Today we have another plant I have not grown before and another one from Brazil – though it seems to have either a very wide, trans-continental origin or is naturalised in many countries. Centratherum intermedium is not a very common plant in UK and Irish gardens and, considering its Brazilian origins I did not risk it outside but planted it in the greenhouse alongside the tomatoes. Judging by its slow growth I am glad I did – I think it would have struggled outside in this topsy turvy summer. By way of confirmation of this, my electric daisies in the greenhouse are now 60cm across and still expanding and those in the garden outside are barely 6cm across.
The seeds of centratherum germinated well in March and the seedlings were no problem but the first flower has only just opened. The plants are stiffly branching but not ugly and one of the reasons for growing the plant is the pineapple fragrance of the leaves. Well, while the leaves have a fruity smell when rubbed it is not very strong and I would not rate the plant highly for its fragrance. So I would not rule out the floral display as a reason to grow it. The flowers are vaguely thistle-like as would be expected from a plant in the Asteraceae and they are surrounded by a ruff of small leaves which do set off the flower heads nicely. The flowers are supposed to be very attractive to butterflies and bees, something that is not going to be obvious in a greenhouse. In warmer climes I can see that this would be a useful groundcover plant for sun and it is long-flowering, apparently. It is also a shortlived perennial in frost-free climates though is usually grown as an annual here. It can grow to about 45cm high and 60cm across though I doubt my plants will exceed 30cm in any direction.
Will I grow it again? Probably not for a while. It has pretty enough flowers but they are not outstanding and only 3cm across and the foliage is pretty unremarkable. It would be nice in a container outside in a sunny spot but I am not confident enough that it would grow well unless the summer weather was hot. I am not sure if the flowers are good enough to make up for a lot of foliage. It might make an interesting addition to a container if I was planting for bees and butterflies but I think verbenas would do the same job and look more colourful. If I was gardening in a warmer climate things would be different though and I would plant it at the front of a border where it might look good and be more fragrant.