Pentas Plant - Our Best Tips For Caring For Pentas lanceolata
Pentas plant is fairly easy to take care of as you long as you water it regularly and take it inside during cold winters. When given enough sunlight, Pentas will produce beautiful flowers of various shades in a star-shaped pattern. These flowers are perfect for attracting butterflies.
Pentas Plant Overview
|Scientific Name:||Pentas lanceolata|
|Common Names||Egyptian Star Flower, Pentas Plant, Star Flower Plant|
|Watering||Maintain moist soil|
|Light||Full sun to partial shade|
|Height||Up to 6 feet|
|Pests||Spider mites and whitefly|
Varieties of Pentas Plant
This Pentas variety has a compact size, growing to around 12 inches in height. It features shocking pink flowers.
Graffiti Red Lace
This plant grows to around one foot tall and has two-toned flowers. The blooms are predominantly red but feature startling white centers which make a stunning contrast to the red.
Northern Lights Lavender
This Pentas plant is a larger variety, growing to heights of 4 feet. It has delicate-looking flowers in a soft shade of pink-lavender and can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures (Better Homes and Gardens).
At 18 inches tall, this Pentas plant grows to a moderate height. It has clusters of pale pink flowers.
This thirsty plant likes to be grown in continually moist soil. It is considered to be moderately drought tolerant, so don’t worry about it going through occasional bouts of drought, for example, if you go away on vacation and aren’t around to water your plants. However, try not to make a habit of leaving this plant without water; it will be much healthier if you maintain a good level of moisture in its soil.
Pentas plants that are stressed from drought are also much more likely to fall victim to spider mite infestations, so its best all-around not to deprive this plant of water. In order to maintain moist soil without risking waterlogged soil, ensure the plant is growing in well-draining soil. This will mean that accidental overwatering or heavy rainfall will drain away without causing problems such as root rot, and the soil will generally be more forgiving of an inappropriate watering level.
To water your Pentas plant the right amount, add water as soon as the top inch of the soil starts to dry out. The soil should feel moist to the touch but never soggy. Bear in mind that seasonal differences will affect how often your Pentas plant needs to be watered. In hot summers, it may need watering every day, especially if it is in a position which receives full sun. Always water at soil level rather than watering the foliage of the plant, as this can cause unsightly brown spots on the leaves.
This plant is very versatile and can be grown as a perennial in warm climates or as an annual outdoors in areas which experience cold winters. When grown as an annual they will flourish in summer and die back after the first frost, bouncing back to life in spring providing their roots haven’t gotten too cold over winter.
As a semi-tropical plant, Pentas loves warm weather and will happily grow outdoors all year longer in warmer western climates. However, if your region does experience cold winters, you do have the option of planting your Pentas plant in a container and bringing it inside over winter. If you do this, you then have two possible options; you can keep it as a houseplant where it will continue to bloom all winter if kept in a warm and bright spot, or alternatively, you can put the plant in a dark and cool spot such as a basement or garage, where the plant will go dormant. The plant can then be brought back outside after the final frost, and continue growing.
If you would prefer, you can actually keep the Pentas plant inside all year round. Newer varieties tend to be more compact and are well suited to use as a houseplant. In this case, as long as you are comfortable with the temperature in your home, then your Pentas plant will be too. It enjoys warm spots away from cold drafts.
The Pentas plant needs plenty of sunlight to produce its striking flowers. It will thrive in a position of full sun but can also tolerate partial shade in the afternoon as long as it receives a good three to six hours of direct sun each day. If the plant does not get enough sun, you will notice it by the lack of flowers, and its leggy appearance. If kept as a houseplant, situate the plant in a bright window where its light criteria can be met.
Pentas plants root easily, so if you have one of these plants and would like to create more, you can propagate them with stem cuttings. During spring, take a cutting from your plant with several sets of leaves on it and remove the bottom set of leaves. You can then dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone to encourage rooting, though this step is not essential.
Prepare some starter pots filled with moist potting soil, and create vertical holes in the soil with a pencil. Then, insert the stem cuttings into the potting soil, and press the soil up against the stems to make them secure. Maintain moist soil, and keep the pots in a sheltered and shaded position for several weeks, by which time new roots should have formed.
You will know if roots have formed by any new growth on the stem; new growth above soil level is an indicator that growth is also occurring below soil level. If you are unsure if roots have formed, gently tug on the stem cuttings. If you can feel some resistance, it means that roots have formed and are gripping onto the soil. If the stems slide out easily, then roots have not yet started growing, and you need to wait longer.
Once roots have formed, you can transplant the cuttings to a more permanent home, either directly in the ground outside, or move them into larger container pots, and continue care as normal.
Pruning of Pentas plants is not essential, but pinching off some of the stems will help to encourage bushier growth. You can do this at the end of fall, as well as any shaping of the plant. Dead or damaged stems can be removed at any time of the year, and you can deadhead spent blooms as you notice them to encourage new flowers.
The flowers of the Pentas plant grow in clusters and come in shades of white, purple, pink, and red. The five-petalled flowers form the shape of a star, and they are very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds (University of Florida- Gardening Solutions). The plant blooms all year round in ideal conditions, providing continuous interest.
Common Pests and Diseases
Pentas plants are mostly disease and pest free, especially newer varieties. The most common problems a Pentas plant will face are spider mites and whitefly, which are especially likely in hot, dry summers. Ensuring your plants have plenty of water will help to prevent these pests, but if you notice an infestation, you should address it immediately. Mild infestations can be tackled by spraying the plants down daily with a strong water hose, as this will physically shake off the pests
How do you like your Pentas plant? Does it flower regularly? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to share this page with others who might be interested in growing a Pentas plant!