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As I have travelled about lately, I have seen many beautiful specimens of duranta bushes flourishing in a wide range of soil types and climates. I’ve seen them thriving in Tamworth and Moree; a friend has a row growing on the eastern side of his house in a western area of our state, and I saw some really large specimens in the Brisbane city centre, so they obviously are very adaptable to a wide range of climates, soil types and temperature ranges.
The ones out west are subjected to extreme heat and also some frosts while Brisbane provides an almost tropical climate and rainfall and a good deal of pollution in the area where I saw them. Although they are said to be frost tender they do really well in Tamworth, and from experience Tamworth can be subjected to very hard frosts. Perhaps, protection until established is the answer.
Given this wide variety of environments I thought I needed to research these plants a little, and in doing so have found that they are a member of the same family as Lantana, and we would all be aware of what an environmental disaster that can become if left unchecked.
Durantas are native to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. The older, common varieties of duranta have been recognised as an environmental problem for northern NSW and south eastern Queensland having for a long time been recorded as early as 1931. The berries that the plant produces are highly toxic to humans and animals, especially cats, dogs and small children, but most birds seem to be immune, so spread the seeds via their droppings. They are difficult to remove as any pieces of root left can sprout and grow. The beautiful hybrids don’t seem to have the same propensity to become a problem.
They can grow up half a metre per year and to 6 metres tall and similarly wide. They can also be pruned successfully to maintain height, shape and provide a dense shrub. They come in a wide variety of forms and flower colours and a golden-leaved form makes a lovely hedge. They need full sun to get the best golden colour, but look good as a specimen plant, in a pot or almost anywhere you have space. They also can be grown as a standard and look spectacular.
I told you all last week that I would be honest about the prickly cucumber I put in the garden. Well, if anyone would like some plants, I have hundreds! I think every seed must have germinated and I have already given a great many away and still have about 100 excess to requirements. They are absolutely flourishing. I don’t know when I have seen anything grow so fast. Lots of fun to see the very visible progress each day, but unfortunately I can only keep a few. There is after all, a limit to the number I and my neighbours can use!
Don’t forget the bus trip to the Garden Expo at Doomben in March. A ticket for this day trip would make a great Christmas present for any garden-minded friend or family member and are available at Danny Lyons store.

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