Don't know if you've noticed but I've been on this kick lately. I'm all about plants that produce amazing fragrances. I don't know if it's because I've always been intrigued by scent or my recent experience with the very cool Institute for Art and Olfaction, but I'm really zeroing in on flower fragrance and how it makes a person feel. Recently, I've been feeling rather nostalgic and thinking about smells that remind me of childhood. One such plant that takes me there is Clerodendrum bungei also commonly referred to as Glory Bower or Cashmere Bouquet. Clerodendrum bungei smells like Saturday morning cartoons to me. Let me explain. I was a kid in the 70's and early 80's. My Saturday morning routine consisted of cartoons and cereal. The flowers of this plant give off a perfume that smells like Kellogg's Fruit Loops or Post's Fruity Pebbles. A superstar plant guy I know introduced me to this deciduous shrub. He told me to smell the flowers. When he asked what I thought they smelled like I couldn't put my finger on it. He said, "Isn't it like Fruit Loops?" He was so right! So now and forever I associate this hydrangea-like shrub with childhood Saturday mornings...fun and fanciful.
Clerodendrum bungei can grow into a 6 foot tall and wide shrub. It outfits itself in sumptuous, big ol' heart-shaped, tropical leaves and wine red new stems. In spring, clusters of rosy flower buds begin to plump up on the ends of stems. By late spring, they burst open to form rounded platters of sweetly fragrant flowers. The butterflies go crazy for 'em. Flowering happens through autumn. Clerodendrum bungei seems to do best in partial shade conditions. Hot sun tends to burn their leaves. It likes well-draining soil, regular water, and is hardy down to 0 degrees fahrenheit/-17 degrees celsius. It is deciduous, so it will be nothing but twigs in the winter, but come spring when it gets warm you'll see it sprouting new growth. Two other things to note about this plant are that it's foliage is a bit musky when crushed, which means deer don't like to eat it and, secondly, it can run rampant. If it's super comfortable and happy where it's planted it will sucker here and there, so keep tabs on it to control it. So, next time you're at the nursery or you happen to come across this shrub, take a whiff. I have a feeling, you too will fall for its sweet fruity deliciousness.