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Plant type Shrubs
Plant Uses Scent, Border

Best uses

A great shrub for use in a large shrub border in semi shade. Best planted where the flower scent can be appreciated.

Physical characteristics

This is a bold robust rounded evergreen shrub growing to 2-4m tall and often spreading as broadly.

Flowers and foliage

This bold robust tall growing species flowering late spring through autumn with very large open clusters of long white trumpet shaped flowers carrying a lovely tropical perfume. Handsome dark green foliage often turns red in winter and may drop with frost.

Preferred site

Prefers well-drained loamy acidic soil in semi-shade. Shelter from cold drying winds and frost.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy well-grown plants. Planting success is often improved on clay soils by adding extra topsoil and forming raised beds. Incorporate coarse sand, bark, compost or other organic material to improve soil structure. Planting after autumn rains when the soil is moist and warm allows shrubs to become established before winter. This enables them to withstand dry periods during the following summer. Plan its planting position carefully as it can be temperamental to shift once established. Before planting ensure that the root-ball is saturated and remove planter bag pot or wrapping with the minimum of root disturbance. Trim any broken roots or branches and plant at the same level as in the container. Long term slow release fertilisers may be added at this stage. As soil is placed in the prepared hole tread firmly to bring soil in close contact with the root-ball. Mulch well so the roots stay cool and moisture is preserved. Water moderately so the plant does not dry out. Plant around 1.5m apart.

Maintenance tips

Mulch annually around the planting site to conserve soil moisture. Organic material such as sawdust and bark contribute to soil structure as they decompose and help suppress weeds however keep the mulch from the plant stem. Except on very fertile soils an annual light dressing (50g/m2) of general purpose fertiliser or one used for acid-loving plants after flowering during growth and up to early budding. Sprinkle evenly and work into the top 2 to 3cm of the soil taking care not to damage surface roots. Light liquid or foliar feeding as buds swell will increase the quality and sizes of blooms. Beware of the plant getting too wet as this will encourage root rot.

Luculia can be cut back heavily after flowering or in spring. This is necessary when grown in tubs or whenever the flowers are to be appreciated at a reasonable height. Stems can be reduced by one half or more. When the weather remains mild moist and conducive for new growth, old wood can be cut back to nearly the trunk and usually will quickly resprout. Heavy pruning after flowering can produce a shorter more dense shrub with many flowering stems. Eliminate all weak or diseased growth and encourage strong healthy stems which will bloom the next flowering season. When grown as a large arching shrub or small tree continue to tip prune and shape until late summer when buds begin to form. Remove dead and diseased stems weak crossing and inwardly growing branches. Shorten damaged and broken branches and thin overcrowded branches.

Care for your luculia as you would your hydrangea. Growing cultures are similar for both forest denizens as they are for the rest of your woodland understory collection: rhododendrons, camellias and fuchsias. A coarse soil high in organic matter, particularly leaf mold if you can get your hands on it, suits them well. Soil should drain quickly but retain moisture and have an acidic pH. Like daphnes, they resent having their roots disturbed so choose your site carefully.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens

Friends garden