How to Care for a Penta Plant

 Penta (Pentas lanceolata) is an evergreen bush that, in warm climates, will light up the landscape all year with colorful star-shaped clusters. Hummingbirds and butterflies will often visit the penta blooms before they visit other flowering plants. Although penta can survive an occasional light frost, it won't tolerate a hard freeze. If you live in a cold climate, either grow penta as an annual or plant it in a container and bring it indoors for the winter.Read More


 A single plant can produce 15 to 20 flower clusters at one time. They come in many colors, including pink, red, blue and white. This plant prefers full sun or partial sun conditions, loamy soil and a neutral pH. The hardy penta is drought tolerant and thrives in the heat. They can also survive the mild winters of the southern part of the United States. They grow up to 24 inches tall and about 16 inches across.

Types of Pentas

Pentas come in a variety of colors and sizes to suit any garden need. Dwarf varieties grow to 12 inches tall, with large bloom clusters that continue all summer. Old-fashioned penta varieties grow quite tall, to 24 inches or more, and attract butterflies with their nectar. The butterfly penta (Penta lanceolata) produces larger flower clusters than other types.

Penta Care

Plant pentas in the spring after all danger of frost has passed, and keep the soil moist to establish good roots. Growing pentas from seed can take up to 14 weeks to flower, so transplanting started seedlings is recommended. Pentas require more than six hours of sunlight per day for good flowering. If plants grow too large, you can prune them back without damaging flowering ability. Pinch back the plant stems for fuller growth. Fertilize pentas with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer. Irrigate plants during long, dry periods of weather. Avoid overwatering. Propagate pentas from cuttings or from seed, but expect to wait several months for blooms from seed propagation. Use root hormone on cuttings to assist new root growth.

Problems of Pentas

Pentas have few insect or disease problems. Aphids can be dislodged with a spray from a high-pressure hose. Whiteflies or fungus gnat problems may require insecticidal soap sprays. Leaf spot, powdery mildew or botrytis blight may require treatment with copper fungicide spray. Remove affected leaves and destroy to limit further contamination.

 How to grow

Step 1

Plant penta in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. If you're planting more than one penta bush, leave 18 to 24 inches between each plant.

Step 2

Water pentas when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. Pentas are only moderately drought-tolerant and will need regular watering, especially during hot, dry weather.

Step 3

Pinch the tips of penta stems often to encourage a bushy plant and continued blooming. Pinch the stem just above a leaf. Cut blooms as desired. When used in indoor bouquets, the blooms will last three to five days.

Step 4

Feed the penta plant monthly during spring, summer and fall, using a general-purpose liquid fertilizer. Mix the fertilizer according to the directions on the package and dilute to half strength before applying. Withhold fertilizer during the winter.