Starburst, or Clerodendrum quadriloculare
Clerodendrum quadriloculare, or Starburst, is an attention getter in the Clerodendrum genus. It occurs naturally as a spreading shrub or bush, but with careful pruning can be easily trained in to a beautiful, small tree. It seldom gets any taller than 15 feet, and about the same width.
It blooms in the winter months with mounds of pink/white flowers forming balls that are 6 to 10 inches across. The leaves are 6 inches or more, and quite a color display by themselves. The top of each leaf is dark green with a purple tint. The bottom of each leaf, in contrast, is a dark purple. The white flower display against the green and purple leaves paints an extremely appealing site.
This plant is very forgiving when it comes to care. It likes will drained, moist, fertile humus types of soil. But, even in our rocky South Florida soil it does well. Once established, it will survive hot, dry weather with no problem.
The Starburst enjoys full sun, but will also do very well in partial shade. When grown in shade everything on this plants elongates and gets "leggy". The plant in this picture is growing in the shade, and only gets dappled sun in the afternoon. The leaves have become greatly enlarged, and the branching reaches in all directions looking for more light. It still produced a magnificent bloom, although the blooming period didn't last as long as plants grown in full sun.
Like most Clerodendrums, this one likes to produce root suckers. When suckers do appear in an unwanted place, just reach down and pull them out by hand. Of course, if they allowed to go too long, they will become too large to pull by hand, and will have to be dug out. Being slightly on the lazy side, I just run over them with the lawn mower. Suckering could be a good thing if your goal is to cover a larger area with a denser bush.
Starburst also does quite well when grown in a well-drained container. It needs to be kept in a brightly lit area, and watered when the soil starts to dry. On very hot days the container will need to be watered more frequently. In the winter the plants can be allowed to dry out a little more. Being a tropical plant it will need to be taken inside when the temperature goes below freezing.
Photograph by Harriette Fisher
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