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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

* Botanical Name: Mussaenda erythrophylla 'Ashanti Blood'

* Family name: Rubiaceae
* Plant type: Tropical shrub or tree native to tropical West Africa.
* Light: Prefers full sun, but can tolerate semi-shade
* Moisture: Needs moderate water regularly but do not overwater. It must be watered during spells of hot and dry weather as it is not drought tolerant.
* Soil: Grow best in well-drained loamy soil.
* Propagation: From softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings, air layering and from seeds though rarely available.

Care: Mussaenda ‘Ashanti Blood’ loves hot and humid environment, so locate it where it can receive full sun to induce best flower color and continuous flowering. Prune after blooming to shape and get a bushier shrub with more branching, resulting in more flowers. It has a tendency to become straggly and leggy, so prune heavily which it can tolerate, if necessary. There are no known serious insect or disease problems but do watch for spider mites and whiteflies.

Features: An ornamental shrub or tree that can reach a height of 30 ft, though in cultivation ranges from 3 to 10 feet tall. A semi-deciduous rambling shrub with multiple stems, covered with opposite leaves that are medium to dark green, round to ovate, 3-6 inches long, pubescent and strongly veined. Macro picture of Mussaenda erythrophylla 'Ashanti Blood' (Red Flag Bush) It flowers almost non-stop through the year with several flowers borne in branching terminal panicles. Each flower is composed of a small creamish white corolla that is five-lobed (0.8 inch across), funnel-shaped with a crimson-red felt center and pubescent beneath, together with a single roundish-ovate and enlarged bright red sepal (bract) measuring 2-5 inches. It is these stunning blood red sepals that led it to be commonly named ‘Ashanti Blood’ or ‘Red Flag Bush’. This very attractive cultivar, Mussaenda erythrophylla, together with Mussaenda philippica ‘Aurorae’ are the proud parents of the horticultural hybrid, Mussaenda ‘Queen Sirikit’, that was developed in the Philippines and has gorgeous pale pink sepals and is one of the most spectacular of mussaendas.

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