"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another Fragrant Plant in My Garden -- Tropical Lilac

This Tropical Lilac (Cornutia grandifolia) plant was one of the two free plants I got on Flamingo Gardens Member's Day.  The other free plant is Needle Flower (Augusta rivalis), which I wrote about in a previous post

**Free plants on Member's Day is one of the benefits offered to the members. The other major benefit is that members not only got the free admission to Flamingo Gardens, but also got the admission privileges to other gardens across North America that joins the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program. Miami Fairchild Botanical Garden is one of those gardens.** 

Botanical Name: Cornutia grandifolia
Common name: Troipical Lilac, African Lilac, Jamaican Lilac
Family: Verbenaceae

Tropical Lilac is a fast growing shrub or a small tree for partial sun/shade area.  I will train mine to a small tree to take less garden ground space as well as provide some shade to other plants underneath it.  Mine is still young, and is about 3 feet tall and still in the original container.  Have not decided where to put it in the ground...

It has fragrant velvet leaves. Some says the fragrance is kind of tobacco-like, and others say it is crisp breeze lilac scent (hence the common name?). The scent becomes stronger if you rub the leaves between the fingers, or when you brush against the leaves by walking by it. It is said that its scent is frequently used or imitated in all types merchandise, like chemical air fresheners, candles, scented oils, even the perfume and cologne.   Obviously, the fragrance is the major reason that I chose this plant among the 10 choices they gave to the members. 


It has tall stalks shooting out multiple lavender blue flowers.  The flowers themselves are not fragrant.  Before the small flowers open on the stalk, they look like small fuzzy balls. 


This is another plant that attracts butterflies, which is a big bonus feature for me! 

Do you happen to grow this plant in your garden as well?  Anything else that I need to know to better take care of it?  It has been in my garden for over a month now.  It had a couple of small flower stalks when I brought it home, and now it has about a dozen of those tall stalks in flowering.  So, I guess it likes my garden so far.

21 comments:

  1. Oh, that does look like a lilac! Beautiful lilac color and form...such an unusual sight in a Florida garden! I honestly don't know this plant at all. I wonder if it is ever grown as far north as I live. Now that I know what it is, I'll watch for it at public gardens. By the way, you are lucky to get it free! : )

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  2. Interesting. I'll investigate the plant. I've been missing lilacs.

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  3. I don't know this plant at all either, but it sure is lovely. I know it makes a wonderful addition to your FL gardens. I love purple blooms and am amazed at how many I have. Purples and blues really do something to me.

    How nice that you got some plants for free.

    Enjoy ~ FlowerLady

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  4. I've never heard of it before either Ami! But I've been sitting here admiring it's lovely colour and agree that anything that brings the butterflies in is a bonus!

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  5. Ami, that is a beautiful little tree. I like the idea of trimming it up to be a tree form. I'm not familiar with this plant either but will be interested to watch it grow in your garden. Lucky you to get it for free and already 3 feet tall!

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  6. Ami,
    Looks like you found a treasure in this uncommon plant. It was free, too. I love the color and the facts that it is fragrant and will be a very nice showy shrub/tree.

    Sounds like you have some choices to make about placement and what shape it will take. I suspect when you get it out of the pot it is going to take off since it has done so well in your garden already even without removing it.

    Love the color and form. Can't wait to see the updates on this one and I'm going to try to figure out why I've never heard of this one before. Thanks for sharing it.
    Meems

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  7. Hi Ami, I admire this plant with its soft blue flowers and fragrant leaves. I will look around in my nurseries if I can find it. I can not grow Lilac so this would be a good substitute.

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  8. I've never heard of Tropical lilac before. It's a gorgeous plant...beautiful color, and nice that it has a scent, too. Keep us posted on how it does.

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  9. what a little beauty - its an unknown plant for me Ami. I'm sure the butterflies will really appreciate having that in the garden.

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  10. Thanks all for the comments! I did not realize this plant is an unusal plant since seems none of you have ever heard or seen this. I guess it was a lucky find for me! I will keep you all updated on the progress of this plant!

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  11. I love mine. I grow it as a tree. It is taller than the roof of my house although I cut it back fairly severely (like my crepe myrtle) every spring. The bees LOVE it too. It is always covered with bees and I would not be without it! Needs no care and grows like a champ!

    Enjoy

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  12. I just got a cornutia grandifolia myself. It's been out of the mailing box for a week now and looks happy. How is yours doing? I live in southeast Florida and am delighted to run across this forum.

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  13. I just got a cornutia grandifolia myself. It's been out of the mailing box for a week now and looks happy. How is yours doing? I live in southeast Florida and am delighted to run across this forum.

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  14. I just got a cornutia grandifolia myself. It's been out of the mailing box for a week now and looks happy. How is yours doing? I live in southeast Florida and am delighted to run across this forum.

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  15. Sorry I posted the same comment 3 times. Thought it hadn't been accepted the first time.
    I also got a congo cockatoo impatiens which is surviving our heat so far. It is out in a pot, not in the ground yet.

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  16. Nice. I got mine at Flamingo Gardens free plant day too along with a Sweet Almond Bush. My Tropical Lilac took some damage this week from the cold though and most of the leaves are brown and wilted.

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  17. Joseph, I hope your tropical lilac comes back. It's most definitely tropical. Mine is still a little thing in a pot which I took in during the cold snap. I'm in St Lucie County where temps went down to the 20's.

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  18. I live in east Port Saint Lucie, got my tropical lilac last summer as a tiny mail-order plant, kept it inside during the cold weather and put it out in the sun again in Feb. It now has flowers starting! I give it plenty of sun and water and slow-release fertilizer though it's still potted.

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  19. It HATES the cold!! I've had mine 4 years. As soon as temps start to drop (high 60's) the leaves act like they were frost bitten. After the freezes we had in Vero Beach the past few winters, I kept thinking it was gone for good. Wrong! It comes back as soon as it gets warm. I love it!

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  20. Where can I find this beautiful plant for sale? I live in Miami, please let me know.
    Neyda

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  21. Gorgeous plant. I just purchased one and am planning to prune it to a tree form. Is it possible to shape it to a single trunk?

    Patricia from Naples

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