My tororo-aoi plants have started blooming.
So far, only the transplanted plants are big enough to bloom; the direct-seeded ones are just getting to the point of thinking about producing flower buds, and the plants from the seeds from AliExpress are still only 2 or 3cm tall.
The flowers only last a day so you have to check frequently to get a picture. After that they close again, and fall off as the seed pod grows out. The seed pods look like the pods of okra, a closely-related plant.
The flowers and pods are not essential to the production of neri, but they look nice in the front garden. The bed on the other side of the front door has a stand of sunflowers, which grew from a combination of bird seed and seeds dropped from last year’s sunflowers. Beneath them is a thin stand of rose of Sharon seedlings.
Speaking of rose of Sharon (another more distant relative of tororo-aoi but still in the mallow family), mine are now in bloom:
They have quite a few more blooms now, a few days after taking the photos, but they’re already past their peak. Being in the mallow family, the sap of these shrubs is also slimy and could be used as formation aid, but because the plant is woody (both stems and roots), extracting any substantial amount of sap would be difficult. Perhaps I should try picking the seed pods before they dry out and seeing if they can supply some slime.