Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bleeding Heart Vine

Flower completely open.

You can see the red heart showing through the white.
The first time I saw a Clerodendrum thompsaniae was at Cobo Hall in Detroit. BloomFest was going on, and the Garden Club of Michigan was hosting a judged flower show. I saw those white flowers with the red centers and I thought it was one of the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen.  
I never saw one again, until last Spring. I help run my husband's family's garden center, and am in charge of ordering the annuals and the tropicals from Florida. When they showed up on the plant availability from Florida, I was so excited! I ordered a box of 6 hanging baskets. My salesperson called and told me I had a minimum order from that grower, so I ordered another box. Unfortunately, I was one of a few that appreciated them. I sold a couple, gave a couple to other fellow plant geeks as gifts and eventually threw the others away. I tried keeping them in the office over the winter, but they defoliated, and looked unsellable, so they had to go. Since I already have a number of houseplants, I couldn't bring them all home. The one I did bring home also defoliated, but I kept it with the hope it would reawaken in the spring. It did! Here are the pictures to prove it.
The white part of the flowers are the calyx and the red part are the true flowers of the plant. It is native to West Africa, and would like temperatures between 60 and 65F during the day with a drop of 5-10 degrees at night. 
It blooms on new growth, so prune in the early spring before new growth begins to promote heavy flowering. Common names include bleeding heart vine, glory bower, and bagflower.
  It was named by Rev. William Cooper Thompson, a missionary in Nigeria, to honor his late wife. 
The name Clerodendrum comes from the Greek word 'kleros', which means "chance or fate" and 'dendron', a tree. (I'm not sure what that means, but thought I'd include it. It probably has something to do with medicinal properties.) It needs plenty of fertilizer, as it is a heavy feeder. Extra calcium is a good idea, as well.

The red flower peeking out.

It really is a very beautiful vine and if you can find one, you won't be disappointed with the beauty of the flowers. It may be unattractive in the winter, but comes alive in the spring, as you can see. I think it was well worth the wait.

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