Duranta Erecta [door-AN-tuh, ee-RECK-tuh] is an evergreen flowering shrub in the family Verbenaceae along with:
- Lantana plants
- Bleeding heart Clerodendrum
The plant is native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean, parts of Central America, and southern parts of the United States.
However, it is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical gardens, all over the world, 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 Duranta variety grown is known as ‘ Sapphire Showers’. ‘Variegata’ or ‘Gold Edge,’ and also grown but usually have fewer flowers.
In Mexico, this Verbenaceae species is commonly known with its native Nahuatl name xcambocoché whereas in Tonga it is called mavaetangi, meaning tears of departure.
Duranta Erecta Care
Size & Growth
Golden dewdrop generally grows as an upright sprawling large shrub, but sometimes as a small tree, reaching up to the height of 20’ feet.
Its light green leaves are oppositely arranged, have an elliptic to ovate shape, and grow up to 3” inches long on drooping branches.
The 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 purple tubular flowers.
A few of these plant type varieties also produce white flowers.
In addition to the striking flower color, the long bloom time is another reason why golden dewdrop a highly 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 berries grow in large clusters and change color to dark purple as they ripen.
The ripe berries are also edible.
Light & Temperature
Skyflower plants grow best in warm weather in full sun.
Although they can tolerate partial shade as well, too much shade makes them sparse and lanky.
The plant is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.
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.
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 & Transplanting
Since golden dewdrops grow in sandy and rocky coastal areas, in their natural habitat, they easily grow in rocky soil when cultivated.
However, rich loamy soil is the best choice 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 as well as to 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, which are 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 be 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.
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 a fast-growing weed in many areas.
Uses For Duranta Repnes
As mentioned above, the angel whisper plant is a popular choice for tropical and subtropical gardens, all over the world, 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.
Duranta is also known as a medicinal plant. [source]