When life gets me down, the happy place I envision is a hammock swaying in the dappled shade of tropical trees, surrounded by the rich chocolatey scent of Jamaican Bell Flowers. A flower that smells like chocolate? There really is such a thing! Read more to learn how to grow your own chocolate scented Jamaican Bell Flower plants.
What are Jamaican Bell Flower Plants?
Also known as Glorious Flower of Cuba, Jamaican Bell Flower (Portlandia grandiflora) is a slow growing evergreen shrub native to Jamaica and Cuba. The plant starts out looking like a small tree, with one single stem, but fills out to be more shrub-like with age. Generally, you’ll find it growing only about 6 ft. tall but sometimes reaches a height of 15 ft.
The flowers are trumpet shaped, 5-6” long and white or pink, smelling like rich creamy chocolate. These flowers are beautifully contrasted by the plant’s dark green leathery leaves. Jamaican Bell Flowers usually bloom late spring to early summer.
Growing a Jamaican Bell Flower Plant
Named for the Duchess of Portland, Portlandia grandiflora nearly went extinct until it was propagated by the Jamaican Arboretum in recent years. Now it is available to purchase in garden centers and catalogs all over the world. However, Jamaican Bell Flower plants cannot tolerate any frost and need a very humid environment. They are best suited for tropical locations or a warm greenhouse.
Jamaican Bell Flowers grow best in part shade or filtered sunlight, but they can grow in full sun also. Unlike most evergreen shrubs, Portlandia grandiflora likes a limey/alkaline soil. It requires a lot of water and temperatures no lower than 50 degrees F. or 10 C.
Caring for Jamaican Bell Flowers is easy as long as you keep their soil consistently moist. In spring, give them a non-acidic soil release fertilizer.
To keep Jamaican Bell Flower plants from growing too large, trim the shoots back once a year. In the right conditions, Jamaican Bell Flowers can be delightful long-lived, tropical houseplants.