Botanical name: Pentas lanceolata Family: Rubiaceae (coffee family)
Synonyms: Mussaenda aegyptiaca, Mussaenda lanceolata
Dark green, lance-shaped, somewhat furry and deeply veined leaves provide a lush backdrop for prolific clusters of never-ending, five-petaled flowers. These may be red, white, lavender, purple, or shades of pink. Some are two-toned. All are extremely attractive to butterflies, and the red and dark pink varieties delight hummingbirds. Depending on the variety, the habit of growth may be upright to about 3', or low and mounding. Full sized pentas are often sprawling, as tall stems will topple over. The flowers are held in terminal clusters and self-deadhead. In warm weather the plant grows fast and stays in bloom constantly. Where winters are not too severe, pentas are perennial. They may always be treated as an annual and replanted after danger of frost for long-lasting summer color. Africa is probably the original home of pentas.
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