are non-native and hail from Africa. Interesting trivia: They are a favorite food of black rhinos. We won’t consider them a threat; I think we are out of their range here!


Gorgeous flowers with lots of blossoms all winter long

Drought tolerant

Attractive when blooming, or not blooming

Non Invasive

Great for cut flowers and dried flowers


Non native status

Will tire of telling neighbors its not a hydrangea

Watch out for black rhinos

Conclusion: Great for all us cottage garden wannabe’s. Are you missing your hydrangeas? Don’t cry, come visit our pom-poms of pink in a tropical dry your eyes catching garden. Don’t want to miss this bloomer