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By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening” on 970WFLA Live on Sunday’s 7-9am
Landscape Plants That Produce Flowers That Change Color During The Day
Anyone can go into a nursery and select flowering plants for their landscape but few of us may know the color, growth habits, and locations these plants may be used. Additionally, how do you know the plants you have chosen will grow here in Central Florida? Just because they are in the nursery, does not mean they will grow in your yard. In this article, I will select for you some great flowering plants that will provide you some pretty blossoms, but as an added characteristic, these selections will bloom one color in the morning than later in the day, they will change color. Well, if this sounds intriguing to you, then read on. These tried and true plants will give you a show to remember throughout the day. Let’s get started.
The first plant I would like to start with is called the Confederate Rose. I have grown this plant for many years and depending on the size of your yard, you could let this plant grow to a height of twelve feet. Most of the plants I see though are in the six-foot range. This plant is so special that I have seen people stopping their cars on the side of the road to secure cuttings for use in their own yard. If you go to the nursery to find this plant, you should ask for it by its real name, Hibiscus mutabilis. The key characteristic of this exquisite plant is its ability to change the color of its blossoms from white to pink and finally to a bold red. As the flowers begin to open in the morning, they are white. As the day progresses, they change to pink and by late afternoon, they turn red. This change in color all happens in one day on each flower, giving you an ever-changing color scheme throughout the summer months. The flowers are large, and I have measured them from four to six inches in size. They can also be either a single flower or a double flower depending on the cultivar you choose.
The next plant that I will suggest to you is called Brunfelsia spp, or the Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow plant. As the name suggests, this plant changes color during the day producing dazzling displays of purple flowers, which fade to lavender and then white. With a spring through the summer-blooming season almost identical to the Confederate Rose, this plant can also offer you the opportunity to strike up some terrific conversations with neighbors who may be intrigued by this color change.
Brunfelsia will grow much slower than the Confederate Rose above, and they tend to like being in the partial shade, but they can be widely adapted to most any landscape. Most specimen plants I have seen top out at about four to five feet in height. Garden centers do carry these plants, but the selection is usually limited to just a few plants. When selecting your plant to be sure to pick out the largest plant or at least the plant with the thickest stem. Plant your new treasure in an area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. I have seen many of these plants succumb to the heat of the day so make sure your plants are amply watered and receive shade during the afternoon heat.
If a large or medium-sized plant does not work in your yard, then I have a suggestion of a beautiful vine that may fit your landscape and still give you the color change you desire. Rangoon Creeper, or Quisqualis, is a prolific bloomer as the flower’s age, the color show begins. When the blooms first appear, you will notice a spray of white flowers. Each flower will change color during the day into pink, then red. Because hundreds of flowers may be on the plant at any one time, you may see all three colors together giving you a show stopper in your garden. Another benefit of this small vine is the fact that you can train this plant on a six-foot trellis, or if you want, you can plant it in a container. I would recommend that if you use a container, then you should pick out a fifteen-gallon container and fill it with a good quality potting soil. You should purchase at least a three-gallon plant and put it in the center of the container. In time, your plant will produce thousands of blossoms for your enjoyment. Remember that trimming this vine will encourage new growth and more flowers! Best of all, the flowers have a nice fragrance.
The last plant I will talk about is the Mahoe or Hibiscus tiliaceus. If you have a large open area in the landscape that you would like to fill, then this plant may be for you. The Mahoe is a spreading evergreen shrub/tree that can grow to twenty feet. This plant can take full sun and is tolerant of saltwater. If you live along the beach and have been looking for a large plant to screen off an area, then you need to try this plant. I know some people that have wanted to hide an ugly fence or put a screen between a noisy neighbor and a private sitting area. If this sounds like you, then the Mahoe could fill that need.
Although this tree can grow tall over time, the true show starts when the blossoms are produced throughout the year. Blossoms start out by opening to a beautiful yellow colored flower. These yellow flowers will gradually turn red by late afternoon. One of its best features is that this plant is easily grown from cuttings. If you have a friend or neighbor who is currently growing this plant, then just take a few tip cuttings and plant them in one-gallon containers. Water them well and in about a month or so you will have several plants to use in your landscape. Make sure to water this plant during dry spells as drought conditions can injure the plant.
Growing new plants can be fun, especially when you start them from cuttings. The plants mentioned in this article will give you a little extra by turning colors during the day. Water these plants well and pay attention to insect populations when spotted. Good luck growing your garden and remember, without plants, we would not be here.