Browallia Planting Info: Tips For Growing Sapphire Flower Plant


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Browallia speciosa is an annual plant often grown in the home interior. Also known as the sapphire flower plant, it produces brilliant blue, white, or purple flowers and thrives in shady to partially shady locations. The plant produces a small bush that is attractive to hummingbirds. Browallia is a lovely addition to the annual flower garden, container, or as a houseplant.

Sapphire Flower Information

The sapphire flower plant blooms from spring until the end of summer. It is a member of the nightshade family, just as eggplant, tomato, and potato. The flowers are similar in each member of the family, star-shaped, and in blue to white tones. An interesting bit of sapphire flower information is its other name, amethyst flower. The jewel tones of the blooms seem to give rise to such descriptive names.

It is a clumping plant that prefers moist soil but can tolerate dry conditions. When growing sapphire flower in semi-shade conditions, it requires protection from the direct sun so the foliage doesn’t burn.

This is a mounding or clumping plant with bright green leaves. It grows only one to two feet (0.5 m.) high and less than a foot (0.5 m.) wide in most situations.

There are several varieties to choose from. The Bell Series are hanging or trailing plants, while the Starlight Series are compact plants. The Troll Series produces dense plants perfect for container gardening.

Browallia Planting

You can start the plant by seed indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost. Sow in a flat of seed starter mix with just a dusting of soil on top. Keep lightly moist and place the flat in a well-lit location. Seeds emerge in 7 to 10 days and may be planted outside after they have established thick roots and two sets of true leaves.

If you have trouble finding a blooming plant for dark shady areas, you are in luck. Browallia thrives where light is limited and will still produce its bright, starry blooms. Try growing sapphire flowers where the soil is moist, such as near a water feature or at the edge of a rain garden. The plant needs diffused light to prevent it from burning.

In cooler climates, Browallia planting should be in containers, where you can move them indoors as soon as temperatures get cooler. Use a good quality potting mix with some peat moss mixed in to help conserve moisture.

Give the plant plenty of supplemental water when growing sapphire flower. They are not tolerant of drought conditions. When planting Browallia outside, leave at least a foot (0.5 m.) spread between plants.

Care of Browallia Sapphire Plants

This little plant is not terribly fussy as long as it gets some protection from the bright midday sun.

Watch for the usual pests and treat the plant with horticultural soap as necessary. The plant is attractive to hummingbirds and some pollinators, so avoid poisonous pesticides. Provide a collar when the plants are outdoor seedlings to protect them from slugs and cutworms. A toilet paper roll works well and can be discarded or composted when the plant no longer needs protection.

Pinch the terminal growth on this plant to keep it bushy.

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seed, division in late fall or early spring

Performance - False indigo is a Kentucky native and is a reliable perennial in Kentucky landscapes. Because of its shrub-like habit, this plant is attractive in the garden after bloom. Even moisture is best. Average, well-drained garden soil is adequate.

Comments - The tall blue spikes make a spectacular show for about three weeks. The charcoal-gray seed pods are attractive in dried arrangements. No special care is required to dry them. False indigo is a dependable, low-maintenance plant.


How to Care for a Sapphire Showers Plant or Tree

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The "Sapphire Showers" golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta "Sapphire Showers") adds interest to the landscape with its clusters of bluish-purple, trumpet-shaped flowers. Flowers appear in summer and attract butterflies. Also known as Picotee sky flower or pigeonberry, this fast-growing specimen prefers full sunlight and well-draining, slightly acidic soils. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 9 through 11, it requires 12 to 15 feet of space to accommodate its mature spread.

Pull any weeds growing around or underneath the canopy of the "Sapphire Showers" golden dewdrop. Pick up any debris such as dead leaves, twigs and rocks. Spread a 2- to-4-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant with a rake. Keep the mulch 4 inches away from the plant's main trunk to prevent the formation of mold or rot.

Allow the top 2 to 3 inches of soil to dry before applying water to the shrub. Flood the ground surrounding the plant with water from a garden hose, applying 1 inch of water. Apply the water during the morning hours at a slow rate to avoid splashing the leaves. Never allow the soil to become soggy.

Administer a 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer every three months during the growing season. Make the first application in the spring when the plant breaks out of dormancy and unfurls its leaves. Apply the fertilizer at a rate of 1 tablespoon per square foot of soil underneath the plant's canopy. Broadcast the fertilizer granules evenly in a 12-inch-wide ring just under the tips of the branches. Rake the fertilizer into the top 3 inches of soil. Water the area deeply to activate the fertilizer.

Prune the plant in the late winter or early spring while it is dormant. Remove up to one-third of the oldest branches to open up the canopy and increase the air-movement and sunlight penetration through the plant's center. Cut out any broken, dead or diseased branches. Remove any branches that cross or rub against others. Cut back the tips of extremely long or scraggly branches to give the plant a rounded silhouette. Make each cut 1/4 inch above an outward facing lateral branch, growth node or trunk with a pair of pruning shears.

