How to Grow and Care for the Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow Plants (Brunfelsia)

Perennial shrub is unique for its changing flower colors

Brunfelsia pauciflora plant with purple and white flowers in shrub branches

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

The yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plant (Brunfelsia pauciflora) might be one of the longest plant names, and the name fits for more than one reason. The flowers change their color from one day to the next, starting purple, turning lavender, and finally becoming white as they mature. Plus, this tropical evergreen shrub is a long, persistent bloomer.

Related plants Brunfelsia australis and Brunfelsia grandiflora are also called yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plants. They flower similarly, starting with purplish hues and fading to white. These plants are native to South America and are commonly called Brazil raintree.

After the first heavy bloom in the spring, it will produce more of its showy, fragrant flowers in the fall or anytime during the year if it likes its location. Its flowers release its scent at night, ranging in aroma from a heady musk to a spicy clove.

In cooler climates, brunfelsia plants can only be grown as container plants that need to be brought indoors for the winter, or else they will die over the winter. Beware, this plant is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. Brunfelsia is not listed as toxic to humans; however, it is a nightshade plant, and some people are allergic to members of the Solanaceae family.

Common Name Yesterday-today-and tomorrow plant, Morning-noon-and-night, Kiss-me-quick, Brazil raintree, Franciscan raintree 
otanical Name Brunfelsia pauciflora
Family Solanaceae
Plant Type Shrub
Mature Size 3-8 feet high, 4-6 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Sandy, silt, loamy
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Spring, summer, fall
Flower Color Purple, white
Hardiness Zones 9-11 (USDA)
Native Area South America
Toxicity Toxic to pets

Brunfelsia Pauciflora Care

Growing brunfelsia in your yard is easy if your local climate allows it. But even if you can only grow it in a container, it requires relatively little maintenance.

Its basic care needs are simple. It thrives in acidic soil, requires fertilizer regularly, and likes moist soil. It prefers tropically warm environments with humidity and prefers filtered light but can tolerate full sun.

Brunfelsia pauciflora plant with purple and white flowers in branches closeup

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Brunfelsia pauciflora plant with small purple flower in shrub branch

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plant in an outdoor setting
Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plant in an outdoor setting Carita Liberato / Getty Images


In its natural habitat, yesterday-today-and-tomorrow grows in light woodland and thickets with partial shade where it is protected from the scorching sun. An excellent location to plant brunfelsia is under the canopy of tall conifers that give it enough room to reach its mature height.


The soil should be moist, acidic, and fertile, with a high amount of organic matter and good drainage.


Whether you grow brunfelsia outdoors or in containers, the soil must be consistently moist but never soggy. Water as needed and never let the soil dry out.

Potted plants need daily checking, especially during the summer. In the winter, the indoor plants will go dormant and take up less water, so you need to reduce the watering accordingly.

Temperature and Humidity

Because brunfelsia is a tropical plant, it thrives in a humid environment.


Before adding fertilizer to an outdoor brunfelsia, test the pH of the soil around the plant. If your soil is not acidic enough, apply liquid fertilizer for acid-loving plants but use about half of the strength indicated on the fertilizer label—every two weeks. If the soil is in the correct pH range, below 6, adding an acidic mulch such as peat moss or pine needles benefits the plant. This can help prevent the leaves from yellowing.

Container plants have higher fertilizer needs, so feed them every one to two weeks during the growing season, stop fertilizing them during the winter, and restart in the early spring.

Types of Brunfelsia Pauciflora

  • Brunfelsia pauciflora 'Floribunda': Profuse bloomer with deep violet, then light violet, and eventually white flowers
  • Brunfelsia pauciflora 'Compacta': Dwarf cultivar; doesn't grow taller than five to six feet
  • Brunfelsia undulata' White Caps': Erect bushy shrub grown for its twice-yearly display of creamy white flowers
  • Brunfelsia australis: Also called Jasmine of Paraguay; tubular 1.5-inch flowers with five petals, broad leaves; highly aromatic
  • Brunfelsia grandiflora: Requires more sun than Brunfelsia australis to bloom; also called chiricaspi,


Brunfelsia is a slow grower, and pruning is not essential. However, to encourage bushiness and give the mounded shrub a neater appearance, remove all the spent flowers and give the plant an overall light trim after the spring bloom.

When grown in containers, pruning is critical to keeping the plant manageable. Wait until it is blooming, then cut back all the stems by about half.

Propagating Brunfelsia Pauciflora

Propagate brunfelsia in the summer from semi-hardwood 8-inch healthy cuttings. It can also be grown with seeds. Here's how to propagate by cuttings.

