Gold Mound Duranta: ArtisTree Plantopinions experts share the good, bad and ugly

Gold Mound Duranta

“We were told by a local landscaper in Sarasota that Gold Mound Duranta was a hardy shrub, but in just two years ours started losing leaves and finally died. Very disappointed as we loved the bright color. Please advise.” — Thanks, T. N.

ArtisTree is sorry to hear you had this experience, but honestly, we’re not surprised. We love Gold Mound Duranta for the way it immediately perks up any landscape it’s added to. But oh, those nematodes. You really have to watch out for them and weigh the risk you’re willing to take. Here’s a drill-down from our Plantopinions experts.

Gold Mound Duranta shrubs add instant lemon-lime pop to this Sarasota landscape. Too bad they may also attract nematodes.

Joe Mantkowski, VP of Landscape Design

I loved this plant for several years.  Was a staple in our palette as a border/mid-tier planting with a showy, chartreuse tone that “popped” in a landscape. It also accentuated anything else around it. The only gamble for many years has been its susceptibility to cold damage. But more recently, there have been problems with root-knot nematodes. They are worms that eat up the root system, causing this plant to appear woody and sparse. It’s at times hard to combat, so I use them very judiciously.

Clinton Lak, ArtisTree Landscape Designer

Unfortunately, this eye-catching plant does have some problems. I used to specify it for borders and low hedges because its bright leaves contrasted well with other green foliage. But nematodes like to feed on their roots which causes leaf drop and thinning. This isn’t always the case, as some homeowners still have good success with them. But I stay away from them. They also grow extremely rapidly and have thorns which make them challenging to maintain. They’re cold-sensitive, too, and will defoliate in a frost.

Chris Culp, Landscape Designer

Let’s start with the upsides. Gold Mound Duranta has a nice lemon-lime color, contrasts great with dark colors, and looks fantastic in filtered sun. It’s also an evergreen. But on the downside, the leaves will sometimes turn black in a cold snap. Older ones may thin out and create a hollow hedge look. Plus, they’re susceptible to nematodes, which are even more attracted to Gold Mound that’s planted in sandier soils. In some cases, I’ve recommended Aboricola Trinette as a nice bright-colored option.

Gold Mound Duranta
The owners of this Lakewood Ranch home insisted on Gold Mound Duranta for its bright florescent color.

Brian Clouser, Landscape Designer

I used to like it and used it a bunch when I started designing in Florida. Now I use it very sparingly. It can be kept nice at a 2-3’ height and is a great, bright color layer. That said, root-knot nematodes can affect the plant’s roots. The damage usually shows up after a year or more. The plant will then start to thin and eventually die off. Many times only one or two plants are affected in a group of mature plants. This is the only reason I’m not overly fond of the plant. ‘Sunshine’ Ligustrum is almost an exact lookalike but it’s become hard to find and has a premium price.

Gold Mound Duranta
Gold Mound Duranta in nursery pots.

Elisabeth Owen, Landscape Designer

For me, this plant gets low marks. On the positive side, it’s an evergreen shrub can be used as a dwarf to place in front of a taller shrub or smaller palm. It also pops with color 24/7, 365. However, in commercially maintained landscapes and most maintenance-free communities, this plant is often not properly trimmed. As a result, sun can’t penetrate through the canopy very well. “Sticks” will start showing underneath — very unattractive and implying an unhealthy plant. Also, foliage will turn black in cold weather and remain that way until temps warm up, causing homeowners to think the plant is sick. Finally, this plant can succumb to nematodes. Not always, but that’s a risk you should consider.

Gold Mound Duranta
Gold Mound Duranta infected by nematodes. Note surrounding plant material is healthy. Photo: IFAS Extension Service
ArtisTree Plantopinions
Left to right: Joe Mantkowski, Clinton Lak, Chris Culp, Brian Clouser, Elisabeth Owen

ArtisTree “Plantopinions” is a roundtable debate between multiple ArtisTree experts on the virtues of various plant specimens. Sometimes there’s consensus and sometimes not. In the end, you are the judge!

ArtisTree Landscape Designers

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ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design has proudly served Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties since 1990.


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ArtisTree also provides complete landscape maintenance services for HOA communities throughout Southwest Florida. Contact Michael Casper at 941.488.8897 for your custom maintenance proposal. Our services include irrigation/water management, turf/ornamental maintenance, mulching and seasonal color.  

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