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a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

The Best Season Ever: Thryallis



Galphimia gracilis loves heat and sun, and can be ever-blooming in the tropics. The bush in the picture below is in Key West, and was in full flower in February. 




With such continuous and generous display, though, the flowers are taken for granted. Add casually dense growth and tolerance of both heat and drought, and you have a hardworking filler or large-scale groundcover. Effective yes, exciting, no.


In the North, thryallis is a choice container specimen or annual, usually in flower only in late Summer through frost. With its display a seasonal peak instead of so much colorful wallpaper, there isn't time to take the shrub for granted. Each flower spike is an event; each detail is now worth honoring.




Round buds each have plenty of space on the developing spike, as do the flowers to come.  




The stamens are a surprising bright red, but you wouldn't take the time to notice in the tropics, where a given shrub might display many hundreds of flowers at once.


My pair of thryallis spend the Summer in the red (well, reddish) garden. In the picture below, the emerging flowers will begin opening just in time for their red details to nod to the last red flowers of 'Jacob Cline' monarda. The soft burgundy of the shrub's stems highlights its yellow-and-red flowers all the better, and is a dandy contrast to the blue-blushed foliage of Crypto- meria japonica 'Yoshino', at the right, and Molinia arundinacea 'Skyracer', at the back. 




Here's how to grow this graceful and eager-to-please shrub:


Latin Name

Galphimia gracilis

Common Name

Thryallis, which is the prior name of this genus. Also known as galphimia and spray-of-gold.


Malpighiaceae, a family of tropical trees and shrubs native from Mexico to South America. Only one species within the family, Malpighia emarginata, is likely to be familiar to gardeners in North America. It is native as far north as Florida and southern Texas, where it is known as Barbados cherry on account of its round, red, dangling fruit.

What kind of plant is it?

Evergreen shrub.


Zones 9 - 11, but is reported to be being root-hardy into Zone 8.


Multi-stemmed and informally dense. Mature shrubs can become more sprawling and open, and benefit from pruning. See "How to handle it," below.

Rate of Growth

Fast when young, medium when mature.

Size in ten years

To six to eight feet wide and tall if growing free-range in optimally hot, frost-free, and sunny tropical conditions. Shorter in subtropical climates where comparatively cooler temperatures will slow growth, and occasional mild frosts will damage stem tips.


Young plants grow so quickly that they might reach four feet tall or higher their first season. 


Delicate, thanks to the slender foliage and airy flower clusters.

Grown for

its self-reliance: Thryallis is drought-tolerant and naturally bushy. In tropical climates, where the weather is at least mild and, often, outright hot year-round, it flowers continuously without needing the usual encouragements of seasonally-timed pruning or deadheading. Although the shrub can be enhanced by occasional pruning (see both "How to handle it" boxes, below), it looks presentable even when it doesn't receive much care or water.


its mounding, spreading habit: Branching is frequent enough, and dense enough, that thryallis can function as an effective groundcover. Its self-reliance and love of drought and sun make it an easy and attractive choice for large-scale planting, especially on banks, where good drainage is assured. 


its flowers: small delicate five-petaled flowers open from attractively-spaced round buds. The petals are bright yellow, shading to raspberry-red at their bases. The ten stamens are also raspberry-red, and tipped with anthers in the same lively yellow. The flowers are arrayed in airy spikes four to six inches long; mature bushes growing in full sun in hot climates can carry scores of active bloom spikes at a time.

Flowering season

When used seasonally, either as an annual or warm-weather container specimen, most of the flower spikes emerge in late Summer into Fall; scattered blooming may occur any time the weather is consistently warm. In tropical climates, thryallis can flower year round.

Color combinations

The leaves' hint of blue, the mild burgundy of the stems, and the flowers' bright yellow, make thryallis a natural part of blue-and-yellow schemes. The brighter details of the flowers can be an appealing wild card, but only if Galphimia is used where it will be viewed at close range, and appreciated as a specimen, not filler. Then this shrub can be a subtle lightener for the darker and, often, heavy feel of a red border. My red garden is often just a red-friendly garden and, so, Galphimia is even more appreciated.

Plant partners

The delicate blue of the leaves will read as green if you combine thryallis with plants whose foliage is more glaucous. (See the picture above, with Galphimia, Cryptomeria, and Molinia.) Instead, the burgundy stems of Galphimia, plus the red details of its flowers, are your opportunity to bring near a plant or two whose embrace of burgundy is more like a bear hug. These burgundy choices have similar needs for heat, drainage, sun: Hibiscus acetosella, Euphorbia cotinifolia, Dyckia fosteriana 'Cherry Cola'Oxalis vulcanicola 'Zinfandel', and the dark-leaved cultivars of Phormium.


Although Galphimia is intolerant of any but light shade, the shrub itself might grow large enough to cast some shade on plants to its north. That would be a congenial spot, culturally as well as aesthetically, for a thriving clump of Philodendron 'Black Cardinal'.


Keep in mind the fine-grained texture of Galphimia as you create active contrast with nearby foliage—such as that of all the burgundy recommen- dations above— that is distinctly different in shape or size or both. Especially when Galphimia is used as a large-scale groundcover, some bold foliage nearby will be welcome relief. 


