If you took one look at the zones of this plant and decided to stop reading, don’t! ‘Sapphire Showers’ golden dewdrop may not be hardy in the ground where you live, but it is one of the showiest and most alluring tropical plants for containers out there. For those living in warmer climates, this is an evergreen, fast-growing shrub. ‘Sapphire Showers’ is more compact than the species, sporting a graceful arching habit that makes it quite versatile. It takes pruning well, so you can let it be a shrub, or you can trim it up and it will easily grow into a small tree. Plant it near a path, and you can let the branches form a sweeping arch to walk under, which will create an inviting and even romantic touch to the garden. In a container it sports a similar vaselike, arching habit and is best suited as the focal point. So say goodbye to those cannas—there’s a more interesting option now in town.
It’s really the flowers, though, that steal the show. Where it is hardy, the plant blooms almost year-round. In cooler zones the blooms appear in midsummer, stopping only when temperatures cool considerably. They’re a beautiful blue-violet with a white border around the petals, and although smaller than an inch in diameter, they grow in cascading clusters and are quite eye-catching. The flowers of ‘Sapphire Showers’ golden dewdrop are followed by golden berries; the flowers and berries normally appear together on the plants. In my California garden it is usually one of the few plants in bloom at the beginning of hummingbird nesting season. For the past three years I have had hummingbirds nest right outside my bathroom window, and this is one of the mamas’ favorite sources of food. The flowers also attract butterflies.
Both the fruit and the leaves are poisonous, which is bad news for humans but will keep the deer and other critters away. ‘Sapphire Showers’ does not have the sharp axillary thorns that are characteristic of the species, which is a nice bonus. And the fact that it doesn’t have thorns makes it easier to bring inside for the winter (in cooler zones). So whether you live where it’s warm all year or where it’s warm for just a few months, you won’t regret buying this plant.
‘Sapphire Showers’ golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta ‘Sapphire Showers’)
Conditions: Full sun; average, well-drained soil
Native Range: Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean
• Emerald Goddess Gardens, Wauchula, FL; 863-773-4015; emeraldgoddessgardens.com
• Gardino Nursery, Loxahatchee Groves, FL; 888-241-1572; gardinonursery.com
—Francesca Corra is the owner of Dirt Diva Designs, a garden design firm in Studio City, California.