  1. You'll need sterilized pruning shears to take the cutting, a small clean pot of fresh moistened potting soil, a clear plastic bag, a long pencil or a chopstick, and rooting hormone (optional).
  2. Remove all the leaves except the top two from the stem cutting.
  3. If using rooting hormone, dip the cut end into the hormone.
  4. Plant the cut end into the soil, at least three inches deep.
  5. The plastic bag will act as a greenhouse for the cutting, cover the cutting, but use the chopstick or pencil as a stand to prop up the bag, so it does not rest against the cutting.
  6. Put the plant in a warm spot that receives filtered light.
  7. The plant should develop roots within four to six weeks. Check for rooting by tugging gently on the cutting. If you get resistance, roots are forming. Remove the bag.

How to Grow Brunfelsia Pauciflora From Seed

Brunfelsia can be grown with seeds. Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before sowing for quicker germination. Sow the seeds in a peat soil mix, planted about 1/4 inch deep. Place the plant in a warm, bright spot at least 70 to 75 F. The seeds should germinate within one to four months.

Potting and Repotting Brunfelsia Pauciflora

When grown in containers, the yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plant requires regular repotting. In the spring, inspect the root system to see if it fills the pot and plant it in a larger pot with fresh potting mix.


If you bring the plant indoors for the winter, ensure it gets three to four hours of sunlight daily. You can increase the humidity by placing the plants on water-filled trays with pebbles.

Common Pests & Diseases

Aphids can weaken the plant by sucking its sap. Similarly, spider mites can suck the plant's nutrients from the plant's leaves. Unless there is a heavy infestation, they can be removed by gently washing them off with water. Heavier infestations require insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Brunfelsia is deer-resistant.

How to Get Brunfelsia Pauciflora to Bloom

Brunfelsia pauciflora should be a reliable bloomer with sufficient light, water, soil, and temperatures. It usually blooms in the spring and fall and may rebloom anytime, especially after pruning following a bloom cycle. Deadhead faded flowers to encourage reblooming.

It may not bloom or have very few flowers if it's getting the wrong fertilizer. Instead, try a phosphorus-rich fertilizer to encourage blooms. If it's getting too much nitrogen, it may spur the plant to grow abundant foliage, putting its energy into leaves.

Common Problems With Brunfelsia Pauciflora

Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plants are easy to care for with relatively very few problems. However, if conditions are not correct, that can cause some issues.

Pale or Yellowing Leaves

Soil issues can hurt growth, such as if acidity levels are off or there's a lack of nutrients. If the soil is not acidic enough or the plant is not getting enough nitrogen, it can cause pale yellow leaves throughout the plant.

If you notice pale yellow patches on older leaves, that can signify a magnesium shortage. It can be an iron deficiency if you see yellowing leaf veins, especially on younger leaf tips. If the youngest leaves turn entirely yellow, it's potentially a sulfur deficit. If the older leaf edges turn bright yellow and then brown, but the inner part of the leaf remains green, it could be a sign of a potassium deficiency.

To remedy the problem, check the pH of the soil. Then, get your plant on a regular fertilizer routine with plant food for acid-loving plants. Plants in the ground need fertilizer every two weeks. Container plants may require feeding every one to two weeks.

Poor, Stunted Growth

Look closely at your plants and inspect for signs of insect activity. When aphids colonize a plant, they multiply intensely and suck the plant sap, draining the life out of plants. Similarly, spider mites also suck plant nutrients from the leaves. A tell-tale sign of mites is webbing under the leaves. Both types of insects can be hosed away with a steady stream of water, or you can treat the leaves and stems with insecticidal soap.

Soil Appears Chalky

If your plant appears to have chalky soil with a powdery residue on the top layer of the soil, it likely needs an iron supplement. Left untreated, it can cause the leaves to lose color and turn white. Use a commercial iron sulfate solution from a garden store or your plant supplier, and follow the container's instructions. Check the acidity of the soil level before and after application, keeping within a 5.0 to 6.0 pH range.

  • Where did the name yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plant come from?

    The plant gets its name for its changing flower colors: dark purple on the first day, light purple the next, and white on the third day.

  • Can Brunfelsia pauciflora grow in shade?

    This plant grows well in full sun but will need partial shade to protect it during high heat and intensely sunny days. Full shade is not recommended; it will affect blooming.

  • When should you prune Brunfelsia pauciflora?

    Pruning is not necessary with Brunfelsia pauciflora, but to encourage bushier growth or discourage overgrowth or spreading, trim plants after they bloom in the spring.

Article Sources
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