S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing
in the Northeast Florida Landscape
( Cestrum elegans ‘Smithii’ )
Pink Cestrum / elegans Smithii Origins:
– Native to southern portions of North America ( Mexico)
Pink Cestrum is a climbing or sprawling evergreen shrub that is winter hardy to 25-30 degrees.
– Although these plants are hard to come by, they are worth the wait to add
them to your landscape. I stock them every time I can find them here at S & J Nursery! Cestrum elegans
Smithii is cultivated for their soft pink blooms and easy maintenance plant habit. Pink cestrum blooms
sporadically in late spring, summer and fall.
Sun Exposure for the Pink Cestrum / Cestrum elegans Smithii:
– Cestrum elegans Smithii plants are best planted in areas that will
receive full or partial sun. In Northeast Florida, a plant receiving 6 hours or more of sun exposure
is considered to be planted in a full sun location. Morning shade and afternoon sun is ideal, or filtered
light under taller growing shade trees. Plants will bloom less in lower light areas but may be better protected
from damaging winter frosts in those same shadier locations.
– Best if planted on the south side of the house away from cold north winds,
up next to a fence or near the foundation of a home or other building, or near larger shade trees that will
protect these tropical plants from frost. Or plant on the west side of a home or building.
Foliage of the Pink Cestrum / Cestrum elegans var. Smithii Plant:
– Medium green evergreen foliage in zone 10-11, semi evergreen to deciduous in Zones
– Foliage may remain evergreen or may go dormant in our Northeast Florida
area gardens. But will quickly regrow from its roots or stems the following spring in the Jacksonville and St.
Augustine area gardens.
– As with all tropical plantings, they are particularly responsive to their
individual planting location. When planted on the south side of the house away from north winds, or where
receiving some frost protection from larger trees or nearby buildings.
– Leaves, flowers and berries all contain toxins, so plant at the
back of the border to keep nibbling creatures away.
Soil Preference / Salt tolerance of the Pink Cestrum Cestrum elegans
– Pink Cestrum plants are at home in our Northeast
Florida’s sandy soils but will still benefit from soil amendment at planting time. Amend the soil when planting
with compost to help your Jacksonville and St. Augustine area soil hold both water and
nutrients and keep your cestrum plants healthy and blooming.
– Salt tolerance unknown
Size Variance of Pink Cestrum / Cestrum elegans Smithii Plants:
– The foliage on the Pink Cestrum plant can reach heights of 8-10 ft in
more tropical areas of Florida. Here in our Northeast Florida landscape they are normally seen at around 3-4 ft
high and wide. Taller if allowed to climb.
Growth Habit of the Pink Cestrum / Cestrum elegans Smithii Plants:
– Upright foliage will produce long sprawling stems if not trimmed. (Semi
– vining habit lends itself to espalier plantings or use on a trellis but can easily be trimmed to shrub
– Responds well to harsh pruning, so don’t be afraid to cut them
back and keep them nice and tidy!
Growth Rate of the Pink Cestrum / Cestrum elegans Smithii Plant:
– Fast growing particularly during the hot summer months!
Blooms of the Pink Cestrum / Cestrum elegans ‘Smithii’:
– Blooms on an off a few times each year during summer and fall.
– One inch long tubular blooms in semi cascading
clusters, blooms of the Cestrum elegans Smithii are a beautiful soft baby pink or light rose pink
– Rosy Pink non edible berries follow the soft pink bloom
Water Requirements of the Pink Cestrum / Cestrum elegans Smithii :
– Although much more durable once established in the landscape, regular water is
necessary to get the plant rooted and growing on its own after being planted in the ground from an S & J
– Fully rooted and established cestrum plants are moderately
drought tolerant and should only need supplemental irrigation in times of drought.
Best Uses For Pink Cestrum in the Jacksonville | St. Augustine Area
– Cestrum plants can be used in foundation plantings, as an accent near
entry ways patio areas porches or windows where the fragrance can easily be enjoyed, espalier, or potted
– Easy care landscape plant , with the minimum of a once a year trimming
– Makes an excellent hedge screen when planted along side of wooden
Care of Pink Cestrum / Cestrum elegans Smithii in the Northeast Florida
– Amend sandy soils generously with compost to help your Pink Cestrum /
Cestrum elegans Smithii plants get the much needed water and nutrients it takes to feed
these heavy blooming beauties.
– Water every day during the establishment period after planting in the garden from
an S & J Nursery container. Be sure to continue supplemental irrigation during the hot summer months during
– Fertilize each year just after trimming in the spring with a good chovelfull
of garden compost or use Osmocote or another slow release plant food spring, summer and fall.
– When temperatures drop below 25-30 degrees you may opt to protect your
foliage and stems from severe frost damage by throwing a blanket or other breathable fabric over the top of the
plant making sure the edges touch the ground to trap in the heat from the soil.
– Make your last summer pruning in August giving your Pink Cestrum /
Cestrum elegans Smithii plant ample time to recover new foliage that will harden off before winter arrives for
us here in late December. Pruning to late into the fall will cause flushes of cold sensitive new growth that is
sure to freeze during even a light frost that hardened off foliage would not be affected by.
– DO NOT REMOVE WINTER BURNT FOLIAGE UNTIL ALL DANGER OF FROST HAS PASSED. Be
sure not to remove any stems or leaves from the plant until we have reached the last average frost date and
there are no late freezes being predicted. ( mid February for Northeast Florida is the average last frost date)
Trimming burnt foliage and stems before then will leave bare branches deeper on the plant exposed to cold
temperatures that would have been protected by those same stems and foliage if left unpruned and most often
results in loss of the plant entirely.