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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Clerodendrum incisa - the Musical Notes Plant

DECEMBER 5, 2014: Are you seeing this blog post on blogspot? Or are you seeing it at TexasOutdoorsmen dot com? 

if you're seeing my posts and photos on the TexasOutdoorsmen dot com site, it is absolutely without my permission. This website has been copying my garden blog and garden blogs belonging to many of my garden friends, and we want it to stop.

If you live in Central Texas you probably know one of the most interesting nurseries in Austin- Barton Springs Nursery on Bee Caves Road

It's a fine place to buy full-size plants, shrubs, trees, native plants and roses. For experimentally minded gardeners, it's a great place to find odd little inexpensive rooted cuttings to play around with.

The thermometer stood at 100F one afternoon in June 2013 but my friend Carole and I felt like poking around a nursery so we headed to Barton Springs. I was familiar with some of the small plants I brought home  -Salvia discolor/Andean Silver Sage; variegated Jewels of Opar, and Dicliptera suberecta/Uruguayan Hummingbird Plant. Here are the Jewels of Opar with portulaca last summer.

Those three plants lived for awhile, made a few flowers and died over winter.

Another little starter plant was on a table with annuals and herbs - it was some previously unheard of kind of Clerodendron and my internal Plant-Collector sensor started chiming. I needed it! Once repotted and on the part sun/part shade patio, I made sure the little Clerodendrum incisa was handwatered every couple of days. It survived, grew at a reasonable rate from June until October, and was totally ignorable. Then surprise! 

One stem on the plant developed white buds that looked a little like musical notes - and even more like golf clubs. The plant popped a few more flowers in November.

According to the Dave's Garden information on Clerodendrum incisa, it's only hardy to zone 9, so would almost certainly die if left outside in my part of Austin in winter. The pot is somewhere in this photo, one of dozens of marginal plants that spent last winter jammed into the garage.

The winter had some very harsh spells and some of the plants froze inside the garage. The Clerodendrum incisum lost its leaves and looked dormant but the stems were still flexible so I had hope. The pot went outside again in spring and the plant slowly woke up. Once again it grew steadily, looking plain but not unattractive. I kept it watered and a few times gave it a little diluted John's Recipe.

This year the first bloom cycle started with uncurling buds in late August and I found myself completely entranced.

The fully developed flowers don't last long but are bewitching.

One stem would rest for awhile then another flush of buds developed. These began in early September.

After a few days, they once again begin to resemble musical notes.

Sometimes the buds became very elongated.

Once open, the delicate flowers don't last long.

This flush has many clusters of buds so you can see the flowers in different stages.

Even the fallen flowers are decorative scattered on the ground near the pot.

After another short rest, a flush of new buds is expanding by Sept 17th.

In this photo from September 22nd, I think there are tiny ants crawling on the buds.

September 23rd - the elongated buds have arranged themselves into a chord.

September 24 - fully opened flowers in closeup.

Also September 24 - a few feet away is a tall plant of a Clerodendron relative, the Blue Butterfly plant, Clerodendrum ugandense AKA Rotheca myricoides 'Ugandense'

In a milder climate the Musical Notes Plant can grow into a small shrub, but it will be treated like a tender plant here and come inside for winter.

The post, Clerodendrum Incisa - the Musical Notes Plant, was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog, and is dedicated to my music-making friends. 


  1. Isn't it fun to find a plant that plays the musical notes you heard when you saw it? FUN.

    1. Hi Lisa - the name alone would make me buy it! I'm glad it lived up to the expectation.

  2. Replies
    1. Hi MarthaChick! Another of your passalong crinums bloomed recently - it should be in the next post.

  3. Very cool - makes this ol' band geek jealous.

    1. Oh - very cool! What instrument did you play?

  4. Musical notes and butterflies - you do have some enchanting plants!

    1. I guess humans can't resist seeing patterns in everything... also have Lion's Tail, Shrimp Plant, Donkey Ears, Staghorn Fern & Grandfather's Pipe!

  5. That was quite a find and has rewarded you well with those beautiful flowers. I remember seeing this plant growing in Florida and was enchanted by the pretty little flowers. I must look out for that plant as it is worthy of taking care of during the winter for the reward of blooms. They remind me a little of the cat's whiskers which is another hard to find plant.

    1. You and Robin have mentioned searching for Cat's Whiskers - good luck finding them next spring.
      My luck with propagation of cuttings is pretty spotty and this plant is still small, but I'm very tempted to try!

  6. Love the music notes plant. I will have to keep my eye out for one (or several) of those. Great pics!


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