Pentas is one of the best pollinator-attracting plants around. It blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather conditions. The large clusters of starry blooms on pentas are the perfect resting place for butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. The plant grows well both in the ground and in containers, and even makes a good houseplant if enough light is present.
Pentas plants are annuals in most climates but can be perennials in tropical areas. The overall habit of these plants is neat and compact. If plants get too long and woody, cut them back—the plants will rejuvenate themselves. You can also prevent overgrowth by giving the plants a pinch at the tips when they are young to encourage low branching.
Pentas flowers are in clusters at the tips of all of the growth points, creating landing pads for pollinators. Blooms come in shades of pink, white, red, and lavender. Keep plants deadheaded and remove any spent blooms to encourage the constant reproduction of flowers.
Pentas Care Must-Knows
Overall, pentas are pretty low-maintenance and are easy to grow in any garden setting. Newer varieties have improved disease resistance, have more compact habits, and boast new variations of colors to choose from. While pentas don't face many problems with disease, the biggest issue can be aphids or spider mites. Keep an eye out for these (especially in the heat of the summer) and be sure to take care of them at the first signs of a problem.
Pentas make great bedding and container plants. Ideally, pentas prefer to be planted in full sun and in moist, well-drained soil. Pentas will dry out quickly, so give them supplemental water during dry spells. Give pentas a dose of fertilizer on a monthly basis to keep up flower production.
More Varieties of Pentas
Pentas 'Graffiti Lipstick' is adorned by clusters of bright rosy-pink flowers on compact 12-inch-tall plants.
Pentas 'Graffiti Red Lace' bears large heads of red flowers with white centers on 1-foot-tall plants.
Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom' shows off clusters of soft-pink flowers through the summer. It grows 18 inches tall.
Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Deep Red' is an especially showy selection with clusters of rich-red flowers all summer long. It grows 18 inches tall.
Pentas Companion Plants
If you have a hot, baked spot, lantana is your answer. This hardworking plant not only thrives with little moisture and in full, unyielding sun, it does so with ease. In fact, lantana is a flower that seems to have it all: It produces an abundance of brightly colored flowers all summer and fall, and it's a magnet for butterflies (hummingbirds like it, too). It's easy to grow and a great choice for containers. Plus, if you have a sunny spot indoors, you can grow it as a charming indoor plant. In frost-free climates (Zones 9–11), it's a great perennial groundcover, as well.
There are few gardens that don't have at least one salvia growing in them. Whether you have sun or shade, a dry garden or lots of rainfall, there's an annual salvia that you'll find indispensable. All attract hummingbirds, especially the red ones, and are great picks for hot, dry sites where you want tons of color all season. Most salvias don't like cool weather, so plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
There's nothing subtle about an African marigold, and thank goodness for that! It's a big, flamboyant, colorful punch of color for the sunny bed, border, or large container. Most are yellow, orange, or cream. Plants get up to 3 feet tall and produce huge 3-inch puffball blooms while dwarf varieties get just 1 foot tall. The mounded dark green foliage is always clean, fresh, and tidy. Grow them in a warm, sunny spot with moist, well-drained soil all summer long.