Mark A. Miller
Plant Common Name
Christmas Rose, Dombeya, Pink Snowball, Tassel-Tree, Tropical Hydrangea
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
Large, maple-like leaves that have fuzzy undersides are a hallmark of the tropical hydrangea, and are a gentle background for the pendent clusters of pink to magenta-pink flowers that occur from winter to spring. A large shrub or small tree that is native of eastern Africa and Madagascar, it is tender to cold and will defoliate if frost occurs.
The large leaves are a bright green, heart-shaped with teeth on their edges as well as maple-like lobes. Leaf undersides are fuzzy. From winter into spring, branch tips bear long drooping stems that hold a downward-facing cluster of pink to reddish pink flowers. Each papery blossom has five petals and many pollen-bearing stamens. Afterward, the petals turn golden tan and persist on the tree, adding texture but perhaps look ugly alongside the new pink flowers. Foliage is evergreen but light frosts will quickly cause leaf drop; even colder temperatures will kill back stems and branches requiring sucker growth from the trunk or root to rejuvenate the specimen.
Grow tropical hydrangea is full to partial sun in a fertile, humusy soil that is moist in the growing season but a bit drier in winter (prior to flowering). Soil must be well-drained, ideally in a loam but amended sands are tolerable. Use it as a large, rounded accent shrub in the tropical garden or as a fast-growing, dense screen or informal hedge. Since this plant flowers around the end of the year in the Northern Hemisphere it is also referred to as Christmas rose.
AHS Heat Zone
12 - 9
USDA Hardiness Zone
9 - 15
H1, H2, 22, 23, 24
Full Sun, Partial Sun
18'-28' / 5.5m - 8.5m
8'-15' / 2.4m - 4.6m
Early Spring, Spring, Winter, Late Winter
Eastern Africa, Madagascar