I want to add another plant to my “Dozen for Diana” — twelve plants, one per month, for an imaginary small garden for my climate and soil in Rwanda. Diana of Elephant’s Eye chose a tree this month, but I’m still learning about local trees, so I’m going to defer that choice until another month.
For now, I’m going to add a medium-sized (with some pruning) shrub: the Mussaenda. I found one in my real garden soon after we arrived and fell in love, but I didn’t know its name until tonight after some internet research.
I think my Mussaenda (with orange flowers and white bracts) is M. frondosa, a native to Indo-China and Malaysia, although there is a species native to West Africa, M. erythrophylla or Ashanti blood or red flag. This may actually be the shrub in our garden that I’ve been thinking is a poinsettia. I’m going to have to do a little more research on that tomorrow. [It is M. erythrophylla.]
Mussaendas are hardy to (U.S.) zones 9-11. They can reach heights from 3′ to 10′, and different species and cultivars can have bracts and flowers in orange, white, red, yellow, or pink. They need a moderate amount of water and sun.