Clerodendrum nutans, commonly known as nodding clerodendrum.
Clerodendrum nutans, commonly known as nodding clerodendrum.

Putting on an autumn show

A COUPLE of years ago I planted a shrub that was new to me, Clerodendrum nutans, commonly known as nodding clerodendrum, and it has become one of my favourite plants. It's a pretty, evergreen shrub that grows to 1.5-2m tall and 1-1.5m wide. It has beautiful long green glossy leaves and in autumn it is spectacular with masses of pendulous bunches of white flowers with prominent curled red stamens.

Clerodendrum nutans is said to be quite slow growing, but mine has doubled in size in the 18 months since I planted it and is now about 1.2m tall and absolutely laden with flowers.

This is a very low-maintenance plant that prefers semi-shade, although it will tolerate full sun or even close to full shade. Mine is in a position that receives good morning sun and afternoon shade, and this seems to be ideal. My garden relies almost solely on rainfall and in January things struggled in the heat of summer with very little rain. The clerodendrum shed some leaves and the grasshoppers attacked it quite ferociously, but it is now lush and green and in full bloom, looking absolutely stunning.

Clerodendrum nutans occurs naturally in India, Pakistan and parts of South-East Asia. It grows well in tropical and sub-tropical climates but will also tolerate light frost. The foliage will die back if hit by frost, but it will recover well if you cut it back quite hard when all danger of frost is past, when it will re-shoot to flower again in autumn.