The Encyclopedia of House Plants

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Family: Rubiaceae.

Common name(s): Star flower, Star cluster
Pentas Genus of about 40 species of mainly evergreen perennials, biennials and shrubs from forest margins and scrub in the Arabian Peninsula, tropical Africa, and Madagascar. Showy clusters of star-shaped flower top dark green (evergreen in frost-free zones) foliage. Very floriferous, with an upright growth habit, can become woody at the base, 1-3' feet tall. Use as a bedding plant, in the mixed border, in containers, or as a pot plant. Very attractive to butterflies. Pentas lanceolata (P. carnea) is the basic species. The flower-head bears numerous tubular starry blooms - there are named varietis in white, pink, red and mauve. Dark green, lance-shaped, somewhat furry and deeply veined leaves provide a lush backdrop for prolific clusters of never-ending, five-petaled flowers. These may be red, white, lavender, purple, or shades of pink. Some are two-toned. All are extremely attractive to butterflies, and the red and dark pink varieties delight hummingbirds. Depending on the variety, the habit of growth may be upright to about 3', or low and mounding. Full sized pentas are often sprawling, as tall stems will topple over. The flowers are held in terminal clusters and self-deadhead. In warm weather the plant grows fast and stays in bloom constantly. Pentas is easy to grow - keep the plant at about 60 F in winter. Blooms better and is more robust in good sun, but will still bloom in shade and look good. Pinch at 4 weeks to encourage fullness. Growth regulator (Cycocel) may be used if necessary (same rate as Geraniums). Pentas
Growing conditions Watering and misting Propagation
Average warmth in summer (65°F nights/80°F days) - minimum 45F in winter. Brightly lit spot - full sun or very light shade. Keep compost moist at all times but never waterlogged. Reduce watering in winter. Use soft, tepid water. Misting is necessary. Do not allow to dry out. Take softwood stem cuttings in spring and summer. Sow seed at 61-64 F (16-18 C) in spring.

User-submitted additions and corrections:

southern california
9th Aug 2010
My 'red egyptian' pentas is several years old and 5 feet tall! Never any pest problems. Last year I cut a woody stem and put into a vase of water on my kitchen windowsill. It is now almost 4 feet tall in the garden. Very easy & gorgeous plant to grow as long as one keeps it watered.
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