If you like plants with purple blooms, then you’ll surely fall in love with the King’s Mantle, also known as Thumbergia erecta. I still remember the first time I saw this plant. We were on our way to a friend’s house when I caught sight of this small shrub with intense purple flowers. I wanted to stop because I thought maybe I could ask the owner where he bought it. In case he or she was feeling magnanimous, I was thinking of asking for a cutting too. (I really like plants, and wherever I go, my eyes are usually alert for growing things that I like.) Anyway, we were in a hurry, so we weren’t able to stop. But I kept thinking about those royal violet flowers for a very long time.

IMG_5467The King’s Mantle plant was hard to come by. I went to the local nursery, and I couldn’t find it. The vendors kept offering me purple orchids, but these weren’t what I was looking for. Maybe I just wasn’t able to convey to them what sort of plant I was searching for. Until just a year ago, my husband, daughter and I decided to take a short walk. There was a private nursery/garden just a few houses from our place. We decided to check it out. And guess what greeted me when we came up the gate? Yes, there were pots of Thumbergia erecta. At last, I can have a pot of my own.

King’s Mantle (Thumbergia erecta)
There are so many things that I love about this plant.
– For one, it has the most beautiful deep violet flowers with cream/yellow centers.

– Second, it is a resilient plant. I placed it in an area where it can get some sun and some shade. And it just grew and bloomed, and bloomed, all year. I also noticed that it had more flowers after I water it with diluted urine. You won’t notice the buds because they are quite hidden in the foliage. But once they blossom, you can’t miss them.

– Third, it was easy to propagate. How did I discover this? Well, the pot I bought had a few branches already. After a while, one of its branches grew straight up. It grew to about 6 feet, and I didn’t have the heart to cut it because I wasn’t sure if the plant grew from cuttings. Then, a storm did that for me. After a windy night, that long stem got bent and broken. So, I got a pair of scissors and cleanly cut it. I put the cutting in a pot filled with rich soil. I left it in a shady part where it can get some sun. I wasn’t sure if the cutting would grow because the part that broke off was a younger stem. It was still a bit green compared with the darker and tougher skin of more mature stems. The cutting wilted. It shed a couple of leaves, and I thought it would die. But I left it in the pot and hoped that it would root and grow. A month or so later, the plant started to stand up again. Then, it grew bigger leaves, and after a few more weeks, it gave me flowers. So now, I have two healthy pots of King’s Mantle.

– Finally, another great thing about this flowering plant is that it doesn’t seem to get infected by aphids or other pests. My garden is teeming with red fire ants. Some of my plants have aphids in them and others have died because of the black soot that is caused by the honeydew produced by the aphids. But even though it is surrounded by all these pests, it is healthy and blooming. No sign of aphids on its stems, flowers or leaves. No sign of black ants on its flowers too.

For now, I am encouraging the plant to grow lush and vibrant. I am planning to transfer this in the yard once the fence is done. I know it will be beautiful there and it will provide cover too.

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