Growing Bangkok Rose – Mussaenda

Mussaenda, more commonly known as the Bangkok Rose, creates an explosion of colour when in flower marking spring has arrived.

Mussaendas explosive colour comes from the bracts or inflorescences rather than the minute flower itself. Mussaendas are a member of the Rubiaceae family and are related to Pentas and Ixoras. They range in colour from white to salmon pink to yellow and red, and some varieties can reach up to 2m.

Musseanda is not grown commercially by seed, as this may not be true to the parent plant in colour or form, but seeds are used to develop hybrids or new varieties. Grafting, marcots and tissue colour are used for mass production as the offspring are duplicates of the parent plant in colour and shape.  Common varieties are the soft pink ‘Queen Sirikit’, mid-pink ‘Dona Luz’, and stunning white.

They prefer a frost-free setting and are widely used in tropical and sub-tropical gardening or as a potted plant.  In the warmer regions that are frost free and well-watered they can flower for longer than the spring and summer months. In winter, they can look drab in the cooler regions and even lose their leaves, then is the time to prune and shape the plants.

A good prune after they have finished flowering serves them well and eliminates the leggy appearance of older plants. If not pruned back, they can resemble a rambling climber but generally are kept in a compact form, in part shade or full sun.

When flowering in the garden, feed every three weeks with Searles Hibiscus and Bougainvillea Fertiliser, suitable for Mussaendas.  Enrich the garden soil with compost and a layer of mulch to keep the roots cool and retain moisture.

When in pots, make sure the pot is a good size and use Searles Platinum Potting Mix to hold extra moisture. Fertilise fortnightly with Searles Flourish for Flowers and Foliage. Do not use a saucer filled with water under the pot, as root rot may occur, but a free draining container watered regularly is best practice.

A beautiful shrub with a stunning flower that usually lasts six months of the year in the correct position.  The white Mussaenda is as stunning as the frangipani, white hibiscus and white bougainvilleas in a tropical garden.

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