Growing Spanish Shawl: How To Care For Heterocentron Elegans Plants

Heterocentron Elegans is a brightly colored flowering plant native to Mexico and Guatemala. It has a carpeted appearance in which it covers large portions of the ground with its shiny green leaves.

Heterocentron is derived from the Greek heteros meaning different, and kentron meaning spur. Elegans is derived from elegance, which refers to the appearance of the plant. The name is pronounced het-er-oh-SEN-tron ELL-eh-ganz.

Spanish Shawl (Trailing Dwarf Tibouchina)
sasimoto|DepositPhotos

This is a plant that is part of the Melastomataceae family. It is also known by names such as:

  • Spanish shawl
  • Trailing Lasiandra
  • Heeria elegans
  • Heeria procumbens
  • Heterocentron sessilis
  • Rhexia elegans
  • Trailing Princess flower
  • Pink Lady
  • Schizocentron elegans 

It falls into the 9-10 Hardiness Zone.

It’s one of 29 Annuals That Grow in Sunny, Hot Locations.

Spanish Shawl Plant Care

Size & Growth

Spanish shawl grows to a height of up to 2” inches. It spreads across the ground up to 0.2” inches. 

Flowering and Fragrance

The flowers are the most attractive part of this plant. They are a bright mauve/purple(magenta) color. This creates a stark contrast between the evergreen foliage and the flowers. That is where the attraction is.

They bloom between June and September.  

Light & Temperature

To get the best out of your Spanish Shawl, it should be planted in an area where there is full sun or light shade access. 

There is a greater emphasis on access to the full sun when the temperature is lower. If it is warm, partial shading is adequate. 

Temperatures are best kept above a minimum of between 30° – 41° degrees Fahrenheit. 

Watering and Feeding

Water your Elegans Heterocentron at least twice a month. There is not much need for feeding the plants. 

Most of the required nutrients are found within the soil. Using a balanced formulation to fertilize the plant during the spring is encouraged. 

Soil & Transplanting

Heterocentron thrives in well-drained soil that is fertile. Keeping the soil moist is beneficial. 

When transplanting, you want to allow plenty of space between the plants. Remember that this plant spreads quite widely. 

Each one plant cover up to 40″ inches when the growing conditions are ideal. 

Grooming and Maintenance

Most gardeners will let this plant grow without much grooming or maintenance. To get the best out of it, you may want to mulch and increase watering when the weather is particularly hot. 

This is not a drought-resistant plant. As such, it will need to be watered accordingly. 

Where possible, move the plants indoors when the weather is too cold. The stems are fairly fragile. They do not fare well when exposed to strong winds.  

How To Propagate Spanish Shawl

Propagation is carried out through seeds, stem cuttings, softwood cuttings, and by mound layering. 

If working with the seeds, you must allow them to dry before you plant them. The downside of Heterocentron Elegans is that they do not have a long shelf-life. 

For the best results, they must be planted as soon as they have dried up. 

Stem cuttings have a quick turnaround time when it comes to developing roots. This is especially true when they have access to water and sunlight. 

Before you see signs of life, it is key to water it liberally. The first thing that you will notice is the budding of new leaves. 

Softwood cutting is just as simple. The best place to cut the stem is just below the leaf node. Once placed into the ground allow up to 4 weeks for roots to develop. 

In some cases, you may need to dig the cutting out to check for roots. This is to be done carefully to avoid causing damage to the new roots.

To mound layer your spanish shawl, you can clear up a specific area in order to make the branches more visible. You are looking to identify a long stem. 

Once the stem has been identified remove its leaves. Lay it onto the ground and cover it with soil. Side buds will soon appear.

Once there are side buds, you can separate the side branch mound from the main plant. All of these methods of propagation can be carried out at any time of the year. 

The best results are achieved in the warmer months. Planting them in late winter or spring would be ideal.

Heterocentron Shawl Elegans Pest or Disease Problems

There are no specific diseases that target this plant. It is important to keep an eye out for any deficiencies on the leaves. The most common ones are related to overwatering. 

Damage from harsh weather conditions is another factor to be mindful of. Provide protection where possible. 

Is the plant considered invasive?

When watered too frequently Heterocentron Elegans will spread to all of the areas where there is access to this water. In some cases, they will end up carpeting the entire area. 

To avoid invasion, it is important to be more targeted in your watering. 

Suggested Uses For Heterocentron

The main use of this plant is for decorative purposes. You will find it used to create a ground cover. This is often done next to footpaths. 

Hanging baskets are another way to enjoy Heterocentron. It should be spectacular covering a hanging ball filled with sphagnum moss. Similar to a lettuce ball.

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