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New Plant Proves Prolific

This article was first published on 23 Apr 2013.

Iochroma grandiflorum

Iochroma grandiflorum

A fairly new plant in the collection has impressed me with its long flowering period this summer.  Iochroma grandiflorum has been flowering since Christmas and is still putting on a good display with its graceful tubular hanging bells.  Flowers are a light purple but darken towards the base and usually grow in clusters of 6-8.  The young stems and large leaves are covered in fine, glandular hairs and give the plant a rather sticky feel about it.

This shrub is growing in the sub-tropical wing, the east wing of the Winter Garden Glasshouse.  It is so rampant it has gained a height of almost 3m, to the roof of the glasshouse.  It regularly has to be pruned to keep it in check and stop it smothering other plants.  But the high maintenance is well worth the benefits the plant offers, such as its long flowering display.

Even though it is from tropical America, this shrub will still grow well in shaded areas of the garden but certainly isn’t as vigorous outdoors. It will flower better in warm, sunnier locations.  In Dunedin you will need to find a sheltered, almost frost free position such as under trees or sheltered coastal positions. It may drop all its leaves as days shorten and cool, and may not flower as profusely.

It can also be grown in a pot outside and moved indoors in winter months.  A well-drained loam is suitable with plenty of water in summer and sparingly in winter.

Stephen Bishop is curator of the Winter Garden Glasshouse at Dunedin Botanic Garden