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Pentas lanceolata Pentas

Edward F. Gilman and Suzanne Shiffit


This upright evergreen shrub or tall perennial becomes 3 to 4 feet tall and is decorated throughout most of the year in hardiness zones 9 through 11 with many 3-inch-wide, dense clusters of long-tubed, star-shaped flowers (Figure 1). Available in white, pink, red, and lavender, these blossoms are extremely popular with butterflies and are long-lasting as cut flowers. Hummingbirds enjoy the red-flowered selections. They often visit this flower sooner than any other in the garden. Plants fertilized regularly during the growing season will continue to grow and bloom all during the warm months. It grows year round in central and south Florida. Leaves and stems are covered with fine hairs, and leaves have prominent veins on the undersides.

Figure 1. Pentas
Figure 1.  Pentas


General Information

Scientific name: Pentas lanceolata
Pronunciation: PEN-tuss lan-see-oh-LAY-tuh
Common name(s): pentas
Family: Rubinaceae
Plant type: perennial; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 8B through 11 (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 8: May; Jun; Jul
Planting month for zone 9: Apr; May; Jun; Jul; Aug
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: Feb; Mar; Apr; May; Jun; Jul; Aug; Sep; Oct; Nov; Dec
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; hanging basket; cut flowers; accent; attracts hummingbirds; attracts butterflies; hedge; small parking lot islands (< 100 square feet in size); medium-sized parking lot islands (100-200 square feet in size); large parking lot islands (> 200 square feet in size)
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.



Height: 2 to 3 feet
Spread: 2 to 3 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate; obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: semi-evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: not applicable
Fall characteristic: not applicable


Flower color: pink; lavender; white; purple
Flower characteristic: spring flowering; summer flowering; fall flowering; flower season is longer in zones 9-11


Fruit shape: no fruit
Fruit length: no fruit
Fruit cover: no fruit
Fruit color: not applicable
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: usually with one stem/trunk
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: medium


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 18 to 24 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Plants can be clipped as a hedge but flower production will suffer. They are best left unclipped so flowers are free to develop on new growth. Flowers last 3 to 5 days after they are cut and brought indoors. Plant on 18- to 24-inch centers for mass plantings.

Tolerant of a wide range of soil types, pentas prefers fertile, well-drained soils, regular moisture, and will grow quickly in full sun or light shade. Plants will flower fairly well with as little as 2 to 3 hours of sun each day. Plants can be dug, cut back, and stored in a container of soil over the winter in climates that receive freezing temperatures. Water occasionally to keep roots from drying out and re-plant and fertilize in the spring. Heavy mulch applied over the crown of plants cut back to the ground will help plants overwinter in hardiness zone 8. In most years, plants re-grow from the partially buried stems in the spring.

Dwarf cultivars are available that grow to about 14 inches tall. Propagation is by softwood cuttings, which root easily in soil or water, or by seed.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern, but occasionally mites.

Caterpillars sometimes chew on the foliage.

Publication #FPS465

Date: 8/27/2015

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About this Publication

This document is FPS465, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Suzanne Shiffit, program assistant, horticultural programs, UF/IFAS Extension Marion County; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman