883 Congea tomentosaCommon Names: wooly congea, shower orchid, shower of orchids Family: Verbenaceae (verbena or vervain Family)
Wooly congea is a fuzzy plant: Fuzzy leaves, fuzzy stems, fuzzy flower bracts. It can be grown as a trailing or climbing vine to 20 ft (6.1 m) long, or pruned as a shrub. Wooly congea has very pretty light green leaves, 6-8 in (15.2-20.3 cm) long. They are evergreen with prominent veins and are arranged in opposite pairs. The actual flowers are tiny and inconspicuous, but they are borne in the center of three showy white 1 in (2.5 cm) long bracts that look like velvety propellers. The bracts gradually change through pink, lavender, and finally gray over the course of several weeks. The abundant inflorescences each consist of several flowers with their attending bracts showering all over the foliage. Wooly congea blooms in late winter with such a total performance that you can hardly see the foliage.
Wooly congea, Congea tomentosa, is native to Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand.
CultureWooly congea is easy to grow in almost any soil type. Prune after flowering to keep in bounds. Light: Full sun. Moisture: Water regularly. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 11. This is a tropical that does not tolerate frost. Propagation: Semiripe tip cuttings can be rooted in summer with bottom heat. Wooly congea can be grown from seed, too.
Wooly congea is a vine or sprawling shrub for tropical gardens, often grown in southern Florida and southern California. It is usually grown on a trellis or pergola or allowed to scramble over a fence. Whole branches with their flowering clusters are useful in cut flower arrangements.
Wooly congea is grown for its wintertime display of showy petal-like bracts. It puts on a truly spectacular display, the whole vine almost completely covered with white and pink. Even when not in bloom, this is a beautiful vine with its soft and velvety pale green foliage.
Steve Christman 12/7/00; updated 5/21/04, 10/25/07