by Onika Amell, tropical plant expert
About the Author
Onika Amell was born in farmer's family in Cape Town, South Africa, and always had a keen interest in gardening. She has been a globe-trotter for many years, traveling along with her husband, an engineer, and her life is worth a novel. In Cape Town she worked in groups “Soil for Life and Work for Love”, teaching people how to grow their own food, improve their health, and protect the environment. Onika lived in Galilee, Israel, skydiving over 500 jumps and working on the fields planting, harvesting and caring for various crops (Lychee, Avocado, Bananas, etc), helping out in community gardens... In SE Asia, she taught English at business centers... Upon finally settling in SW Florida, she joined the ECHO Global Farms project on teaching farmers/families around the world about effective crop production... Now as a part of Top Tropicals Team, Onika is our plant expert and a columnist. Onika's biggest passions are plants and... of course – cats, who are her children! She has six of them: Itembi, Freddie Mercury, Donald Trump (he is the difficult one), Tigerlilly, Sweetie, and Jaxson.
Looking for an unforgettable winter bloomer? Look no further than Dombeya Seminole. This is truly one of the showiest landscape plants. This beautiful shrub or small tree stuns with large clusters of showy, bowl shaped, pink flowers in late fall, winter and spring. It has dense heart shaped leaves. It is also called the tropical hydrangea because the flowers are similar to the hydrangeas we all know and love from up North.
This is a large shrub that will reach 7 feet quite easily and about the same in width. However, it is easy to keep shorter with a mere pruning. They can easily be shaped into a beautiful and colorful hedge. They will withstand a pretty radical pruning and come back without a problem. Prune after the blooms have stopped in the spring.
This plant wants full sun to partial shade and are so easy to grow. They will even tolerate our poor soil here in Florida. In addition, they are fairly drought tolerant once established. This colorful plant is perfect for almost any garden or patio or as an accent plant. It is also an ideal container plant.
Dombeya Seminole is a winter winner through and through. Did I mention it is a great wildlife plant also? This beauty serves as a nectar plant to a number of butterflies and in addition, bees and hummers all love this plant.
Interesting fact: the genus Dombeya is native from tropical Africa to the Mascarenes, including Madagascar. Dombeya x seminole is the fantastic result of an artificial hybrid of two varieties of Dombeya burgessiae, by the subtropical horticulture Research Unit, Miami, in April 1973. No surprise then that this beauty has been used as a traditional landscape in Miami for a very long time!
What a fantastic plant this is. It should be a must-have for all you snowbirds out there. It blooms all winter in Florida during season, when the most color is wanted in all our gardens. This precocious flower machine puts on one of the best flowering shows of any shrub in Florida where we have several varieties of this flowering beauty.