Bleeding Heart Vine – Clerodendrum thomsoniae

Bleeding Heart Vine or Glory Bower, a well-known and popular climbing shrub, is a versatile addition to your house plant collection.

Native to the tropical regions of West Africa, it is the most popular species of a group of over 400 vines, shrubs and trees.

It has woody twining stems and large broad and oblong leaves. The rich green of the leaves is emphasized by a prominent vein patterning.

Flowers and flowering Bleeding Heart Vine flowers from early spring through to the autumn. Ina warm greenhouse, sun room or conservatory this period can be extended so that it flowers virtually all year. The small crimson flowers are carried in drooping clusters at the end of each shoot. The tubular necks of the flowers are surrounded by gleaming white sepals which form the calyx—this protects the delicate growing points of the flower when it is in the bud stage. The red and white of the flower make a strong contrast to the dark green of the leaves.Bleeding Heart Vine - Clerodendrum thomsoniae

Each flower lasts only a short while, but the white balloon-like calyces (the protective sepals) remain on the plant until the autumn. As they age they gradually become pink. The flower of the Bleeding Heart Vine has no fragrance at all.

This plant can grow to 4m (13ft) if planted in a bed or border of a greenhouse, sunroom or conservatory. In a pot it will not usually grow beyond 1.5m (5ft). By pinching out the tips of stems you can train this climber into a bushier, more compact shape.

Colours and varieties

Clerodendrum thomsonioe ‘Delectum’ bears large clusters of rose-magenta flowers. Clerodendrum phillipinum, the fragrant glorybush, is beautifully scented. It is shrub-like in form and grows to about 2m(6½ft). Its large flower clusters are white or pink and hydrangea-like.

C. speciosissimum is a slow-growing species which can reach 1.2m(4ft). It bears clusters of tubular flowers in summer.

Display

This evergreen climbing plant will clothe and decorate the wall, trellis or other support that it grows against. In a sunroom or conservatory it makes a splendid backdrop. For a formal look, grow this plant in a large white wooden conservatory box.

Propagation

1. Take 8-10cm (3– 4in) cuttings from the base of side shoots. Remove the lower leaves before planting up. Use a well-drained potting mixture of equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or Perlite.

2. Cover with polythene or use an electric propagator with a bottom heat of 21°C (70°F). Keep in a well-lit position where a temperature of 21°C (70°F) can be maintained. Keep potting mixture moist.

3. Rooting should take place after 4-6 weeks. Pot into larger pots in a standard soil-based potting mixture.

4. Encourage a bushy shape by pinching out the tips of the stems. When the new plants look well-established and compact, repot into a pot one size larger. Water regularly and during the growing season apply a standard liquid fertilizer.

Pests And Diseases

Emealy bugs indicated by white tufts on stem and leaves.

Treatment: Remove them using a cotton wool swab dipped in diluted methylated spirits or spray with a suitable insecticide.

Silky webbing due to red spider mites.

Treatment: The humidity level is too low. Spray the plant daily to keep humidity level high. If the attack is severe cut away badly affected parts of the plant and spray remaining parts with an insecticide.

Discoloured patches on some of the leaves are due to scorching.

Prevention: Move the plant out of the sun into the shade.

PLANT CARE

For a good bushy shape prune back the side shoots to 2-3 leaf pairs when flowering is over or in late winter.

  • Potting: This plant needs plenty of room for its roots and should be repotted in late winter just before the flowering season begins. Use a well-drained peat-based potting mixture.
  • Water regularly, in summer twice a week. Reduce watering towards the end of summer. In winter the plant will need watering about twice a month.
  • Feeding: Apply a standard liquid fertilizer every second week. If the leaves become pale apply a foliar feed. In winter stop feeding.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: It needs plenty of light, but this should be filtered. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight.
  • Temperature: High temperatures in summer 18-24°C (65-75°F) will suit it best, but remember that it needs high humidity as well. In winter temperatures of 13-15°C (55-60°F) should be maintained.

Buying Tips

  • Buy young plants in spring or summer. You will find them at most garden centres and nurseries throughout their flowering period.
  • The foliage should be fresh and green. Avoid plants with discoloured leaves and signs of insect attack. Choose a plant with plenty of buds and a compact shape.
  • It will last for many years, and flower each year, provided it has high humidity, warmth and filtered light.

The evergreen leaves of the Bleeding Heart Vine will give you year-round beauty. With a little care and attention, this plant will flower freely, producing dramatic and colourful blooms.

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