When really happy, Galphimia is such a tireless bloomer that there's little need for flowers in the surrounding plants. That's good news, at least to my eyes: I'm quick to feel floral overload when multiple plants in a given patch of ground are in bloom at once. That said, there's a bounty of flowering plants that love the same heat and sun that Galphimia enjoys—so many that it can be a challenge to avoid them. Choose ones whose blooms' coloristic linkages are as clear as their contrast in size and character.


Bougainvillea is probably the elephant in the room, in that it's omnipresent wherever hardy. Its flowers' vibrant coloring can be garish, but if you can find a cultivar whose bracts are the same hue as the raspberry-red details of the flowers of Galphimia, buy it. Ensure a true match-up by taking a flower spike of Galphimia with you when you shop for Bougainvillea; only purchase plants that are in bloom so that your side-by-side comparison with your spike of Galphimia can be one of strict detachment. 


Other heat-loving plants whose flowers combine compatible coloring with contrasting scale and presentation include Abelmoschus manihot, Caesalpinia gilliesii and Caesalpinia pulcherrima 'Aurea', and Gloriosa lutea

Where to use it in your garden

Thryallis is nothing if not versatile, succeeding as a flowering annual, a container specimen, a clipped or free-range hedge, an informal foundation shrub, and a groundcover for medium to large spots. 


Full sun. Very light shade is tolerated, but is likely to reduce flowering and overall foliage density. In warm and frost-free climates where thryallis can grow outside year round, good drainage and warmth promote hardiness, vigorous growth, and floriferousness. Soils with greater nutrient value are usually more moisture-retentive, and would promote faster growth in the warmest months. But if good drainage isn't assured, especially during cooler months when the shrubs might be less active, enhance drainage by planting in leaner soils.


Hardiness isn't a concern when growing Galphimia as an annual, so feel free to use the rich moisture-retentive soil that promotes the fastest growth. Rich soil is also fine when growing Galphimia as a long-term container specimen: The shrub will soon grow to such size that its roots will have fully colonized the available soil, thereby ensuring that excess moisture is quickly absorbed. 

How to handle it: The Basics

Plant in Spring; ensuring enough water for establishment. No formative pruning is needed. If you want, clip off spent flower spikes; the shrub's natural tendency is toward heavy blooming when conditions are right, so this grooming is more for tidiness than to encourage further flowering.


If you have the room to allow Galphimia to grow at will, you might do nothing more than remove the occasional branch that has grown noticeably beyond the rest. However, it's often the case that control of size is needed—as when Galphimia is grown as a hedge, or is planted as a foundation shrub beneath windows. If the occasional cutting-out of the largest branches isn't sufficient, you could prune all stems back annually. If your climate has enough seasonal variation that Galphimia tends to begin flowering in late Summer, prune in early Spring, so that new growth has time to mature into "bloomability." If your climate is so warm year round that Galphimia is ever-blooming, prune towards the end of the rainy season, if any. The last rains will help new growth emerge, while the strengthening sun will enable it to grow quickly. If your climate is both mild and so dry that rains are erratic, prune anytime, watering deeply once or twice afterwards to help the shrub initiate new growth.

How to handle it: Another option—or two? 

Galphimia thrives when growing permanently in a container but, unless it's an unusually large one, you'll want to prune the shrub so that the amount of growth its roots can support is shapely and dense, not thin and leggy. Prune in Spring, watering as needed to encourage new shoots. Pinch the new shoots once, so their resultant side branches will keep the shrub even denser and lower.


Galphimia can grow quickly enough that containered plants can be sunk into garden soil for the Summer, enabling new roots to grow out through the container's drainage holes into the surrounding soil. Such Summer-sunk shrubs become larger and more floriferous than would be possible if their roots were limited to the container's soil. Before frost returns in the Fall, plunge the blade of your space vertically around the perimeter of the container to sever new roots that have grown out into the bed. Lift the containered shrub, and bring it into shelter for the Winter.


If heat and light are sufficient, Galphimia can bloom through the Winter. More likely, the shrub will slow down. Clip spent flower spikes and reduce watering. By March, the return of longer days and generous solar heating will thoroughly warm greenhouses and sunny windowsills, helping Galphimia to resume growth. Water and fertilize; do any major pruning now, too. Return the container to the garden after danger of frost is past.


Galphimia can also be grown as an annual. Set out young plants after frost-free temperatures are assured, siting in full sun. Because Galphimia loves heat, locations near masonry—a south-facing terrace backed by walls, or around a pool—are usually beneficial, in that the masonry will absorb energy during the day and radiate it as heat into cooler air during the night. Pinch lightly at the time of planting, to encourage side branches and, later in Summer, all the more flowers.

Quirks and special cases

Galphimia is an anagram of Malpighia, a related genus.




None, although the species seems nearly identical to Galphimia glauca, whose petals are shed more readily as the flowers mature to seeds.  


On-line and, where hardy, at local retailers  


By seed, and by cuttings taken in Summer.

Native habitat

Galphimia gracilis is native from Mexico to Peru.   






































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