The foliage is this plant's feature characteristic - leaves are thick and leathery, shaped like fat teardrops or paddles. Low-maintenance and trouble-free, these plants branch out close to the ground and can get very wide. They're excellent as hedges, large accent plants, or grow them as a wall of privacy and/or shade. Their salt-tolerant nature makes them ideal for a seaside home, and the unique foliage adds unique texture to a tropical garden. Rosea is also known as "Pitch Apple."
With the biggest leaves, it's often grown as a small tree or you can grow it as a very wide shrub. If you choose the tree-form, buy one already trained to a single trunk.
These shrubs are sometimes called Autograph Tree or Plant because you can scratch a name or initials onto a leaf and it will stay there forever...or as long as the leaf remains on the plant.
These salt-tolerant, evergreen shrubs will grow in full sun to part shade. They're drought tolerant shrubs, moderate to fast growers that do best in Zone 10, though you can keep one in a container in Zone 9B to move indoors during cold weather. Rosea gets very big - as a shrub you can keep it 8 or 10 feet tall and wide. As a tree, you may want to let it grow as much as 25 feet. Though you can trim the guttifera variety to stay about 5 or 6 feet tall, it can be allowed to grow much larger.
You can do just one hard pruning in spring (late March or early April) and let it do its thing from there. (Guttifera does best with a minor trim rather than being cut way back...with a hard pruning it may not grow out into a nice, natural shape.) Or trim it more often to keep the plant shaped - with branch trimming only, never cut across foliage. In either case, this plant requires hand pruning and should not be mechanically sheared.
This plant is drought-tolerant once established. For the first year, water on a regular basis (with time for the plant to dry out a bit between waterings). Once it's mature, you can water just during dry spells, though regular irrigation will keep the shrub prettier and more full. Fertilize 3 times a year - in spring, summer and fall - with a good granular fertilizer.
It is know to be free from serious pests and diseases. It is sometimes attacked by scales.
CLG BULLETPROOF GRADE: A
NOTE: Sources include South-florida-plant-guide.com, Florida Native Plant Society, and Greenpatio.com