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DOMBEYA wallichii

Image of Dombeya wallichii

Mark A. Miller

Family

Sterculiaceae

Botanical Name

DOMBEYA wallichii

Plant Common Name

Christmas Rose, Dombeya, Pink Snowball, Tassel-Tree, Tropical Hydrangea

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    18'-28' / 5.5m - 8.5m

  • Width

    8'-15' / 2.4m - 4.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Eastern Africa, Madagascar

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Pink, Hot Pink, Magenta, Rose

  • Fruit Color

    Gold, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes