Lo and behold I discovered yet another source of color for the winter garden. The Winter Starburst Clerodendrum is a large shrub to small tree (8-12’ ht.) sporting beautiful pink flowers in winter with the added bonus of foliage that is attractive throughout the year. Belonging to a group of plants sometimes called Glory Bower, this certainly lives up to that name. It is glorious when in full bloom.
The first one of these I saw stopped me in my car.. what is that and blooming in the middle of Winter? Fabulous. After a bit of detective work I found out what it is. I have seen a few scary examples of Clerodendrums around my neighborhood. Gone wild and not in a good way. I think one needs to be prepared to do some maintenance pruning or pay the price. On the other hand, you could say you were going for the cottage garden look. Problem solved with little or no work.
There are many different types of Clerodendrum – most native to tropical south Asia; the plant types range from vines to perennials, shrubs up to small trees. These plants have some invasive tendencies so be careful who you invite into the garden. This one grows in partial shade and prefers moist soil. Clerodendrum is a good addition to the butterfly garden. Another similar variety that is not quite so big is ‘Pink Diamond’ Clerodendrum, this is also called Cashmere Bouquet for its fragrance (my grandmother used a soap by that name – the smell of the soap would not motivate me to use this plant!) ‘Pink Diamond’ grows 48” high and some have variegated foliage. An additional identifying feature is the back of the leaves are purple year round, this is another good quality of this plant.