Prestonia mollis, Babeiro

Prestonia mollis

Family: Apocynaceae
Large shrub 5-10 ft tallFull sunRegular waterYellow, orange flowersIrritating plant

Prestonia mollis, commonly referred to as Babeiro, is a large shrub reaching heights of 5-10 ft tall; it thrives best in full sun exposure and with regularly watered soil. Its blooms consist of light-yellow and orange flowers with a faint fluorescent glow about them. Despite its charming flowers, Prestonia mollis is considered an irritating plant because of its naturally occurring compound known as Dihydrothalicin, a derivative of Thalicin.

Prestonia mollis has a natural range from Mexico down to Peru, and is rugged enough to withstand harsh temperatures from USDA Zone 9-11. It grows best in moist but well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter, as many of its varieties are known as heavy feeders. Although it can resist drought, it prefers regular irrigation.

To ensure it thrives in colder climates, it should be grown in a pot and brought indoors when temperatures reach 45°F. It should be placed in a location that receives enough sunlight, yet away from any drafty windows; when indoors, the temperature should stay at a minimum of 55°F. During the warmer months, it should be taken outdoors to provide it with at least 8 hours of direct sunlight, ensuring adequate exposure to wind, rain, and an ample amount of natural fertilizer.

Regular pruning and regular application of fertilizer during the warm seasons is also required for Prestonia mollis. Since its natural compound discourages some herbivorous, regular sprays of neem oil can help protect it from other garden pests.

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Prestonia mollis, Babeiro
Prestonia mollis, Babeiro
Prestonia mollis, Babeiro

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