Monday, August 20, 2012

Iochroma australis

Sometimes, I imagine plants to be like people. They can be big, loud and charismatic. Or sometimes they can be shy and unobtrusive. I would include Iochroma australis amongst the latter. It's the kind of plant that is easy to walk past, and yet once you take the time to have a closer look, you'll find that this flowering shrub is a thing of beauty.

Iochroma australis has just finished flowering (it's been out for weeks), but I simply had to show a few photos of the small delicate blue / purple flowers.

This particular plant is growing in a client's garden in nearby Budleigh Salterton. The garden sits perched right on the cliff tops, protected from the salty winds by a tall hedge, and is a bit of a horticultural treasure trove - the owner being just as plant mad as I am! It is a pleasure to help maintain this garden, there are simply so many interesting plants crammed into the beds.

Iochroma australis comes from South America, and is generally regarded as being a half-hardy shrub here in the UK, but Budleigh Salterton enjoys a mild climate and it seems perfectly happy planted out without any protection, although it is deciduous in the winter.

With each flower only a few centimetres long, and more often than not partially hidden amongst the leaves, Iochroma appears to have been largely ignored by many gardeners, who instead opt for its much larger flowered relatives, Brugmansia or Datura, which have a bit more presence in the garden.

It's a shame, really, as these delicate flowers would surely grace any garden. Sometimes you need to get up close to plants to really appreciate them fully.


  1. I've tried a few Iochroma over the years but the one I haven't tried is I.australis. Judging by the flowers on the one at Budleigh I might have been better to try that rather than the larger flowered I.grandiflora. It was cut to ground level by last winter, has recovered strongly but hasn't flowered at all this year. They must need more warmth than we can offer.

  2. Hi John, thanks for adding your experiences with Iochroma.

    I wouldn't describe this garden as warm - it is a pretty windy place! Some years it can escape without frost though, although not the past few years. Perhaps that makes the difference?

  3. I have grown seven of these from seed this year for the purpose of trying to produce a hardy garden specimen. Got a spot at the north end of the garden which is sheltered on the north side by next doors large pine. Two will be planted out next spring with the remainder kept as back up for 2014. Fingers crossed.

  4. Best of luck with the Iochroma, Keith. I guess keeping one or two as back up is a good policy.