Lofty Lofos

A friend kindly gave me a tiny self-sown plant in August and told me to ‘have a go’ with it, which usually means it is going to be difficult. Not this one! Lofos, or more accurately Lophospermum erubescens (meaning reddening or blushing), was formerly called Asarina and, confusingly, is sometimes  also called Maurandia erubescens.

Creeping Gloxina #2

Creeping Gloxina

It has the common names of either Climbing Foxglove, Creeping Gloxinia or Twining Snapdragon depending on which part of the world you come from. Originating from Mexico, but now also common across the Mediterranean, it is a beautiful climber with felty heart shaped leaves and mid-pink flowers like foxgloves, which appear from July to October. I believe this is the species form but there are creamy white and dark red cultivars too which may be hybrids. I have read that they work well in hanging baskets as they fall as well as climb.       I have been amazed at it’s rate of growth. From a nondescript 9cm pot plant it has shot up to the top of a 5′ cane in just a few weeks and two flowers opened today! I can’t believe it will keep up this phenomenal growth much longer and with the nights drawing in and getting colder it will surely stop soon.

Species: Asarina erubenscens Family: Scrophula...

Species: Asarina erubenscens Family: Scrophulariaceae Image No. 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In summer, this vine will climb to about 10′ using its leaf stems to attach, and does well in full sun or part shade. It needs a moist soil though, so it mustn’t dry out.  It is a half hardy perennial and apparently forms a tuber, which can be dried off and stored over winter, but judging from the number of self-sown seedlings in my friend’s greenhouse, it is also very easy from seed!  It should be happy to grow as a houseplant over the winter if you have the room, or in a heated conservatory. I haven’t got either so it will have to take it’s chances in the greenhouse cuddled up to the cannas and dahlias!

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8 thoughts on “Lofty Lofos

  1. I have never heard of this plant but it looks worth a go. I am forever struggling with sweet peas so this might be a good alternative to try.

    • Hi Helen. My friend has it growing up an obelisk and it was smothered with flowers all summer. Try Rhodochiton as well, easy from seed and flowers for months.
      I have some Sweet Pea seed that never fails! It is a Grandiflora variety which I have been growing for 10 years. Would you like some? I would be pleased to send you some to try. If you sow it when the clocks go back and plant it out when the clocks go forward I guarantee good results! If you want to try Rhodochiton, I can send you some seed either fresh from this year when it has ripened in a few weeks time or some of last years which will still be viable. Sow it at 20° in a propagator in March and it will be up in a week. Email me at davidsi@talk21.com
      Kind regards
      David
      P.S. Thanks for being my Blotanical mentor as well!

  2. I have been trying to buy some seeds with no joy, please send some to Terry Donovan
    16 Gwaun Coed
    Brackla
    Bridgend
    Mid glamorgan
    CF31 2HS

  3. Hi, I had a question (if it ‘s not too late), about your Asarina erubenscens. I was trying to see what the of training-netting-bamboo sticks that you use. I’d like to grow it more on the taller side if possible.
    Thank You so much & I hope your having a great growing season thus far!

    *Darby Smith

    • Hi Darby
      The Lophospermum/Asarina/climbing foxglove (take your pick!) curls its leave stalks tightly around the support and hauls itself up that way. Last year, mine managed about 3 metres (10 feet) up a tripod of wires in a 40cm pot. It was in a windy position but hung on no problem. It was literally covered in pink flowers from top to bottom all summer and into autumn. It just didn’t want to stop. The good news is that the tuber overwintered in its pot in the greenhouse and sprouted shoots in February. It is already in position and is about 30 cm high and ready to climb.
      Good luck and I hope you will come back to my blog another day. I will post a picture of ‘Lofty Lofos’ again later this year.
      Kind regards
      David

  4. Hi, I would like to know which country you are in(re growing conditions of Lofos, I live in southwestern australia and have just bought two plants would like to know if best in ground or in pot/Basket
    christa

    • Hi Christa.
      Lophospermum arborescens is a twining climber which works really well in a pot because it doesn’t have a big root system. It needs plenty of water and feeds every two weeks in the growing season but is pretty easy. It will do best in a well drained nutritious soil but needs canes or wires to twine around up to approx 2.2m high. Flowers are prolific and beautiful like foxgloves without the spots!
      Hope this was helpful.
      Good luck and thanks for contacting me.
      David

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