- Author: Ardis Neilsen
- Editor: Noni Todd
Breath of Heaven
By Ardis Neilsen UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: Pink Breath of Heaven
Scientific Name: Coleonema pulchellum or pulchrum
Planting Zone: Sunsetzones 7-9, 14-24
Size: 4-6feet tall, 4 -5 feet wide
Bloom Season: Spring to fall
Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
Pruning Needs: Trim lightly
Water Needs: Regular watering, drought tolerant once established
Crush the leaves and flowers of a “Breath of Heaven” (Pink) plant, and you will find out why this graceful evergreen shrub was given such an intriguing name. Its gentle fragrance is soft and clean, like a breath of fresh air.
Spring's arrival is announced when the petite, star-shaped pink flowers appear. They grow at the ends of the plant's slender branches, which are lined with green, feathery, heather-like leaves. Even though Breath of Heaven is a large shrub at full maturity, it has a light and airy feeling to it, as seen when its branches sway in unison with the wind.
This South African native looks delicate in appearance, but is surprisingly hardy. Well-suited for the Central Coast, it tolerates drought, wind, and salty coastal conditions. It is deer resistant and prefers slightly acidic, well-drained soil in addition to being cold hardy to 20° Fahrenheit.
Grow Breath of Heaven as a hedge, an accent plant in a garden bed, or in a large patio pot. This pollinator attracts hummingbirds and bees and fits in well with cottage or Mediterranean garden designs.
Pruning should be done after blooming to help the plant retain a desired size, but the shrub generally looks better and flowers more with little to no pruning, which encourages it to maintain its natural, wispy style. If a smaller plant is needed, look for a dwarf variety. Like most spring-blooming shrubs, its blossoms are on the new growth. Avoid cutting back to old wood, because the shrub will not produce new growth from the older, woody branches.
An added bonus is that the Breath of Heaven's wispy branches can be used as attractive filler in floral arrangements.
So add a little bit of heaven to your garden retreat. Breathe deeply to enjoy the refreshing scent of Breath of Heaven and watch it move gently with the wind.