Coleonema Pulchrum - Knowledgebase Question

McKinleyville, CA
Question by abquilts
September 24, 2009
Good morning,

I'm back! I recently noticed that my 'pink breath of heaven' that I love, was bending all the way over. I thought perhaps it need watering, so I watered it. I waited till the next day to see if that would right it. It didn't, so I continued to speculate. Perhaps it was too heavy. It's a beautiful plant. It stands 5 feet, and very full. So, I thought thinning it would make sense. It helped, but not completely, so I thought of you. I don't want to top it because it's so beautiful. Is that a possibility?

I just went out and counted the amount of stalks I cut. There were 32, some fatter than others. I tried to evenly distribute the amount cut.

If it's not one thing, it's another! This one surprised me. It happens to be one of my favorite plants (I have 2). I love the way it sways in the wind, and the tiny pink flowers are a delight.

Help me, please.

With much appreciation, Alix

Answer from NGA
September 24, 2009


Sounds as though you did everything right in your pruning session. How could you not love a plant that's called pink breath of heaven?? They are beautiful when in bloom. 5-6 feet tall and wide is about average for this shrub and you can prune it back and thin it as necessary. In general, it blooms winter through spring and sporadically throughout the year. The best advice I can give is to shear it lightly after first bloom, and thin out old wood (which you have done). The stems can get wispy which might account for yours bending over. When the foliage and flowers get wet from rain or heavy from morning dew, they can certainly bend over. They usually go back upright after the moisture has dried and the flowers and leaves are not quite so heavy. I wouldn't top it per se but I would selectively reduce the length of some of the stems and branches. Choose random lengths so the result is a normal, natural form. Usually wherever you make a pruning cut you'll get two new stems so keep that in mind when you prune and be brave - prune it back several inches further down than your first thought when you look at a stem and begin to prune. You'll be glad you did. Your pruning will renew the plant and keep it under control, full, and full of flowers. Enjoy!

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