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Clerodendron - Growing Guide
These are very attractive and unusual plants which flower and fruit late in the summer and produce spectacular fruits into the autumn. However only three of the species in this huge genus of tropical and sub tropical plants are genuinely hardy in UK gardens.
The three which are hardy have large terminal panicles or corymbs of flowers with cylindrical tubes and protruding stamens. The flowers are scented although the scent of C. bungei especially is unpleasant. Not for nothing is it also known as C. foetidum. Its leaves smell disgusting as well when crushed.
These plants are best grown in or behind a warm border or a wall to get them to flower at their best. However growers should be aware that these are spreading suckering plants which need plenty of room. C. trichotomum looks wonderful where it has grown as a clump of small trees and suckers of varying sizes in a woodland glade.
C. bungei, the ‘Glory Flower’, is really a shrub which can get killed to the ground in cold winters. It will however readily send up shoots of 3-6ft in height next season. These have heart shaped toothed leaves. The flowers appear in August and September in rounded corymbs of 4-5in across densely packed with purple-red flowers. This plant is easily propagated by digging up the suckers in the autumn or from semi-ripe cuttings.
C. trichotomum, ‘White Tree Jasmine’, grows as a small spreading tree to 10-12ft. Its bark is a smooth light brown and the downy ovate leaves are up to 8in long. Flowers appear from August to September. They are fragrant and white with red sepals in erect axillary cymes. The following berries are bright blue set in a green calyx and quite a talking point in their own right. This plant is fully hard and easily propagated by digging up root suckers when dormant. It can also readily be propagated from hardwood or root cuttings.
C. trichotomum var fargesii has attractive bronze (rather than green) new growth and flowers with green sepals. Its fruits are also blue.
In early autumn these clerodendrons will add interest and colour to the garden as it enters dormancy.