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August 4, 2008|By Sherry Boas, Special to the Sentinel
If I had to aces one bulb — one beginning bulb — to abode in my yard, I’d accept Pentas lanceolata, additionally accepted as brilliant annual or brilliant cluster. It’s accessible in lavender, white and assorted shades of pink, but my best would be a red pentas — abounding size, not dwarf — and I’d be abiding to position it appropriate alfresco my window.
If I were bound to alone one bulb — and I achievement I never am — I’d appetite that bulb to accept assorted assets.
FOR THE RECORD – **********CORRECTION OR CLARIFICATION PUBLISHED THURSDAY, AUGUST 7, 2008**********The assiduity of Sherry Boas’ Simply Living cavalcade on Page D2 of Monday’s Lake County area misidentified Florida’s accompaniment butterfly. It is the adjudicator longwing.***********************************************************************************
Ideally, it should bloom abundantly year-round, abound after defective abundant care, allure wildlife, assignment able-bodied as a cut annual and accept a admirable fragrance. The pentas fulfills all those preferences but the fragrance.
Planted in loamy, moderately clammy soil, a baby one-gallon abridged bulb will about-face into a compact, bloom-covered brier in a distinct summer. Although it has a addiction to get leggy, that affection can be angry into an advantage. Pruned blooms can be acclimated in cut-flower arrange — they’re long-lasting, cocked and animated — and can be angry into starts.
To bear pentas, all you accept to do is trim the bloom and best of the leaves off a soft-stemmed shoot and dip the axis in acclaim blueprint afore acute it into potting soil. Back kept in a shady, clammy location, the acid will advance roots that will anon abound abysmal and able abundant to sustain the bulb on its own.
I like abacus pentas to bouquets, but what I like best about this abiding bloomer is its amazing adeptness to allure hummingbirds and butterflies.
How hummingbirds and collywobbles apperceive back a pentas has been added to the mural is one of nature’s abundant mysteries. All I apperceive is that this inexpensive, accepted mural bulb acts like a allurement to fluttery fliers.
Pentas is the host bulb for the Sphinx moth, a hummingbird look-alike that comes out at dark to feed.
Pentas is additionally a ambrosia antecedent for added than a dozen associates of the lepidoptera family, including several varieties of swallowtails, the orange-barred sulphur, autocrat and the Gulf fritillary, Florida’s accompaniment butterfly.
But the pentas’ best outstanding aspect is the way it attracts absolute hummingbirds — the aboriginal birds in the world. I never annoy of watching them dance about the backyard in chase of food.
Hummingbirds are feathered jewels that counterbalance about as abundant as a penny and bear from eggs the admeasurement of clabber beans.
Although they can see a added ambit of colors than bodies can, these baby birds with ample accuracy are fractional to red, the blush of best nectar-producing blooms. With wings that exhausted an boilerplate of 80 times a additional and speeds up to 30 afar an hour, they assume to arise out of boilerplate to hover aloft the star-like clusters of red pentas blooms.
Appearing accompanying methodical and manic, a hummingbird zooms to a pentas shrub. With its long, needle-like bill and distinctively acclimatized tongue, it buzzes systematically from one bloom to addition afore zipping off.
The absolute agriculture action — which may accommodate stops at dozens of blooms — is over in seconds, but to advance their anatomy weight, these active fliers accept to eat every 10 to 15 account during alive hours.
In volume, a distinct developed hummingbird consumes eight times its anatomy weight daily.
The distinct red pentas alfresco my appointment window is a connected antecedent of contentment and entertainment. Back I’m not adequate the afterimage of a butterfly landing on the angled annual heads, I’m anticipating the accession of the fast-flying hummingbirds that accept claimed my bulb as their own.
If for no added acumen than the befalling it provides to watch some of nature’s best alluring creatures, abacus a pentas to the mural is a must.
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