Cut back aggressive branches periodically throughout the growing season to maintain an aesthetically pleasing shape. Make each cut just above an outward facing leaf. Discard the removed plant material.

Deadhead spent flowers throughout the blooming period to promote continued bloom production. Wait until the flower's color fades and the petals begin to droop. Cut through the flower stalk at a point just above the second set of leaves below the bloom.

Observe the leaves for signs of disease or insect damage each time you water the plant. Wash off small populations of aphids or mites with a steady stream of water. Spray leaves heavily infested with aphids or whiteflies with an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.


Care of Browallia

This is a tropical plant native to Peru and must be very carefully cultured in a more northern climate. It is recommended to grow mainly as a greenhouse plant and keep them in pots.

They can be taken out of the greenhouse, and the pots left in the open during summer when they will flower. There are around six species available to choose from.

Browallia is not a plant that a beginner can easily grow from seed.

If you intend to grow this as a pot plant, you will generally be quite successful. I would recommend the dwarf varieties of this genus, including 'marine bells' which have very interesting deep blue flowers, 'sky bells', whose flowers are a beautiful light blue, and the more exotic 'silver bells' whose flowers are white.


Pot your duranta plant using any quality bagged potting soil mix. If your plant is failing to thrive and you notice a plethora of roots coming out of the soil, the duranta likely needs to go up a pot size. Take great care when repotting the duranta, as larger specimens will grow sharp spines that can reach an inch long and pierce garden gloves and skin with ease. Younger plants have few or no spines.

Propagating is not only a cheap way to increase your duranta plant population, but it's also a way to overwinter plants when the original specimen is too large to bring indoors. Duranta plants root easily from leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, and softwood cuttings. Take your cutting in the spring when growth hormones are active. Insert cuttings in moist perlite or sterile potting mix. Keep the cutting moist by covering it with a clear container or cloche.


Duranta, Golden Dew Drop, Pigeon Berry, Sky Flower 'Sapphire Showers'

Category:

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Danger:

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Fallbrook, California(5 reports)

San Jose, California(2 reports)

Cape Coral, Florida(2 reports)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida(2 reports)

Fort Myers, Florida(2 reports)

Green Cove Springs, Florida

Hollywood, Florida(2 reports)

Jacksonville, Florida(2 reports)

Port Charlotte, Florida(2 reports)

Port Saint Lucie, Florida(2 reports)

Sarasota, Florida(3 reports)

Saint Simons Island, Georgia

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Gardeners' Notes:

On Nov 6, 2018, Shannin1 from Chicago, IL wrote:

I love this little tree and desperately want to save it over winter. I'm in Chicago (6a - eek!) I planted it in the ground early summer and it did wonderfully! I dug it up about a month ago for our indoor porch area (western facing, it's in front of sliding glass doors, too). It's been doing ok until about a week ago. Now leaves are turning yellow and dropping, but I am noticing some tiny new growth. Realize it is in shock, but do you think it will survive the winter, here? While it is in a huge pot now, should I still mulch? Maybe wrap in burlap? Any advise is greatly appreciated! Many thanks!

On Nov 26, 2014, lalark from Springdale, AR wrote:

We purchased the plant at a local nursery and have overwintered it for three years. It has always come back in the spring to produce lots of foliage and will flower abundantly when the temperature is above 80 degrees. In fall, we harden it off leaving it outside, near our garage, but covered with a sheet at night for a week or so before bringing it inside the garage as temps continue to drop outside. This duranta is in a large pot, so we give it about a gallon of water per week in the fall, and reduce to half that amount when plant goes dormant. The bumblebees love the purple flowers, so proper placement in the summer is essential! Our bees are well mannered and always move away when we trim the plant.

On Apr 1, 2012, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

I know this plant is rated 9b zone hardiness but I have one and there are a lot of them around here in Central Texas zone 8a , They are die back perennials here and do not get very tall but they are everywhere . I also have the white version it does die back in severe winters but 2011-2012 mild winter it lost minimal leaves and its already blooming .

On May 29, 2011, CostaRica from Guayabo de Bagaces, Guanacaste,
Costa Rica (Zone 10b) wrote:

Perfect plant to 'block' an unsightly building . Makes a great hedge and grows very fast. but doesn't take over an area.

On Mar 18, 2011, rjsecora from Caneyville, KY wrote:

I have this tree and absolutely love it. It was gorgeous all summer long. However, the guy that sold it to me said it was hardy for my area. I am in KY - so I am a zone 6. can sometimes get away with a 7. Last year, I couldn't find any info on it. So the bark is, for lack of a better word, molting away from the stem. I think the winter killed it. Does anyone have any suggestions? Can it be brought back to life? I really loved this little tree.

