You will find Breynia plant in a number of garden centers and department stores but in very few textbooks. It is basically a greenhouse plant which was introduced as a house plant in the 1980s. This native of the southern Pacific islands may also be grown as a tender perennial. Under glass it will grow into a shrub; in the living room Breynia is grown as a small bush, with slender branches densely clothed with colorful leaves.
Breynia nivosa (Snowbush, Hawaiian Snow Bush) has green leaves marbled with white. The variety B. roseopicta is the usual choice. The pink, white and green variegated leaves have a flower-like appearance – hence the common name.
Breynia gives a contrast of cream and pink color and green variegated and gives appearance like snow fall. New growth displays the color. Keep trimmed to promote color and fullness.
Plant Breynia in a container, mixed border or massed planting, especially under a cluster of large palms or evergreen trees. Its branches are very delicate looking and with fine texture leaves, would look especially lovely in front of a dark red or green hedge or wall.
How to plant?
Dig holes or beds wide, not deep. Lightly amend heavy clay or sandy soils with organic matter. Gently remove plants from containers, keeping the root ball intact. Loosen potting soil and roots around bottom and edges of root ball.
Plant level with surrounding soil, spreading roots outward. Fill around roots with lightly amended native soil. Water to settle soil around roots. Cover the area with leaf or bark mulch 1 – 3 inches thick but not piled up onto the plant’s stem/trunk. Water deeply. Stake large shrubs or trees to prevent excess movement in strong winds.
Secrets of success
Temperature: Average warmth – minimum 50°F in winter.
Light: Bright light, avoid direct sunshine.
Water: Keep compost moist at all times during the growing season. Most winter injury is from drying out, not cold temperatures. Be prepared to water during prolonged sunny, windy, dry spells even in the winter.
Air humidity: Humidity can be the problem – Breynia needs a moist atmosphere. Mist leaves frequently.
Soil: Breynia prefers part-sun and humus rich, well-drained soil.
Repotting: Repot in spring every 2 years.
Propagation: Take stem cuttings in summer. Make sure each cutting has a heel at the base.