Sunday, February 10, 2013

Duranta 'Geisha Girl'

A standard purple flowered Duranta erecta 'Geisha Girl'  underplanted
with red Acalypha reptans

Australian Blue Banded Bee feeding on Duranta 'Geisha Girl'
photo by Louise Docker from Wikipedia
I am in trouble for promoting weeds all the time. This shrub is on the hit list because the yellow berries which form after flowering are known to be spread by birds into native forest. The berries are also poisonous to dogs, so "double-whammy-in-disgrace" "go to jail do not pass go" etc for what is a wonderful summer flowering shrub. 
 Nectar feeding birds love the flowers which stand proud of the leaves and cascade from the centre in long racemes. There is a constant rustling of the leaves and fighting between bigger and smaller birds. This evening at dusk, a solitary blue banded bee was quietly stumbling around the flowers. This little charmer was featured by landscaper Jason on the Friday TV show of Better Homes and Gardens.
Duranta is a popular shrub when grown as a standard but it does not necessarily form the round lollipop style as expected. Branches are angular and so you often end up with a dip in the middle of the ball . It is also very vigorous, so is prone to develop side shoots along the main stem during the growing season. Regular tip pruning is best and then a hard prune once the berries start to from. 'Geisha Girl,' as the name suggests, originated in Japan and is thus fairly tolerant of extremes of heat and cold. I have come across some interesting photos of it from Japan, growing tall and covering the side of a building where the tumbling flowers looked magnificent.


  1. I have a hedge of it (perhaps not Geisha Girl as the flowers are pale blue) but is dying off in parts. I like the blue banded bees better, such a loud buzzing, you'd swear they were blow flies.

  2. Hi Sandy,
    The sky blue flowering Duranta is very pretty also. Could be borer causing the dieback in some branches.

  3. hi there, I have two outside the front of my house which are getting quite big, how hard can I prune them back?

  4. Hi there, I have two that are getting quite tall, the fruits have formed and I want to prune it back, how hard can I prune it. I want to take about half off, the trunk is quite big. I have been told to just cut it right back to bard trunk. It need a severe prune as it is touching the power cable to my house!

  5. You can cut this shrub back hard in spring and it comes away very is tough as ..

  6. We had one that we pruned back to hardwood -4 metres of a 6m tree was taken, and while I thought we'd killed it, it's grown back to that same size in 12 months, with loads of flowers - unstoppable & beautiful, but a big job!!

  7. Is the Geisha Girl suitable for topiary (Cloud formation) ?

    1. It may work as cloud pruned. It is so quick growing in summer however it needs constant attention

  8. Is the standard Geisha Girl plant suitable for topiary (cloud formation) ?