Plant Collector: Dichroa versicolour

Dichroa versicolour - flowers all year round here

Dichroa versicolour – flowers all year round here

It is a member of the hydrangea family and grows like a hydrangea. But the beauty of the dichroa for us is that it flowers for pretty much twelve months of the year. The trade off is that we never get the massed seasonal display that we usually associate with hydrangeas, but it is rare not to see a few cones of pure blue flowers.

A Google search suggests that not all dichroas have as good a colour as we expect in New Zealand. It was Taranaki plantsman Glyn Church who introduced the dichroa to this country and I would guess that the form he brought in has consistently good blue colour.

This is a relatively large growing evergreen which is a back of the border plant. It is quite happy in sun or shade. This plant is growing beneath a huge magnolia. If you don’t trim it from time to time, it will get large – in the 3m x 3m range. I keep this specimen under control and a little denser in growth by trimming back long branches to the lowest point where there are clearly two growth shoots on the stem. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of the year this is done so I just snip and clip when the flowers on the branch have finished or before buds have formed. It is native to North Burma and the Yunnan area of China and is reasonably hardy.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.