Pink Breath of Heaven, Rescued!

A lovely shrub, native of South Africa, I rescued two of these plants from the clearance bin. img_1503img_1504It’s been nearly a year and they’re both still alive, with one thriving a bit better than the other. Click on the photo on the far right to get a better view of the very pretty small pink flowers! The photo next to it is the same plant, from a different angle. When I rescued these plants, both were 75% brown and near ready for the green waste recycling bin, but now are 50% and 75% green, a happy turnaround indeed.

Also known as confetti bush, pink diosma, Diosma pulchra, Coleonema pulchellum I. Williams, the soft needle-like leaves are aromatic – gently rub between your fingertips and you’ll smell a wonderful fragrance.

As soon as one of these lovely shrubs is strong enough, I will take cuttings and attempt to propagate it, using two methods:  one dipped in rooting hormone and planted in potting soil in a small container, and a separate cutting dropped into a small water-filled vase. Stay tuned for updates!

Update 12/27/2014: After a few months of watching and waiting, I was not successful in my latest attempt to propagate this plant from cuttings by dipping cut ends into rooting hormone powder and planting into moist potting medium. Will try to figure out alternative methods! In the meantime, both plants are thriving, growing tall and wide, gracefully swaying with the breezes.


40 Responses

  1. I just purchased several 6″ pots of Pink Breath of Heaven. They are just breath-taking. I am excited to see how your propagating comes out. I have never done that before and would love to try it one these plants. Good luck.

    • Dear Melissa,
      Thank you for your good wishes. I’ll attempt to propagate my pink breath of heaven sometime in the spring. I’ll post the results of that effort in a future blog entry. Thank you for visiting my blog!

  2. I have a new pink breath of heaven and it suddenly has some brown leaves. Not sure if I am watering it too much. Could that be causing the brown areas? Should I trim off the brown areas?

    • Dear Kathy, the pink breath of heaven plant enjoys acidic soil that drains very well (i.e., it does not like to sit in soggy soil). You may trim the brown areas. This is a sturdy plant. When I purchased my 2 pink breath of heaven plants, they were rescue plants and one of them I bought was already brown. That was over a year ago. I did not cut off the brown areas and both plants are thriving. Hopefully, this will be result for your new plant as well. Let me know how it works out for your plant, and many thanks for visiting my blog!

  3. can I cut the roots off of a pink breath of heaven to stunt its growth?

    • Dear Jean,
      Cutting the roots may seriously injure or kill your plant, rather than stunt its growth. I do not recommend it.

  4. Can I cut off haft of my Pink breath of Heaven to keep it contained in a small pot

    • Dear Jean,
      If in small pots, I would recommend that you carefully divide your one plant into two or more smaller plants. Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

  5. I planted 2 of these in the same garden bed last spring. One is doing very well, but the other has turned almost completely brown. Should I move it, or is all hope lost?

    • Dear Annabella,
      I would not lose hope just yet. One of my 2 pink breath of heaven plants was about 3/4 brown when I bought it – and it has in the past few years regained vigor and is now green and flowering. I would not move it nor do anything with any of the brown vegetation. The plants need good drainage, i.e., should not be in soggy soil and really enjoy sunlight. I usually water my plants once a week. Please do keep me updated on the progress of your plants, and many thanks for visiting my blog!

  6. I have had a beautiful Breath of Heaven plant in my garden for several years now. It blooms every year late winter and is stunning. The one problem with this plant is that it smells like, well – dog poop. It took me a very long time to figure out is was the plant and not the neighbor’s dog! (the dog died and my yard still reeked). The smell is only when the plant is in bloom. My husband thinks I’m crazy. The nursery thinks I’m crazy. So, I had neighbors over for the “smell test”. They agreed with me. I’ve never seen a butterfly or bee land on the plant but there have been many flies feasting away on it. Now, I challenge you to smell your plant and see what you think. I’m almost sure it’s a “genetic” smell trait that some of us have, and others don’t.


    • Dear Sharon,
      I am not aware of the pink breath of heaven plant producing the type of smell that you are describing. I stepped out to my backyard a few minutes ago to check out my own pink breath of heaven plants for their scent. They smell nicely aromatic, “herby,” very pleasant. I do not have expertise on the “genetic” smell trait that you are proposing, but may I suggest another possible explanation?

      In the areas surrounding your plant, carefully and gently check around the plant for any other possible source of that smell, above *and* below ground, including animal poop from animals that may have gotten into your yard, deceased animal or bird (sometimes these animals or birds died or were eaten by other animals), heavy soil that does not drain well, decaying vegetation such as weeds, among other possibilities. Let me know what you find out, and many thanks for visiting my blog!

