Thursday, February 20, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold'

It's already spring in this area of southern California.  Plants are putting on new foliage and many are beginning to pump out flowers.  Soon they'll all be vying for attention and it will become increasingly hard to pick a favorite - I can almost hear them crying "choose me, me, me!" already.  I was tempted to focus on a couple of these, Acanthus mollis 'Summer Beauty' and Phlomis fruticosa, but they're nowhere near their peak yet so I passed them by for now.  Instead, I picked Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' (formerly classified as Diosma pulchra).  It has produced a light scattering of flowers all during the past year but it's blanketed with tiny pink blooms now.  It blooms most heavily from winter through spring.

Close-up of Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' in partial shade

This shrub, sitting along the driveway, gets more sun

A 'Sunset Gold' on the other side of the front pathway with another one visible in the background, sited at the edge of the lawn



I have 6 of these plants in the front borders lining the driveway.  Two were added recently as part of my ongoing effort to decrease the jumbled appearance of my garden by repeating more of the same elements in individual beds.  Pale pink isn't my favorite flower color - I bought 'Sunset Gold' for the chartreuse color of the foliage, which is more evident in new plants than those in full bloom.

This recently planted shrub, not obscured with flowers, provides a better view of the foliage 



The scent of the evergreen foliage, which gave it the common name of 'Breath of Heaven,' was also an attraction.  In addition to serving as a good filler plant in the border, the feathery scented foliage is a nice filler in cut flower arrangements.  The soft texture also makes it a nice accent for plants with large leaves or sharp edges in garden borders.

'Sunset Gold' is a dwarf variety.  It grows about 1.5 feet (.46 m) tall but can spread as much as 4 feet  (1.22 m) wide.  Mine are placed around the edges of the front borders.  It's a well-behaved plant and, unlike its taller cousins, it hasn't required regular pruning to keep its growth under control.

This Coleonema album needs a good pruning twice a year and even then can get straggly-looking



Coleonema does well in well-drained soil in both full sun or light shade.  The yellow gold color is more prominent in full sun.  In partial shade, the foliage of 'Sunset Gold' takes on a more lime green shade and it may grow taller.  It requires a moderate amount of water.  It's said to be hardy to 20 or 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.67 or -3.9 Celsius).  It's suited to USDA zones 8-11 (Sunset zones 7-8, 14-24).

Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' is my choice as favorite plant of the week for the meme sponsored by Loree of danger garden.   Visit her site to see her choice and to link to other gardeners' selections.


14 comments:

  1. Scented foliage, beautiful blooms, lovely foliage, what's not to love? :)

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    1. It's even - dare I say it? - "low maintenance!"

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  2. Really a wonderful plant, has always been one of my very favorites.

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    1. 'Sunset Gold' is relatively new to me - I planted my 1st about 3 years ago. I grew only the taller varieties, mostly C. album (which I knew ten as Diosma), in my old garden.

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  3. I like your choice very much, maybe it would grow for me here. I like the fact you're putting more of the same plants in your garden, I'm trying to cut down on species numbers too.

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    1. I'm afraid it's going to take me a while to break my collector habit. Now when I fall in love with a new plant and "have" to have it, I refer to it as "trialing" the genus/species/variety in my garden...

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  4. I have never heard of it, it is lovely. Is it frost hardy? The leaves look like those of Rosemary, is it the same family? I love C. album with its masses of starry white flowers.

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    1. We rarely get frost (it hasn't happened in the 3 years I've lived here) so I can't speak from personal experience, Chloris, but the growers claim its hardy to 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit or at least -3.9 Celsius. It's texture is much finer than rosemary - Coleonema is in the Rutaceae family.

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  5. I didn't realise they weren't Diosmas anymore! What sweet little flowers they have. Lovely :)

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    1. The frequency of botanical name changes is enough to make your head spin, Amy!

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  6. The foliage - color, texture and fragrance - is my favorite aspect of the plant, Loree.

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  7. I would love to plant this but have read that they attract bee's and flies. Can you confirm?

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    1. There are a lot of bees in my garden but I can't say that the Coleonema holds a particular attraction for them - they seem more interested in the Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' nearby. Neither this plant or any other in my garden seems to attract flies.

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