Now spring is here, many flowering annuals are approaching their best although there is still time to plant more. But why not consider adding shrubs to your garden? Many offer visual appeal and fragrance for your garden while also attracting bees, birds, butterflies and moths. Flowering shrubs have an additional advantage: They can last for years, thus saving money and maintenance.

Here are some attractive shrubs that do well in Bermuda and can be bought locally.

Butterfly Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divaricata ‘Flore Pleno’)
This shrub, which can grow into a tree, is native to many countries, including India, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. It has many common names. Here we have claimed it for our own and call it “Bermuda gardenia.” Other names include crepe jasmine, pinwheel flower (the blossom does resemble a pinwheel) and paper gardenia.
It has semi-double white flowers, particularly fragrant at night, and glossy dark green leaves. Grown directly into the ground or into a pot, it likes moist soil, a sunny position or partial shade. It can be propagated during warmer weather from semi-hardwood cuttings or from seed.

Tips: Keep moist. Prune in the spring.

Did you know?
• In India, a tabernaemontana divaricata placed in front of the home signifies wealth.
• It is named after the German physician and botanist Jakob Theodor Müller von Bergzabern (ca. 1520-1590).
• The Bermuda gardenia is toxic, and the sap irritates the skin. It was once used to poison arrows. However, the roots, leaves, flowers and latex have also been used in traditional medicine, their medical properties still being researched.
• This plant is host to oleander hawk moth caterpillars.

Lady of the Night (Brunfelsia americana)
The Latin plant name is particularly important since other flowers such as night-blooming cereus and certain jasmines are given the same evocative name. This species is popular in Bermuda since thanks to its slow growth, it requires little or no pruning. Its tubular flowers are buttery yellow, becoming white at night. Also at night, the blossoms release a distinctive, faintly spicy perfume. Its fruits resemble small, orange tomatoes. The plant can be grown from seed.

Tip: Plant in a sunny, sheltered position, preferably near a window so the scent can be enjoyed inside as well as outside.

Cloth of Gold (Galphimia glauca)
Native to Mexico and tropical America, cloth of gold, otherwise known as thryallis, or rain-of-gold, is excellent for garden borders or for containers. As its name suggests, it produces a mass of tiny golden flowers summer long and into the winter. Easy to grow, it requires little maintenance since it is neither pest nor disease prone.

Tip: Prune the reddish stems in the spring to promote new growth and to prevent them from becoming leggy.

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
This is a shrub where all the colour is in the leaves. Foliage can be variegated in greens, yellows, oranges, pinks and reds, as well as rich purples. It’s a perfect plant to grow in Bermuda as it thrives in warmth and humidity and adds colour to the garden year round. In cooler countries, crotons have to be potted and brought indoors to survive temperatures below 50 degrees. Of course, we don’t have that problem here. Choose a sunny location, sheltered from the wind, to increase colour intensity although crotons can grow in partial shade. Plant in well-drained but moist, good soil. Water regularly, particularly in the summer months. Watch out for mealybugs, spider mites, scales and thrips.

NB: Crotons are toxic to humans and animals.

Queen of Shrubs or Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
The queen of shrubs is native to China, Japan and the Himalayas. The name “crape” or “crepe” is apt because the flowers of this distinctive and most beautiful plant are curled, crinkly and crêpe paper-like. Depending on the cultivar, they can be red, pink, purple or white and they come out in the summer. While often grown as a shrub, the “queen” can also be grown as a tree and can reach 25 to 30 feet tall. It is perfectly suited to Bermuda’s climate and thrives on sun and humidity. Plant in direct sun for prolific flowers. It can be propagated from seed or from hardwood cuttings.

• Plant in well-drained soil as the shrub is subject to root rot.
• Water roots during excessively dry weather.
• Avoid cutting the main central branch to stunt its height. Doing so makes for a misshapen and sickly tree.

Did you know?
• The crepe myrtle was introduced to the American South, possibly from a Chinese cargo ship, by French botanist Andre Michaux who in 1785 was sent by the French government to New York and Charleston to collect American plants.
• The fruits are sometimes called China berries and were used in rosaries.
• Crepe myrtles were apparently planted near stables because it was thought they deterred flies.

Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeeana)
Also known as Mexican shrimp and native to tropical America, this plant has clusters of white tubular flowers enclosed by reddish-brown bracts. As is the case with poinsettias and bougainvillea, it’s the bracts, or modified leaves, which make this small shrub so distinctive and attractive to gardeners. They do indeed resemble shrimp in shape and colour. Plant in moist, well-drained soil in a sunny location sheltered from the wind. Watch out for scale insects, especially in the hotter months. Propagate from seed or from softwood cuttings. Prune in late spring.