961 Clerodendrum paniculatumCommon Names: pagoda flower Family: Verbenaceae (verbena or vervain Family)
Pagoda flower is an erect, open semiwoody shrub with large evergreen leaves and huge showy clusters of orange-red or scarlet flowers held above the foliage. The bush sometimes has multiple stems and gets 3-5 ft (0.9-1.5 m) tall, spreading 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) across. The leaves have heart shaped bases; lower leaves are lobed and upper leaves entire. The handsome, tropical looking leaves can be as large as 12 in (30.5 cm) across. They are arranged in opposite pairs along the fast growing stems which often branch from the roots rather than from a single trunk. The flowers are funnel shaped with long tubes. Although the individual flowers are only about 0.5 in (1.3 cm) long, they are arranged in massive terminal panicles up to 1 ft (0.3 m) or more in height. The flowers within the pyramid shaped cluster are tiered, like a Japanese pagoda. The showy display lasts from summer through autumn with additional sporadic flowering throughout the year in frost free climates.
Pagoda flower, Clerodendrum paniculatum, is native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and much of southeastern Asia. It is widely cultivated in tropical gardens throughout the world.
CulturePagoda flower is a fast growing, but short lived shrub. It does best in a rich, slightly moisture retentive soil. Fertilize regularly with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season. Light: Full sun is best, but pagoda flower will tolerate partial shade. Moisture: Water freely during the growing season, but sparingly during winter. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. Pagoda flower is a returning perennial in zones 8B and 9. It can be expected to sprout back in spring after dying to the ground in winter. Very severe winters may reduce the amount of flowering. Plant it near a south facing wall for added protection from cold winters. In frost free areas pagoda flower is a short lived, evergreen shrub. Propagation: Pagoda flower in cultivation often fails to produce fruit and seeds. The suckers that arise around the base of the plant can be removed and replanted during fall or spring. Root cuttings can be taken in winter. Semiripe stem cuttings taken in summer can be rooted with bottom heat.
Pagoda flower is often grown in a mixed border or as a specimen along a wall, even under an overhanging roof. This long blooming perennial is a classic old favorite, grown in city parks and cottage gardens throughout the Deep South. In frost free areas it may produce flowers for most of the year. With its lush tropical foliage, however, it is as beautiful in leaf as it is in flower. Pagoda flower may produce numerous suckers and spread itself around the garden, but it is not really invasive, and rarely becomes a nuisance (it is a big plant that requires a large space!)
Glory bower (Clerodendrum splendens), bleeding heart (C. thomsoniae), and the roadside weed, tubeflower (C. indicum), are also members of this tropical genus which has more than 400 species represented in Africa, the Pacific islands and southern Asia. Sometimes you see the genus misspelled as Clerodendron.
Steve Christman 9/23/02, 9/7/03