Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

'Star Performer' Loves the Heat

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

'Star Performer' Loves the Heat

Article excerpt

GARDENING

NEIL FISHER

NO MATTER where you live in Central Queensland, you cannot avoid the heat of summer. Whether it is the blustering dry heat of the west to the obsessive humidity of the coast, it is uncomfortable outside in the middle of the day.

Even many plants in the garden are also showing signs of heat stress.

But not all plants are suffering, some plants are flourishing, many are in full bloom. One plant that has been a star performer this summer is the Mussaenda or Bangkok Rose.

The colourful Mussaenda is native to Asia, so this summer was more like its natural climate. Driving around most towns in Central Queensland at the moment you will notice some of these shrubs producing spectacular, colourful displays.

If you want to create a visual display in your garden, try a mass planting of Mussaenda Calcutta Sunset that has large gold and orange double bracts with Mussaenda Dona Aurora and its large creamy white double bracts.

Or Mussaenda Luz with its large deep-pink double bracts and Mussaenda Queen Sirikit with its large pale creamy pink edged with reddish pink double bracts. Mussaenda Queen Sirikit was named to commemorate the Queen of Thailand's first visit to the Philippines in the 1970s.

Did you know the Mussaenda's beautiful floral colours are not flowers but from the bracts which surround the flowers? In fact, Mussaenda flowers are small and usually white, orange or yellow.

This is the same way colour is produced in other tropical plants such as bouganvilleas and heliconias.

As well as those more common varieties of Mussaenda there a couple of Central Queensland-developed hybrid varieties. Capricorn Dream has spectacular bright red bracts surrounding small lemon flowers. Capricorn Ice produces an abundance of white flower bracts surrounding small golden flowers.

These two local hybrids will grow to 1.5m-2m in full sun to semi-shade, with a more free-flowering habit and a longer flowering period than Mussaenda Queen Sirikit, as well as being more cold tolerant.

Mussaendas are a relatively hardy fast-growing shrub, growing up to 2m in height, with a naturally rambling habit, producing many stems. …

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