Highlight: Lavender starflower

Lavender stars are not Lucky Charms.

Contributed photo

It is really an evergreen shrub with limber stems, but lavender starflower, Grewia caffra, can work almost like a rambling vine.

It does not actually climb or grip anything. Like the canes of a climbing rose, it can be tied onto a trellis or fence as an espalier. As a free standing shrub, the arching stems should be pruned selectively. Shearing deprives them of their natural form, and inhibits bloom.

Espaliered plants can reach the eaves. Free-standing shrubs have the potential to get as high and wide, but take more time.

Alternatively, lavender starflower can be trained as a small patio tree. The leaves look like elm leaves, with the same sandy texture. The lavender star-shaped flowers are as wide as a quarter. They are not abundant, but they bloom as long as the weather is warm.

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Lavender starflower does as well with full sun as it does in partial shade. -- Tony Tomeo

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