Picture this...it's early in the morning. Just after dawn. The birds are just beginning to sing and somewhere in your midst you sense a sound of sorts. Like a downed power line after a storm but not nearly as sinister. Something electric and alive with color. Calling to you are the extraordinary and electrical flowers of Crotalaria agatiflora otherwise commonly known as the Canary Bird Bush or Rattlebox. The big flowers, the color of a chartreuse acid trip, stun with their petals resembling spinnaker-like sails and beak-like keels. Surreally spectacular!
Crotalaria agatiflora comes to us from eastern Africa. It's an evergreen shrub in the pea family. It can grow up to 10 feet tall and wide if left to its own devices. Prune it regularly to keep it looking smart and stylish. It outfits itself with trifoliate, blue-green foliage that serves as the perfect contrast to its fantastical acid yellow flowers with rich green delicate detail. The buds form and bloom at the ends of stems as racemes of flowers up to 1 foot long. Flowers are said to resemble a group of yellow canaries perched on a branch. When flowers fade seed pods form. As the seeds within mature they separate from the pod walls and rattle giving Crotalaria agatiflora its common name of Rattlebox.
There is something so glamorous about this shrub. It's the kind of shrub I would use to dress up a garden like a starlet on the red carpet wearing a rich display of opulent jewels. Something that would show up in the magazines touted by a headline that reads "Get this look...". But please note, this is indeed a plant for looking at only. All parts of it are poisonous so enjoy it responsibly.
Crotalaria agatiflora likes sun to part-sun conditions, well-draining soil, regular water, and is hardy down to around 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius. It flowers late spring through autumn. Flowering may decrease during hot summer months but resume in autumn. So, if you're looking for some fashionable flora look for this luxuriously luminous plant. Let its electric chartreuse floral fashion mesmerize you.