      • I have done just that – many times over the years. What really sealed the deal was that the neighbors and I took a trip to the nursery and smelled THEIR plants. Each of us agreed – it was the same smell as at home. Some people can’t stand the taste of artificial sweetners and that’s a genetic predisposition. My guess is that my smeller and the smeller of SOME of my neighbors is predisposed to smelling that poopy smell – and yours is programmed for herby smell – thus the name “breath of heaven” (the namer had your smeller). The bush is so beautiful that we’ve just decided to walk by it holding our noses and ignoring the flies.
        By the way, does your bush attract flies too? Have you seen bees or butterflies on yours? Bet not.
        Thanks for your prompt and helpful reply!

      • I have seen butterflies on my pink breath of heaven plants; bees, I am not sure. But then again, I am away at work most of the time so do not get a chance to monitor more closely the lively insect activity of my backyard, as I would like. The genetic predisposition theory sounds interesting. May I suggest that perhaps you contact a forum or blog related to genetics and describe your situation? I hope you get further insights from such experts – my warmest wishes of good luck to you!

    • I agree if you Sharon. My diosma smells like dog poo too. However, I’ve got 2 diosma and only one smells like dog poo while the other smells really fragrant. The one the smells like dog poo used to smell really fragrant before I planted it into the ground last year. Since it flowered over winter this year it is now smelling like dog poo.

    • For others who may come across this post, perhaps this explains the cause of the foul odor mentioned above:

      “Of hard-wooded plants the sweetest are the Diosmas and Adenandras (heath-like plants), Leptospennum (allied to the Myrtles), and Boronias. Diosma, capitata, fragrans, ciliata, and speciosa are fresh and fragrant, lasting weeks in water, and retaining their leaves and sweetness when dead; but beware of D. crenulata, the intolerable smell of whose foliage is not counterbalanced by its beautiful white starry flowers, in bloom in December.
      The Diosmas and Adenandras are so mixed up in nurseries that it is prudent to see and smell the different sorts for one 5 self, and not vaguely order by a catalogue.”

  7. Hi Jane,

    I only have morning sun, can i plant the pink breath of heaven there. there are some days it is have sun goes to this area till 2:00pm. Then mostly shade. How tall can this plant get and wide? How about sunset gold breath of heaven? It is a smaller version right? Thank you very much. I lived in San ramon CA. I just moved here so i don’t know what Summer will be like. A few months ago, there mostly rain here.

    • Hi, Susan,
      Yes, pink breath of heaven plants can do well in part sun and part shade. That is my situation, in fact. The pink breath of heaven plant can grow to about 5 feet high and 5 feet wide, although I have seen the estimates go up to 6 feet for height and width.

      From what I have read about the sunset gold or golden breath of heaven, it does tend to be shorter (about 2 to 4 feet) BUT the width is about the same as the pink breath of heaven (about 5 feet).

      For the pink as well as the golden varieties, the plants thrive in well-draining soil.

      I hope this helps. Many thanks for visiting my blog!

  8. Someone in my local nursery told me that Veitchii Gardenia need to grow in the shade area. However when i read online it said full sun and partial shade. I am confused now. Because my area is only morning sun by my front door, my front door is by the side. How about Brillance Autumn Fern? Does is do well in the morning sun area? Thanks. I have clay soil. What are other plants that you recommend for the shade area or partial sun area under 4 feet tall. Thanks again.

    • Hi, Susan,
      I have seen Veitchii gardenia grow in sun and shade, and thrive in both. The brilliance autumn fern requires full to partial shade, so if you are getting only morning sun but shade for the rest of the day, I would guess that would be fine.

      Regarding which plants are best for your particular climate and geographical location, I would ask your local garden specialist, who orders plants that are known to do well in your area and which plants thrive in which sun and shade conditions. San Ramon, CA looks to be in the USDA zone 9 (

      Best of luck in developing your garden!

  9. I understand that it prefers well drained soil and acidity, but it’s thriving
    fine in our clay soil with alkalinity in Davis, California. I had this in
    my garden in San Francisco years ago and loved using it in flower
    arrangements. Much more interesting than baby’s breath. My only
    question is how to prune it so that it doesn’t take over the whole
    garden bed? It’s rather floppy.

    • Hi, Theresa,
      Congratulations on your healthy plant! I would wait until after the plant’s flowering is done to do pruning. Depending on the thickness of the branches, I would use garden shears or a lopper and start trimming off the outer branches. This method will produce a more cone-shaped plant. I think it is an excellent idea to use these cuttings in flower arrangements! Many thanks for visiting my blog!

  10. We just bought the pink breath of heaven totally dead it seems. It was a dollar so we figured we would try out our green thumb and see if we can get it thriving. Could someone please tell us the best thing we can do to transplant into the ground. If soil with fertilizer would be the best. or if there is something else we can do and things we shouldn’t. Should we prune, cut to the bare root what? We would appreciate any advice.

