Nature's beautiful trumpet: Growing tropical allamandas
MANY tropical and sub-tropical plants are at their peak in late summer and early autumn. This is certainly true of the allamanda.
Native to South and Central America, allamandas are woody evergreen shrubs or vines with oval-shaped, leathery leaves and large, showy, trumpet-shaped flowers.
The most commonly grown allamanda has bright, clear yellow flowers, hence the common name Golden Trumpet.
There are other colours - Cherie has lovely bright cherry red flowers, and Jamaican Sunset is a beautiful dusky salmon. They flower for a long time - usually from about November through to May, and look spectacular right now.
In their natural environment, allamandas grow along riverbanks and other open, sunny areas with adequate water. So to keep them looking good we need to replicate these conditions as far as possible.
Allamandas prefer a warm position in full sun. They look best when adequate water is available, although they will tolerate periods of dryness. They do not like shade, or salty soil, and are frost sensitive.
In a cold, damp position during winter they may drop some leaves and generally fail to thrive.
Allamandas are heavy feeders, so they love to be kept well mulched and fed with a complete plant food a couple of times a year.
You can grow these lovely plants in well-drained garden beds, over fences or on a trellis, or in a large tub.
They can be espaliered, or grown as a shrub. Different varieties have different growth habits, so be sure to check the label before purchase. If you choose a climbing variety, you will need to give it support.
They grow quickly, and respond well to pruning to prevent them from becoming sparse and leggy. Pruning should be done immediately after flowering to tidy the plants, and then again in late winter. The white sap can irritate the skin, causing itching, blisters and rashes, so please be careful.
The bright, trumpet-shaped flowers of allamandas look a lot like two other brilliant climbers, mandevillas and their more compact cousins, the dipladenias such as Red Riding Hood and Scarlet Pimpernel.
A new variety of dipladenia, called Citrine, has been released in Australia. This is the world's first yellow flowering dpladenia.
It has been bred by crossing dipladenia with the yellow flowering alamanda. So we have a tough, compact climber which is perfect for pots. It produces masses of large, bright yellow blooms all year.
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