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November 4th, 2020

Beauty queen of the butterfly garden

by R.S. Walsh

With such an intriguing name, the golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta) sounds magical, and its beauty is a tell-tale sign for that. If given proper love and attention, the Florida shrub can bring a touch of elegance anywhere its planted.

Violet blooms and golden berries encompass this wild plant, often appearing at the same time to give off a beautiful multi-color look. Both products bloom on and off year-round, attracting curious butterflies and hummingbirds. The whimsical groupings of flowers and berries look quite appealing, but don’t be tempted to snack on this fruit, as it’s toxic to humans. Just enjoy to drooping effect they provide, which fits suitably as an anchor tree for butterfly gardens when trained to a standard or as a lovely small hedge or background planting. Speaking of growth, this plant has got a wild side! With potential of growing up to 18 feet in height and width, you’re going to want to stick to a routine shaping to keep the shrub to a 5 to 6 foot maximum. Training the golden dewdrop as a tree or standard from an early start is also a promising option.

This blooming shrub yearns for full sun, but can manage under partial shade. Fertilization can keep it growing strong and full if done three times per year, in the spring, summer, and fall. Also, pruning in spring and early fall is helpful for maintaining a manageable size, and trimming off old berry bunches promotes the growth of fresh ones. Regular watering is ideal. Don’t fear planting this native among your coastal scene, as it’s moderately tolerant to salty winds. All your hard work and care will pay off once you see the golden dewdrop mature in its magnificence.

This plant is a native beauty queen, as it calls for much attention to retain its attractive appearance, though offers a pleasing affect in its prime state. Consider its rapid growth patterns when planting this islander, and allow for plenty of room to flourish. This piece would fit great in your next butterfly garden or cottage-style landscape.

This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s local garden center located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel.

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