Lapageria: Greenhouse Plants
FF – frost free only / C – cool, minimum of 7°C (45°F)
You will soon find out that Lapageria rosea, the Chilean Bell Flower, dislikes lime if you unknowingly pot it into ordinary; growth begins to turn brown and new shoots shrivel. A quick move into a lime-free mixture will soon set it right. These wonderful plants, with long-lasting waxy bell-shaped flowers produced almost all year round, can be grown in pots but are much better in a bed with a trellis for them to climb. They like cool shaded conditions during summer and must never be allowed to dry out at the roots. The species has deep pink flowers and there is a white form. Hybrids between the pink and white give us a choice of pale pink, creamy-white, salmon, bicolours and doubles. Propagation by is a slow process but not impossible. I have found they are more likely to root outside a propagating case than in it; the main problem is finding good shoot material to make the cuttings from. Semi ripe stems in June are preferable. Plants can also be layered, pegging shoots down into pots or trays of compost. The time to sow seed is whenever they are ripe, squeezing them straight from the pod on to the compost and covering them lightly. Any delay will reduce the chance of germination which will be very good if they are fresh and best at temperatures of 15-18°C (60-65°F). The worst pests are aphids which attack fresh young growth. Fortunately, these are easily controlled although take care as some chemicals will damage young shoots. Mealy bug can be a problem.