79 Pentas lanceolataCommon Names: pentas, star flower, star cluster Family: Rubiaceae (madder Family)
Dark green, lance-shaped, somewhat furry and deeply veined leaves provide a lush backdrop for prolific clusters of never-ending, five-petaled flowers. These may be red, white, lavender, purple, or shades of pink. Some are two-toned. All are extremely attractive to butterflies, and the red and dark pink varieties delight hummingbirds. Depending on the variety, the habit of growth may be upright to about 3', or low and mounding. Full sized pentas are often sprawling, as tall stems will topple over. The flowers are held in terminal clusters and self-deadhead. In warm weather the plant grows fast and stays in bloom constantly. Where winters are not too severe, pentas are perennial. They may always be treated as an annual and replanted after danger of frost for long-lasting summer color.
Africa seems to be the original home of pentas.
CultureLikes well worked, moderately fertile soil that retains moisture well. Light: Sun to shade. Blooms better and is more robust in good sun, but will still bloom in shade and look good! Moisture: Moist to average. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. May be grown as a greenhouse plant or used as an annual in warm weather. Propagation: Cuttings in spring and summer.
Splendid in butterfly beds with buddleias, ixora, and lantana. Also a wonderful annual when planted in drifts of uniform color. Pentas is probably underused in landscape flowerbeds. It makes an ideal container plant throughout the summer, and mixes well with any number of warm weather annuals. Red pentas and blue Salvia guaranitica are a good combination and can guarantee visits by hummingbirds, which seem to be drawn magnetically to these flowers!
Prolific flower clusters; lush, dark green foliage.
Steve Christman 08/17/97