Have you seen a blooming plant with tiny stalks covered with clouds of small, airy, starry hot pink flowers among golden-green leaves? Jewels Of Opar (Talinum paniculatum) blooms will rapidly give way to tiny beautifully colored seed heads of ruby red, burgundy, and gold, each looking like a little jewel. Sometimes called flame flower, this relative of portulaca is unique and worth searching for. The leaves are large, succulent, and sedum-like, in shades of chartreuse to blue green. Some think its biggest contribution to the garden is its mounds of leaves that last spring through fall. In summer, tiny flower stalks raise a foot and a half to two feet above the leaves. Many consider this plant at its most beautiful in late summer and fall when the seed pods begin to form and sparkle in the sun. Jewels of Opar are beautiful companion plants to summer and fall blooming roses. They work well as a border around the rose bed.
When the jewels are done ‘sparkling’, they turn gray and dangle from the stalks. The seeds are now mature and the stalks can be removed to prevent reseeding. These plants do reseed readily and can be quite invasive. However, they can be easily thinned out as they come up, the seedlings given away as pass-along-plants or relocated to other parts of the garden. In the winter Jewels of Opar do very well in containers indoors in a sunny window where they continue to bloom and produce jewels.
It is considered a reseeding annual or tender perennial in most of the U.S. and is considered appropriate for zones 8-11. It likes the heat and sun but will tolerate some shade. It likes moist, well-drained soil, but is drought resistant for periods of time. It likes ordinary, loose, somewhat sandy, slightly acidic garden soil. It does well in rock gardens and reseeds abundantly in cracks and among rocks.
For those who like flower arranging, an added bonus to this plant is how well it looks in floral arrangements and bouquets, either fresh or dried. The individual flowers on their airy stalks are small, but are nice massed together, especially with the red bead-like buds and fruit. The tall stalks of flowers and colorful seed heads work well as a background plant in arrangements and as filler in bouquets. They have excellent textural interest. The more you cut, the more this jewel will rebloom. Great plant.
Mary Wilkerson, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service