Mussaenda (group)
Common Name: paper-rose
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Rubiaceae
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Red or yellow with white, red or pink sepals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11. In St. Louis, grow in containers that must be overwintered indoors. Use a well-draining potting mix and keep soils consistently moist. Grow in full sun to part shade. Best bract/sepal color in full sun, but plants also appreciate some mid-day filtered sun in hot climates. Bring containers indoors in fall when night temperatures start dropping into the 50s. Overwinter in a greenhouse or a warm sun room. Cuttings may be taken in late summer for overwintering.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Mussaenda is a rounded evergreen tropical shrub or sub-shrub that will grow to 10’ tall in tropical areas, but more likely will reach 1-3’ tall in containers in the St. Louis area. Clusters (corymbs) of small, tubular flowers with five spreading lobes bloom in summer, however it is the large and colorful, ovate, leaf-like sepals (to 3” long) that provide the real ornamental display (in somewhat the same way as with Schizophragma). Some individual flowers in each cluster will develop a single enlarged sepal. Elliptic to ovate, bright green leaves (to 6” long). Hybrids sold in commerce typically feature flowers in red and/or yellow with showy sepals of white, bright red or pink. ‘Queen Sirikit’ is a popular hybrid (probably M. erythrophylla x M. philippica ‘Aurorae’) that features yellowish-white flowers with red centers and showy deep pink sepals.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for spider mites and whiteflies on indoor plants.

Garden Uses

Shrub in tropical climates. Container plant in St. Louis.