Pleuropetalum darwinii is an evergreen sub shrub native to moist areas of the Galapagos Islands. In containers, the plants reach about 5 feet (1.5 m) tall by half as wide. The dark green glossy leaves reach 6 inches (15.2 cm) long by 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide. Tips of branches and petioles are red, with stems turning ash brown as they age. Plants are fairly fast growing and need very little pruning because of their compact growth habit. Although they are easy to grow, they will not withstand drought or very cool temperatures.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the plants bloom sporadically throughout the year, with the best flushes in late spring and fall. The very small orange-yellow flowers are in terminal cymes. Individual flowers are 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) across.
Culture: Pleuropetalum darwinii plants need full sun to light shade, with a moist soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of equal parts of peat moss and sand. The plants are kept moist at all times. We fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months here in Oklahoma we grow the plants with supplemental lighting to extend the day length. The winter temperatures are never allowed to fall below 60°F (15°C). Plants are watered and fertilized during this period. As a tropical equatorial plant, it does not acclimate to low temperatures or short days.
Propagation: Pleuropetalum darwinii is propagated by cuttings and from seed. Once plants start blooming, there will be an abundance of seed. Seed germinate in 14-21 days at 70°F (21°C). Cuttings are slow to root and will take 6-8 weeks for roots to form before planting.
Pleuropetalum darwinii was featured as Plant of the Week January 11-17, 2008.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.