By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
A longtime favorite of Gulf Coast gardeners, growing candle bush (Senna alata) adds a showy, yet old-fashioned, touch to the full sun landscape. Upright racemes of yellow flowers resemble a candlestick, hence the common name of candlestick plant.
Candlestick Plant Info
Candlestick senna, previously called candlestick cassia (Cassia alata), is described as a small tree or shrub, depending on which candlestick plant info one reads. When growing candle bush in the warmest of USDA Hardiness zones, the plant may return for several years, allowing the trunk to develop to tree size. In more northern areas of the south, grow candle bush as an annual that may return following unusually mild winters.
Candlestick senna provides spiky, bold, late summer color, making it a somewhat useful specimen for many warm season landscapes. Candlestick plant info says the plant is native to Central and South America.
Candlestick plant info indicates the brightly flowering bush attracts pollinators, as larvae of sulphur butterflies feed on the plant. Candlestick senna is also said to have anti-fungal properties.
How to Grow Candlestick
Growing candle bush can rapidly add interest in the back of a bed, in a mixed shrub border or even as a focal point in the bare landscape. Growing candle bush provides form and color while you’re waiting on more permanent specimens to establish and grow.
While the tree is attractive and elegant in its native habitat, many who are familiar with growing this plant in the U.S. say it is actually a noxious, self-seeding weed. Plant cautiously when learning how to grow candlestick, perhaps in a container. Remove the green winged samaras before they produce seed, as well as any young seedlings that are sprouting if you don’t wish for its return to your beds and borders.
Growing candle bush can be started from seed. Soak seeds overnight and direct sow in the spring when chances of frost have passed. Keep in mind, candlestick senna may reach 15 feet in height, so make sure it has room to shoot up and out.
Senna Candlestick Care
Senna candlestick care is minimal. Water seeds until they sprout and watch the plant take off. In areas where candlestick senna may remain for a few years, pruning for shape is often necessary for the best appearance. Heavy pruning when blooms are finished results in a more compact and attractive bush. If you find the plant shabby, invasive or a nuisance, don’t be afraid to cut it to the ground or take it out by the roots.