    • Hi, Antonia,
      I bought my pink breath of heaven plants in a similar situation. When I brought my two plants home, I dug two holes in my backyard, bare soil, and planted them. It took a few months before seeing some improvement. One of the plants showed greater improvement in health and growth of flowers while the other looked like it would remain brown forever. But, with persistence, once a week watering, both are now doing fine. I have only added water, no fertilizer whatsoever, nor did I prune either of my plants. It was a very slow process, so don’t let the *appearance* of your plant being dead discourage you – it may not be dead at all and just needs time.

      I hope this helps. Please do give me updates when you can on the condition of your plant. Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

  11. Thank you. It does help. I had read your story but wasn’t sure if I should do any pruning. I will let you know how it turns out. Again thanks

  12. I had a good chuckle when I read that diosma is called ‘breath of heaven’. If heaven smells like my diosma……..well, is there anywhere else you can go for the afterlife? Our diosma really stinks. Can’t say it is a dog poo smell, but it is decidedly unpleasant. My ordinary green diosma doesn’t smell like that. It is such a pretty plant, it a shame it smells sooooo bad.

  13. Hi, I have a question. I just planted some pink breath of heaven bushes in San Diego in front of the house where there is a lot of sun. I put miracle grow pellets in the soil. It’s been a couple of weeks and they all ready look really light and like they are bleaching or dying?!?! Help??

    • Hi, Viv-
      I would be concerned if the needle-like leaves and/or stems were turning brown, which could indicate some portion of the plant dying, but not necessarily the whole plant. I’ve purchased a few of these plants from the clearance bin, partially brown and they are now thriving. I am not aware of these plants bleaching or becoming lighter because of sun exposure. The color of the leaves of plants, in general, can change because of the amounts and types of nutrients of the soil that they are planted in, especially if there is a nutritional deficiency. This plant thrives in acidic soil, so your soil might not have enough acidity. To correct this, if this is the cause of the fading color, you can purchase at a gardening center soil amendments for acid-loving plants. There are also do-it-yourself soil amendments that produce similar results.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know how your plants get on. Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

  14. looking for little breath of Heaven ground cover

    • Hi, Mellissia,
      Breath of heaven, in the United States, grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11, generally speaking. If you live in the United States, you can find out your USDA Hardiness Zone number by entering on their website:

      These plants grow to a height of about 3 to 4 feet tall and about 4 to 6 feet wide. I hope this helps, and thank you for visiting my blog!

  15. I have a breath of heaven which branches look to be drying , not brown in color still green though I have watered it as it was specified. It is still in a pot and not transplanted yet. What is the best way to revive this plant ?

    • Hi, Julie,
      From my experience, this plant is resilient. When I purchased mine, both had dry branches with no leaves and were in 5-gallon containers.I transplanted them directly into the soil in my backyard and over time, the dry branches were rejuvenated, filled with leaves.

      If the plant continues to dry, it might be that the soil has insufficient nutrients. This can be remedied by providing your plant with an all-purpose fertilizer, to include nitrogen, which will help promote leaf growth. I hope this helps, and please do update me on how your plant fares. Many thanks for visiting my blog!

  16. My breath of heaven went through a freeze in California. Some of the branches are brown and the leaves fall off. Do I cut these off?

    • Hello,
      Yes, you may prune the brown branches. Good luck with your plant and many thanks for visiting my blog!

  17. Did your cuttings work. I’ve read all thru this post but never saw an updated. I want to use golden breath of heaven as a hedge between a path and flower bed. In an short to save money if like to do cuttings.

    • Dear Megan, my initial effort was unsuccessful. I will be re-attempting another effort starting this weekend with fresh cuttings. I dip the cut side into powdered rooting hormone and then place the cutting into a moist potting medium. My initial effort was to plant the hormoned-cutting directly into the soil and another batch into potting soil. Neither of these worked. A laughable effort was also to try to root a cutting in a small glass of water. So, this weekend, I plan to plant the hormoned-cutting into a different medium – a starter pellet that I have to moisten with warm water, manufactured by Jiffy. If this latest effort is successful (or not), I will post the results. Thank you for visiting my blog and congratulations on on your plan to have a golden breath of heaven hedge!

  18. I have 5 thriving breath of heaven plants in San Diego, however they smell to high heavens. Like other comments I have read smell like dog or cat poop. Any ideas how to counter act this?

    • Hello! I would try planting something like lavender, which is drought tolerant, very fragrant (hopefully will counteract the smell you’re reporting about the breath of heaven), and is a good aesthetic companion. I’m thinking of herbaceous and other such plants known for their fragrance. Please keep me posted on what you decide, and many thanks for visiting my blog!

  19. Thanks that is what I was thinking as well. I will update on my progress!

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