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.

Genus name comes from the Latinization of the Sinhalese vernacular name mussenda.

‘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. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants

Garden Uses

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