Growing Sapphire Showers

David Tarrant shares plant care tips for this fast-growing shrub of the Duranta erecta family.

Credit: David Tarrant

Plant care tips for this fast-growing tropical shrub

Duranta ‘Sapphire Showers’ is a small tree which gives me much pleasure in my high altitude Mexican garden. I bought it as a small plant two years ago and it is now about 3 meters in height.

It is always a challenge to share these plants with northern readers. But checking in the good old Reader’s Digest A -Z Encyclopedia I noticed that there is mention of it being greenhouse grown in pots and therefore suitable for putting out on a sheltered patio for the summer. Much like another favourite, Plumbago capensis.

The original species Duranta erecta, often called Pigeon Berry or Sky Flower, bears panicles of sky blue flowers followed by bright yellow fruits. It is used widely as a street tree throughout the Caribbean Islands, where it is common to see the flowers and fruit together. Its natural distribution occurs from Florida to Brazil.

Sapphire Showers grow quickly and will need to be  repotted

I am not sure when the particular cultivar Sapphire Showers was first introduced. It has very full panicles of darker blue flowers, with light picotee edging.

As it is a rapid grower it would need to be eventually potted up into a decent-sized pot – 60 cm diameter or bigger, or whatever is manageable to be wheeled outside each summer!

It enjoys a well-drained, soil-based potting mix, and during the growing season responds well to regular daily watering along with a biweekly feeding of a balanced organic fertilizer.

During the cooler months it should be kept in a cool greenhouse where its growth will slow down and even possibly lose some leaves. During this time water less frequently, just enough to keep it alive.

In late February/early March prune back dramatically and repot if necessary. The resulting strong new growth will reward with many flowers.

Gardeners always like a challenge, so check around to see if you can find this plant. And if not, enjoy these pictures and come visit Mexico sometime soon!