Pentas – Scarlet Red

Pentas are tropical blooming plants. When you know how to grow Pentas, you have a foolproof way of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies, too.

Plant Description

Pentas (Pentas lanceolata) are also called Egyptian stars for the bloom’s five pointed shape. The plant is a shrub that gets up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It is a scrubby plant with an unruly shape, sporting oval to spear-shaped foliage. The flowers are generally pink, red or white, but new cultivars have introduced tones of purple and lavender and mixed blooms such as pink with red centers.

These plants grow slowly and are often found as container or bedding plants. Pentas plant care is similar to any warm season perennial. They are not prone to many diseases and the main pest problem is spider mites.
Pentas flowers can be used as annuals during summer in climates colder than USDA zone 10. Sunnyvale is zone 9b so they may die back in cold winters. They will simply die back when the cold weather arrives, or you can try to growing Penta plants indoors.

How to Grow Pentas

Pentas are fairly easy to propagate. Pentas plants grow from seed or from softwood cuttings. Take cuttings in spring from terminal wood and dip the ends into a rooting hormone. Push the cut stem into a soilless medium, such as sand, that has been pre-moistened. The cutting will root and produce a new plant within a couple of weeks.

Growing Pentas plants from seed is a quick way to make many of the little plants, but if you want blooms sooner, try the vegetative method.

Caring for Pentas

Pentas are low maintenance plants. Give them plenty of water, sunshine and heat, they will perform beautifully and reward you with an abundance of blooms. Deadhead Pentas flowers to encourage more blooms. Young Pentas plant care should include pinching off the stem ends to force a more compact plant.

Fertilize in spring with a slow release granular fertilizer. Mulch around in-ground plants to conserve water and repel weeds.

Save outdoor plants in winter by digging them up and putting them in a container with a good potting soil. Bring them indoors to a warm room with bright light and no drafts. Reintroduce the plant gradually to the outdoors in spring as soon as ambient temperatures are 65 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

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