These natives of the American tropics feature clusters of showy flowers during the warmer months. The blossoms are tubular, opening out to flat, round, five-petaled disks; blooms of some species are fragrant, while those of others change color as they age. In central and south Florida, use in large containers, as specimens, or in shrub borders. Elsewhere, grow in a pot that can be brought indoors to a sunny window for the winter.
These are handsome plants that deserve the extra attention they need: grow them in rich, well-drained, slightly acid soil, and give regular feedings throughout the growing season. In alkaline soils, they will develop chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins). Prune in spring to remove straggly growth and to shape the plants.
B. australis. MORNING-NOON-AND-NIGHT. Large shrub to 12 ft. tall and wide. Elliptical, dark green leaves, 1125 in. long. Blooms from spring through fall, bearing sweet-scented, 112-in.-wide flowers that open rich purple, then fade through lavender shades to white.
B. pauciflora (B. calycina). YESTERDAY-TODAY-AND- TOMORROW. The best known of the brunfelsias, this species gets its common name from clustered spring-to-summer flowers that quickly change from purple to lavender to white as they age; often, all three colors are present on a single plant. Oval to lance-shaped leaves reach 36 in. long. Recommended selections include the following three.
'Floribunda'. Flowers to 2 in. wide are borne profusely all over the plant. Oval leaves are dark green above, pale green below, 34 in. long. Plant may exceed 10 ft. in height, but it can be held to 34 ft. by pruning. Has a rather spreading habit, with several stems from the base; width is nearly equal to height.
'Floribunda Compacta'. Two-thirds the size of the more widely planted 'Floribunda', with slightly smaller flowers but even more profuse bloom.
'Macrantha' ('Magnifica'). Least hardy of the brunfelsias listed here, suitable for planting outdoors only in south Florida. Differs from 'Floribunda' in having fewer but larger flowers, 24 in. across. Also has a more slender habit and bigger leaves (to 8 in. long).