My favorite golden dewdrop

By Ralph E. Mitchell

The Golden Dewdrop or Duranta is a versatile woody plant and an attractive addition to your landscape.   The Golden Dewdrop is native to Tropical America and ranges from the Florida Keys through Mexico and South America. While there may be up to 36 species of Duranta throughout the world, the most commonly used species are Duranta erecta and Duranta repens which have small leaves, and Duranta stenostachya also known as the Brazilian Skyflower which has visibly larger leaves. There are many cultivars commonly known as Golden Dewdrops, and I do have a favorite!

You may also occasionally find this shrub called Pigeon-berry, Honey drops, and Skyflower, but the botanical genus Duranta or common name Golden Dewdrop will suffice. Duranta is a very fast-growing shrub with multiple, somewhat floppy branches with light green foliage and truly beautiful blue, lavender, purple, and white flowers. Some flowers even have a white edging on the outer rim of the petals. The fragrant flowers which appear in spring, summer and fall, are very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. I have also noticed that carpenter bees are common visitors to these flowers in my yard. The flowers are followed by golden berries that are favored by birds. Be aware however that the berries are reportedly poisonous so keep this in mind in consideration of children and pets. Golden Dewdrops cultivars should be planted in well-drained locations preferably in full-sun. While noted as highly drought tolerant, the Duranta is not salt tolerant, so plant accordingly.

While the green leaf variety along with the blue-purple flowers is attractive as is, the variegated forms with white and green, and gold and green, add a whole new dimension to color combinations. Some cultivars to look for include ‘Alba’, the white flowering form; ‘Variegata’ with white leaf margins and ‘Aurea’ or ‘Aureovariegata’ with yellow variegation and yellow margined variegation, respectfully. Presently I have the  ‘Gold Mound’ in my landscape.  This is perhaps my favorite cultivar of Golden Dewdrops and seems to be the most common type used in many local landscapes.  Highlighted once as a “Florida Plant of the Year”, ‘Gold Mound’ is often included in planting beds, as border plants, and in containers.  A dwarf, low mounding shrub, ‘Gold Mound’ has a golden-yellow, chartreuse color that gleams in the sun and catches the eye eventually growing up to twenty-four inches wide and thirty-inches tall.

One pest that may cause a problem with ‘Gold Mound’ is the root-knot nematode.   These microscopic worms damage roots which in turn shows up as symptoms on above-ground plant parts.  This damage can random in pattern and may only appear on some while others are untouched.  Dieback, wilting, thinning or outright death can all be seen with a root-knot infested ‘Gold Mound’.  Below ground, the roots are thickening with knots and galls.  As far as management goes, prevention is perhaps the best measure here.  Check the roots on transplants before installing and use clean shovels so as not to introduce these nematodes.

The variety of sizes, foliage, and flower color all work to make Duranta end up on my list of garden favorites.  However, as mentioned before, my real favorite Duranta is the ‘Gold Mound’ and I am sure it will be yours as well!  For more information on all types of shrubs to grow in our area,  please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.  Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area.  Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times – http://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/Plant%20Clinics%20Schedule.pdf.

Resources:
Brown, S. H.(2013) The Effect of Root-Knot Nematodes on ‘Gold Mound’ Duranta.  The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS – Lee County
Culbert, D. Add Drops of Gold to Florida Yards. UF/IFAS Extension Service – Okeechobee County.
Gilman, E. (1999). Duranta repens. UF/IFAS Extension Service.
Mitchell, R. E. (2008) A FOCUS ON GOLDEN DEWDROPS.  The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS – Charlotte County
Williams, L. (2004) 2005 Florida Plants of the Year.  The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS – Okaloosa County

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