Duranta Erecta is an evergreen flowering shrub in the family Verbenaceae along with:
- Lantana plants
- Bleeding heart Clerodendrum
The plant is native to Mexico, Brazil, Florida, South America, the West Indies, the Caribbean, parts of Central America, and southern parts of the United States.
However, it is widely cultivated in tropical areas and subtropical gardens worldwide for ornamental purposes and has also been naturalized in many areas.
In China, Australia, South Africa, and many Pacific Islands, duranta erecta is considered an invasive plant.
In its natural habitat, the evergreen shrub is generally seen growing in sandy or rocky coastal areas.
It also sometimes grows in slightly moist, disturbed inland sites.
The shrub, known for its beautiful flowers, is named after a 16th-century botanist Castore Durante, who was also the papal physician to Sixtus V.
The plant is sometimes also referred to as Duranta repens (repens is a Latin word meaning creeping). However, the name was originally used for the smaller-leaved varieties of the Duranta plant.
Duranta erecta also has several common names.
The most widely used ones are:
- Golden dewdrop
- Sky Flower
- Brazilian skyflower
- Pigeon berry
- Angel whisper
The most popular varieties of Duranta grown are ‘ Sapphire Showers,’ ‘Variegata’ or ‘Gold Edge.’ Variegata usually has fewer flowers.
In Mexico, this Verbenaceae species is commonly known by its native Nahuatl name xcambocoché whereas in Tonga, it is called mavaetangi, meaning tears of departure.
Duranta Erecta Quick Care Tips
- Botanical Name: Duranta Erecta
- Common Name(s): Golden Dewdrop, Skyflower, Brazilian skyflower, Pigeon berry, Angel whisper
- Synonyms: Duranta Repens, Duranta Plumieri
- Pronunciation: door-AN-tuh ee-RECK-tuh
- Family & Origin: Verbenaceae family, native to Mexico, Brazil, Florida, South America, the West Indies, the Caribbean, Central America
- Growability: Easy to grow
- Grow Zone: USDA zones 10-11
- Size: Can grow up to 20 feet tall and wide
- Flowering: Blooms with light blue, lavender, or pale violet tubular flowers in spring through frost
- Light: Full sun to partial shade
- Humidity: 50% or higher humidity levels
- Temperature: Warm temperatures between 75° and 90° degrees Fahrenheit
- Soil: Rich loamy soil or fertile, well-drained soils
- Water: Water regularly, but do not overwater
- Fertilizer: Fertilize with all-purpose general fertilizer in the growing season once a month
- Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to whiteflies, nematodes, and anthracnose. It may also be prone to root rot if overwatered.
- Propagation: Can be propagated through stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, or seeds
- Plant Uses: Can be used as a hedge, screen, or accent plant. Also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It can be used as a medicinal plant.
Duranta Erecta Care
Size and Growth
Golden dewdrop generally grows as an upright sprawling large shrub but sometimes as a small tree, reaching up to 20′ feet tall and wide in warm climates.
Its evergreen foliage features light green leaves that are oppositely arranged have an elliptic to ovate shape and grow up to 3” inches long on drooping branches.
The oval leaves are sometimes slightly toothed. Mature plants also have axillary thorns.
Flowering and Fragrance
The skyflower plant produces tight racemes of beautiful light blue, lavender, or pale violet tubular flowers with white edging in spring through frost.
A few of these varieties of Duranta also produce white flowers on new growth.
In addition to the striking flower color, the long bloom time is another reason the golden dewdrop is a desirable garden plant.
The plant continues to bloom almost all year long, making it an ideal choice for home gardens.
Duranta repens also produces small yellow or orange-colored fruits.
The orange berries grow in large clusters and change color to dark purple as they ripen.
The ripe berries are also edible.
Light and Temperature
Skyflower plants grow best in warm weather in full sun.
Although they can also tolerate partial shade or light shade, too much shade makes them sparse and lanky.
The plant is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. It thrives in warm temperatures ranging between 75° and 90° degrees Fahrenheit.
Bring your container dewdrop plants indoors when the temperature falls below 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C).
Watering and Feeding
Duranta species require a moderate amount of water.
When grown outdoors in the ground, water the plant to the equivalent of 1″ inch of rain per week.
When planted in containers, let the top of the soil dry between waterings. Moreover, it prefers humidity levels of about 50% or higher.
Brazilian sky flower plants are not heavy feeders and grow pretty well without any fertilizer in rich soils.
However, when grown in rocky or lean soils, they benefit from once-a-month feeding with an all-purpose general fertilizer in the growing season.
Soil and Transplanting
Since golden dewdrops grow in sandy and rocky coastal areas, they easily grow in rocky soil when cultivated in their natural habitat.
It can also tolerate a wide range of soils.
However, rich loamy soil or fertile, well-drained soils are best for growing Duranta species.
If growing Duranta repens in pots, make sure the soil is well-draining.
The ideal pH range of the soil is 5.6 to 7.5, slightly alkaline to slightly acidic.
Grooming and Maintenance
Duranta species grows extensively and can spread to a large area.
Therefore, prune to maintain a good appearance and prevent it from invading the boundaries of other surrounding plants.
Cutting back the plant in winter encourages healthy blooming in spring.
How To Propagate Duranta Repens
Angel whisper plants naturally reproduce through seeds spread far and wide by birds.
For propagation, softwood cuttings, stem cuttings, and leaf cuttings are generally used because they root easily.
However, they are also grown from seeds.
Spring is the best time to take cuttings because the plant is actively growing in this season, and its growth hormones are active.
Plant the cuttings in a moist sterile or perlite potting mix and cover them with a cloche to maintain the moisture level.
For propagating through seeds, collect the seeds from ripe fruits in the fall.
- Spread them over a sterile potting mix, pressing slightly into the soil and water moderately.
- Ideally, the seeds should be placed at 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C) in constantly moist soil.
- In the right conditions, germination will take place within 30 to 60 days.
Duranta Erecta Pest or Diseases
Outdoor golden dewdrop plants generally remain pest and disease-free.
However, when grown indoors, they may be affected by whiteflies and nematodes. They are also prone to Anthracnose Disease.
The leaves and unripened berries of the plant are known to be highly toxic to children and pets; they are fatal.
However, the berries become edible once they get ripe.
Songbirds (oscines) are known to consume unripe fruits without experiencing any negative effects.
The colorful flowers and berries are highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.
Birds also play a key role in seed dispersal and are the major reason why sky-flower plants become fast-growing weeds in many areas.
Uses For Duranta Repnes
As mentioned above, the angel whisper plant is popular for tropical and subtropical gardens worldwide, mainly because of its colorful and all-year-long blooming flowers.
The family Verbenaceae member is also grown as a hedge plant.
Since dewdrop plants grow and spread quickly, they are also often used to fill up empty spaces in gardens.
They also make an amazing windbreak, screen, or container plant around water features, pools, and patios.
Duranta is also known as a medicinal plant and can ba a winter houseplant. [source]