Story and Photography Yvonne Lelong Bordelon

White-flowering turnera is a useful ornamental native to tropical America. These sturdy shrubs are adaptable to many growing conditions and are drought and salt tolerant once established. The showy white flowers are pollinator magnets – especially to honeybees, bumblebees, and butterflies – making it a welcome addition to the wildlife garden or sustainable landscape.

The flowers on this plant have long stamens and short pistils. To produce seeds, the pollen collected here must be taken to a flower on another plant, which has short stamens and long pistils.

North of Zone 9b, it can be grown in containers or in the landscape as an annual. White-flowering turnera was an LSU AgCenter 2017 Plants with Potential selection. At this time, there is limited commercial availability, but I hope that to see more garden centers stocking this great pollinator plant.

Good companion plants include daylilies (Hemerocallis), Lantana, Pentas, and various Salvia species.

Honeybees, bumblebees, and other pollinators visit turnera to collect pollen, as evidenced by the mass of golden-yellow pollen on the back legs of this honeybee.

Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: White-flowering turnera, white buttercup, white alder
Botanical Name: Turnera subulata
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 9b-11
Color: White bloom with a gold center and dark eye
Blooming Period: Mid-spring to early fall
Type: Tropical perennial evergreen shrub; annual north of Zone 9b 
Mature Size: 18-24 inches tall
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
How to Plant: Plant after last spring frost, 12-15 inches apart in well-drained soil with moderate water. It adapts to a variety of soil types. Propagate from summer stem cuttings or by seed. There are two types of flowers and they cannot self-pollinate. To produce seeds, each type must be pollinated by pollen from a plant with the other flower type.
When to Prune: After flowering, if a fuller plant is desired.
In Your Landscape: Turnera is an easy-to-grow, showy, versatile plant that is perfect for the sustainable landscape and the pollinator garden.

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