Today we would like to talk about a plant, in this case climbing, with a stunning delicacy and flowers with a variety of colors, although the most common is the one you have in the photo, pink. Copihue ( Lapageria rosea). This climber is, since 1977, the national flower of Chileans, basically because it is endemic to that country. Let’s get to know it a little more and see how we can cultivate it.
ORIGIN OF LAPAGERIA ROSEA
Lapageria rosea belongs to the Liliales, and the genus has nothing to do with any botanical or characteristic aspect of the plant as happened the other day when we were talking about the Orbea variegata and the etymological origin of the Orbea genus . In this case, the name Lapageria, plain and simple, was christened in honor of Napoleon’s wife, whose maiden name was Tascher de la Pagerie. Now the Lapageria thing is perfectly understandable . Being endemic to Chile , as we say in the header, it was decided in 1977 that it would be the flower that would represent the country . A symbol that can now be in your garden if you wish.
ITS ADAPTATION TO EUROPE
Over the years, it has been able to sustain and adapt to European climates that are not very severe, either due to cold or heat. It is a somewhat delicate plant, beautiful yes, but later we will see that it is not one of the «easy to grow». Lapageria rosea was cataloged at the beginning of the 19th century and it was not until the middle of the same century, when it began to be cultivated in various European countries.
From that moment on, commercial hybrids have been happening over the years both in Chile and in Europe, especially in England , which is where their European journey began. Today we have cultivars of all kinds that vary from the purest white to the most intense red you can imagine, going through raw, pinkish colors and even some with spots like those in the main photo of this post.
LAPAGERIA ROSEA AND ITS DOUBLE INTEREST: THE FLOWERS AND THE FRUIT
We have to say that flowering is made to be prayed for. It is impressive, but it is to be expected. They can take up to ten years to flower from seed. There is no need to be frightened. This is the maximum. In theory, from 3 to 5 years we can enjoy its flowers . Flowers, as can be seen, have a very high ornamental value and for this reason it has won numerous awards worldwide. In the photos there is no order of magnitude of the size of the flower but they can easily reach 10-12 cm .
In addition to the flower, the Copihue (its common name), has an elongated fruit, pointed at the base, with a sweet pulp and many seeds inside, it is totally edible. So, in addition to giving us flowers, it gives us the possibility of a sweet fruit.
If you are attracted by its large and flared flowers of bright color and you would like to cover a wall, pergola or fence with this climbing plant, we will tell you some things you should know about growing Lapageria rosea. We warn you: it is not the easy one and it needs mild temperatures and a sunny, warm but not burning place, among other things. Ornamental value comes at a high price.
LAPAGERIA ROSEA GROWING CONDITIONS
TEMPERATURES AND EXPOSURE
You need mild temperatures. It does not support cold or heat and they do not have to be extreme especially. In Spain, due to the great variety of climates, it is possible to grow it depending on where. In winter, in full moment of rest, it can withstand up to -5ºC although with slight damage, which we will have to fix with a very gentle pruning in the spring. You need a warm environment like a south-facing wall, for example, that receives and stores heat from the sun as well as supporting the plant. We can think of mild climates, free of frost and humid, like those of the coastal areas of the Cantabrian Sea .
SUBSTRATE AND SUBSCRIBER
If it is a very sensitive plant with the climate , with the soil it is not exempt from specific conditions. To start you need an acid soil . The limestones are their undoing. If we start from a very limestone soil, it is almost better to forget about its cultivation and see it in photos, since the modification of the pH conditions will not be easy and it may not be worth it. If we start from a neutral ground, this task seems a little less complicated. A good amount of peat moss , for example, can be a good start for establishing the foundation of an acidic soil.
If you want to know how to modify the pH conditions of a soil, check out this pH article.
Apart from the pH, we will also need a soil with very good moisture retention and very fertile, with a high content of available organic matter. To maintain this level of fertility, it is recommended to add good quality mulch twice a year . One in the fall and one in the spring. A very suitable compost to also maintain the pH in optimal conditions, can be one that contains pine needles or conifers in general, whose acidity will not hurt. If you want, you can also add some fertilizer for plants or flower shrubs.
IRRIGATION AND HUMIDITY
In the summer months (full bloom) you have to be very aware of the humidity of the soil. Maintain a good moisture content, do not let it dry at any time, avoiding in turn waterlogging that would ruin the plant.
If the environment is dry, it also suffers and it does not hurt water sprays (not limestone) that can hold the flowers a little longer. We have to be very sure that the water is not limestone.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS OF LAPAGERIA ROSEA
- It is not a plant with much vigor and pruning is not something that stands out in the care of the plant. If it is good, it can always be directed and pruned lightly to take it where we want as well as to fix it a bit. Of course, no severe pruning.
- As for diseases, it can be attacked in spring and summer by aphids and mealybugs mainly.
- The mode of propagation is usually layering or seed . For the seed you have to take a couple of things into account. They must be fresh and with a gelatinous layer that covers them. This gelatin contains germination inhibitors that we must wash thoroughly to proceed with sowing. Germination of Lapageria rosea occurs at approximately 20ºC and is slow (3 months approx.).
- It has to be routed with wire to a wall for example to help it establish itself.
VARIETIES OF LAPAGERIA ROSEA
As we have mentioned before, Chilean or English hybrids are various. The Albiflora variety (white flowers) or Beatrice Anderson (bright red flowers with spots) stand out. In roses we have the Flesh Pink for example.
|Color||Name and characteristics|
- Beatrix Anderson . Flowers with many white spots on the outside; grown from wild seeds.
- Nash Court . Large flowers; dates back to 1884.
- Penheale . Flowers with much more lanceolate foliage than other varieties.
- Flesh Pink . Pale-hued flowers; grown from the seeds of a white wild variety.
- Wisley Picotee or Picotee . From the garden of the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley; it is actually the Collingue variety .
- Wisley Spotted . From the garden of the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley; actually, it is the Nahuelbuta variety .
|Color||Name and characteristics|
- Caupolican . Very large flowers of intense color.
- Colcopiú . Flowers with some white spots.
- Contulmo . Flowers of a very intense and dark blood color or light burgundy with few spots.
- Malleco . Large flowers of intense color, with large, shiny leaves.
- Quelipichún . Flowers with up to nine petals.
- Cheuquecura . Large flowers with a soft hue.
- Hummingbird . Medium and thick flowers of pale tone.
- The Orchard . Flowers of a soft flesh pink color.
- Ongol . Very large pale pinkish-orange flowers.
- Purén . Intense colorful flowers.
- Rayén . Large, thick flowers with a soft hue.
- Alcapán . Large, more open flowers with thick petals.
- Cobquecura . Salmon or peach stained flowers.
- Colipán . Flowers with the edges of the petals mottled with small blue spots.
- Collingue . Flowers somewhat small mottled red, with petals edged with red and purple.
- Ligtromu . Flowers with quite curly petals.
- Nahuelbuta . Flowers with the inner petals mottled with violet, with somewhat curly leaves.
- Raimilla . Creamy white or ivory flowers.
- Relmutral . Large flowers with red edges, especially on the sepals.
- Toqui . Large elongated flowers.