I first happened upon Dyschoriste hygrophyloides (Bridal Flower) during a visit to a friend’s house in Florida in the spring of 2007. He took me to a somewhat famous tropical plant hotspot called Jesse Durko’s Nursery in Davie. It was there that Dyschoriste hygrophyloides and many, many other tropical plants were for sale. Unfortunately for me it was a little like being on a diet and watching your friends eat at Cold Stone for dessert. I knew pretty much the majority of plants for sale in the nursery would not make it through a cool Southern California winter.
Of course, all was not lost or this post wouldn’t exist. I did manage to talk to Jesse about some “cold-hardy” Florida plants with my reasoning that they might be “cold-hardy” in my garden too. This led me to Dyschoriste hygrophyloides. The plants for sale were in 1-gallon pots and only had a few flowers on them. The flowers they did have showing were quite pretty and unique. The flower almost had a Barleria crostata (Philippine violet) look to it. Considering it was only a few bucks, I added one to my riches of purchased plants from Florida to bring back and try in my California garden.
Once back home I planted it immediately into a full sun-facing spot in the yard that also had southern exposure. My Dyschoriste hygrophyloides luxuriated where it was planted and by the end of the fall was already a dense, spreading shrub that was about 5 feet high. That winter we saw the low 30s a few time (no freezes, however). The plant did not miss a beat. It was then that I knew it would be a winner for a Mediterranean garden. One of the few successes from the plants brought back from Florida for trial.
The following spring I cut the plant back to force new growth and flower in mass again. After I cut it back I noticed that some branches had rooted themselves into the soil. So I dug those up and put them in pots. A couple weeks later I had a few more Dyschoriste hygrophyloides that I could plant around the garden. These two plants below, which are helping to screen a fence that needs painting, came off my original plant.
Bridal Flower can be pruned into a hedge, which I have been forced to do with my original planting. While it has no issue being hedged, it will not flower. So I have found it best to plant in a location where it can really spread its wings. As you can see from the pictures below, a hedged plant won’t bloom.
The flower on Dyschoriste hygrophyloides is actually quite challenging to get a picture of to give you a true representation of what you see live. It is a very pretty purple with a dark violet throat. Colors in photos tend to be more washed out than they are when you see it live in person. The flowers only last a day, but when in bloom the plant is covered in dense clusters of flowers.
Another interesting trait of the flower is its scent. As my 6-year-old daughter said once about it: “Ewww.” And a few seconds later: “Why do I keep smelling it?” It just has that kind of scent. It is not what you would expect when you first smell it, but after that first whiff the scent grows on you. Sorry, it’s getting late and I have no other way to describe it.
Dyschoriste hygrophyloides is very easy to grow from cuttings. I have turned my one plant into many by simply digging out the rooted branches that feel over. I have not tried to grow Bridal Flower from seed.
I really do not know why this plant isn’t found in Mediterranean climates more often. Personally, I have not seen it planted in any other gardens that I have visited in Southern California. When Dyschoriste hygrophyloides is given regular watering and full sun, it makes for a very attractive addition to a garden. If you can find one, buy it. I doubt you will be disappointed.