On Jul 25, 2010, PammiePi from Green Cove Springs, FL wrote:

One of my favorites in the garden, I planted this bush off my front porch where it gets morning to early-afternoon sun. Puts on quite a show when it blooms, since the butterflies, hummingbirds, & bees visit it. We need to prune it regularly, otherwise it gets so bushy it takes over the entry way. Burns back in hard-freezes but comes right back as soon as the weather warms up. Showy pretty berries add to the plant's appeal. Easy to grow & drought-tolerant.

On Apr 18, 2010, katrich from Church Hill, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

I planted the Golden Dew Drop last summer and it grew really fast to a great size. Beautiful varigated leaves and blooms that added color to my garden. Other than watching out for the thorns, I love it. Where it was planted, it didn't get a lot of sunshine and it didn't make it through the winter so I plan on purchasing more to plant in a better place as more of a border type plant around our property. I had put it where it would block the faucet and hose area in my garden which it did beautifully but will have to find something else that doesn't require as much sun.

On Feb 15, 2010, chiggerville from Chapel Hill, NC wrote:

Bloomed beautifully the 1st year (2007). Came back from its roots the 2nd year and bloomed but less vigorously. Now, each summer it continues to come back strongly but doesn't bloom until it is 10' tall (late Aug) and then only slightly.

On Oct 24, 2009, vbanderson from Indianapolis, IN wrote:

I need advice. I am in Indianapolis IN and received this plant as a gift. (Sapphire Showers Duranta - Tree) It has been beautiful all summer. How can I properly help this tropical plant through our winter in the north and still have a beautiful blooming healthy plant next season? Responses are appreciated. I am not a plant "techie". [email protected] Thank you.

On Aug 3, 2009, turektaylor from Elizabeth City, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

i love this bush and so do the hummers, hummingbird moths and bees ! it blooms like gangbusters , takes a break for a few weeks and does it all over again and again! it's truly a treasure in my garden. it has returned , even after the coldest winter in 15 years.

On Jul 31, 2007, CAT123 from Aripeka, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I live right on the Gulf of Mexico in Aripeka Fl. The golden dewdrop,Duranta reopens is very salt tolerant and an excellent wind breaker I've had it growing for 12 years or so and have planted 4 more on my yard plus planted it in 3 more yards all are doing excellent even after being covered with 3 foot of salt water To get it to bloom more I cut it back or trim it to take all berries off. It doesn't seem to matter what time of year as soon as I get old berries off it will bloom again also it seems to have the thorns sometimes and other times there is no thorns very odd about the thorns also it started putting runners off that are growing new plants it makes a excellent hedge with the runner behavior now I,m training it to go right up and down my bank (I live on canal with no seawall . read more ) very low maintenance except to trim and you can take as long as you like with that but the more you play with it the better it looks Oh one more reason to love this plant the bluebirds love the berries I had never seen them in Aripeka before and they stop by every spring now during migration I guess.. I hope this helps I live on a limerock man made canal I have a small nursery and a Garden club Cathys Gardens

On Apr 10, 2007, thistles from Tappahannock, VA wrote:

Had to bring plants back into the sunroom due to the cold spell we are just coming out of and missed the Sapphire Showers. Temperatures dropped into the 20's for the last 4 nights and today I found it apparently unscathed beside the hydrangea. Hope it doesn't object to being in the sunroom tonight.

On Jun 11, 2006, FLtropics from Pompano Beach, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

A beautiful plant that flowers Spring to Fall in my area. I could do without the thorns though when trimming it!

On Sep 29, 2005, mkjones from Aurora, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I'm going to give this guy a neutral it's LOVELY when blooming, and is hardy in my area (planted it last spring and it came back w/lush growth). However, I'm not thrilled with its stubborness to bloom again for me! I've fed it, watered it, etc., but no luck. So disappointing considering digging it up.

On Jun 7, 2005, barbur from Port Lavaca, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is one of my favorite plants. It produces lots of purple pendant flower clusters on the tips of new growth that contrast beautifully with it's yellow berries. Flowers have a light candy-like fragrance. It is a subtropical shrub that I have in a hanging basket. When planting in a container use a hanging basket, tall container or set container on a plant stand. Use a well-drained potting soil, and prune vigorous shoots to keep plant compact and free-flowering. Occasional fertilization will keep foliage green and keep flower production high. In subtropical climates it makes a good specimen in the landscape. Plant in open, well-drained soil in a sunny location and train by pruning. In cold climates it should be planted in a container.

On Apr 20, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I have had my "Golden Dewdrop" about 10 years. I started it from a cutting. It's a large bush with spreading branches that can easily be controlled via trimming. It's a fast grower but requires a lot of space to mature and bloom. Mine are in mostly shade and do very well there. In zone 10 they bloom from April through November. There are no problems with suckers. I have a "White Sky" Alba variety growing next to it. These bushes are great to use to cover up a sore spot on your property, as long as you have room. Along with small attractive flowers both bushes produce smallish beigh/gold berries which birds seem to enjoy. Both colors are great butterfly attractors.
Art


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