Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

Q: What can you tell me about the purple tube flower?

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Purple tube flower

Purple tube flower

A:   I believe you are talking about Iochroma cyanea and it is a distant relative of the angel trumpets which are both in the nightshade family. Often these plants are called “mini trumpet plants.”  Like their cousins, all parts of the plant are poisonous. More than likely your plant will be a perennial, although it can be tender if temperatures stay below freezing for long periods of time. The purple tubular flowers are thin and grow 3 to 3.5 inches long.  It is a favorite of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. There are several varieties with flower colors ranging from pale lilac to purple to red.  The full mature height of the shrub can be from 3 – 6 feet with a potential 4 foot spread.  Iochroma cyanea blooms repeatedly from late spring through the fall – which will make it my favorite shrub.  Here it is in the middle of October and mine is blooming.  Iochroma cyanea will need consistent watering during establishment but will be able to tolerate periods of no irrigation or rainfall once it is established. You can plant it in full sun but it will tolerate dappled lighting if it receives sufficient morning sun exposure. I have planted my shrub in dappled light as it may have problems with Florida’s intense summer heat and humidity.  Maybe I will report back to you after a few years and let you know how it did in my yard.  Most plants have to be pretty tough to survive – I don’t baby anything.  Iochroma cyanea can be propagated by seed.


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