So a few years down the road, when I found myself back in my familiar backyard, I looked for the plants eager to recreate that same beauty. The last three plants were easy enough to find, but not the first …
They may not be the same red variety my aunt had, but they were lovely all the same.
This fast growing annual blooms readily and the clusters last a couple of weeks at least. Its star-shaped flowers are reminiscent of the phlox – but are a lot easier to grow and to maintain in the tropics.
I love to plant the pentas on its own. But I also like to combine them with torenia, zinnia, melampodium, angelonia, balsamina and cataranthus – all of which are stalwarts in our garden.
As soon as the flowers fade, snip them off. Deadheading the plants regularly prolongs the flowering period. This is also when I take cuttings for propagation. Done regularly, I get a continuous supply of healthy robust pentas plants to take over from spent and tired ones.
So one plant goes a long way – unless laziness gets the better of me, of course. When that happens, I just get another on my next visit to the garden centre. Not a bad investment for just a couple of dollars.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep a lookout for the one that refuses to be found.
Care and propagation: Full sun, well-drained soil, water generously preferably in the mornings. If you have to water the pant late in the evenings, avoid wetting the leaves.