Meet Turnera subulata, also known as Yellow Alder, White Alder, Yellow Buttercup, Politician’s Flower and Sage Rose. By whatever name you prefer, you’ll find a reliable, easy-to-grow plant that will provide lots of color in your garden. T. subulata is a perennial herb that reaches about 2 ft. high and can be grown as a nice low shrub or ground cover. It is generally considered native to the Caribbean Basin, although some observers have tried to broaden its natural distribution to include Florida, Mexico, Central America and South America. This popular species not only attracts butterflies, but the brown “eye” inside each blossom lures bees to assist in pollination. Flowers open at sunrise and fold at dusk, to be succeeded by new ones the next day.
The plant is not at all particular about soil types. Moreoever, it does not require much in the way of fertilizer to support deep green foliage. You should grow it in full sun to achieve best flowering and form. This species has an open growth habit which can become leggy with age. However, if you prefer a more compact look, simply cut stems back periodically to make your plants branch closer to the ground. Aside from that exercising that option, maintenance on Turnera is minimal.
In at least two significant ways, T. subulata is superior to Impatiens: It is drought-tolerant once established, a feature of increasing importance now that Miami-Dade County is under permanent watering restrictions. In addition, it flowers year-round.
T. subulata has proven to have medicinal value as an herbal remedy for coughs and bronchitis. A study published by a Malaysian university in March 2012 reported that extracts prepared from various parts of this plant — particularly leaves — possess significant capacity to scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidants.
Richard Lyons’ Nursery has Turnera available in 1-gal. containers.