Flowering this week: Dichroa versicolor

Flowering this week and pretty much most weeks of the year here - Dichroa versicolor

This plant has the most endearing habit of flowering pretty well all year. The trade-off is that when you get a plant which flowers in random sequence all over the bush, you don’t usually get the wham bang impact of a mass flowering all at once but it is rewarding to be able to see the deep blue dichroa flowers all year. It is an evergreen member of the hydrangea family, hailing from China, and was introduced to this country by our very own Taranaki nurseryman, gardener and garden writer, Glyn Church. Most of the evergreen hydrangeas are sensitive to frost and cold temperatures but the dichroa has shown more hardiness than you would expect with its large leaves and is fine with moderate frosts. Grow it under some overhead tree cover if you are worried about your winter temperatures. It also tolerates a wide range of conditions, sun and shade, wet and dry.

Left unpruned, it will get quite large – around the 3 metres high and 2.5 metres wide mark or even larger over time but I frequently trim long growths back to a point in the stem where I can see twin leaf buds either side. A little pruning often is a better strategy with this plant if you can. It means you can avoid cutting off the flower buds. You can never have too much blue in the garden I feel, and a plant which flowers for the better part of the year and is a true blue certainly justifies its position.