Columnea 13°C/55°F; Tropical South America

As hanging basket and hanging pot plant subjects become more and more popular it surely cannot be long before much more attention is given to these superb natural trailing plants. They are not especially easy to grow, but given that extra bit of care, the rewards can be quite spectacular. Adequate and steady temperature is absolutely essential, as is the need for moist and shaded conditions. Given these, then ensure that plants are potted or planted into an open peaty mixture – working in a little charcoal (to prevent the mixture turning sour) and fresh sphagnum moss. There are a number of sorts that may be obtained, and one of the best is still the old favourite, C. x banksii, which has rich dark green foliage and brilliant orange flowers. There is also C. repens which has smaller leaves that are a lighter shade of green and hangs straight down from the container in which it is growing. The latter flowers very freely and is a most impressive plant when properly cared for. To encourage flower production it is advisable to keep the mixture on the dry side for several weeks prior to the plant’s natural flowering time. New plants are raised from small cuttings, but preferably not from growth that is bearing flowers.

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