Patio climbers

Posted: Monday 22 February 2010
by Adam Pasco

Last summer I discovered a twining, tender climber called Lophospermum, or lofos. I bought two varieties, 'Burgundy Falls' and 'Summer Cream', as plug plants from a mail-order seed company.

Pink and cream lophospermum flowersLast summer I discovered a twining, tender climber called Lophospermum, or lofos. I bought two varieties, 'Burgundy Falls' and 'Summer Cream' (both pictured left), as plug plants from a mail-order seed company. 

I grew my lofos under cover, in 7.5-10cm pots, until late May, then placed them on my patio in a large terracotta pot, using a peat-free, multi-purpose compost.

To support the climbing stems I used silver birch stems saved from winter pruning, pushing them down into the pot to create a wigwam. New shoots caught onto the supports, twining their way to the top, and as summer progressed a succession of trumpet-shaped flowers opened on each. Although they weren't as floriferous as some bedding plants they certainly were different.

Of course, what goes up also hangs down! Lofos is equally at home in hanging baskets where it can simply be left to trail. Some stems may catch onto the chains to spiral upwards but most will just hang over the sides of the basket, perhaps reaching a length of 2-3m during the summer.

I still love patio favourites like petunia, verbena, pelargonium and fuchsia, but am always on the lookout for something new. New Guinea impatiens have become a favourite for shade, and I always choose a selection of foliage varieties of coleus, ipomoea and others. Last summer, in addition to lofos I tried Ptilotus 'Joey' last year, a new drought tolerant variety from Australia producing short well-branched plants carrying fluffy pink plumes at the end of each shoot. It was fun, and certainly different.

So what new plants shall I try for summer 2010? Well, I think I'll experiment with lantana. Several new varieties of this conservatory favourite are available, and as I've never grown it before I'll be interested to see how it performs in the months ahead.

As always, the problem is predicting what weather our summer will bring. Dry, wet, warm, scorching, dull - who knows? So by growing a range of patio plants that relish different conditions I'm hoping at least some of them will thrive.

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Gardeners' World Web User 22/02/2010 at 19:18

I would also recommend Adlumia Fungosa as a patio climber. Very pretty and not invasive. Also, on the endangered species list for many US states.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/02/2010 at 08:36

I also grew lofos from a seed catalogue up a pergola. It took a little while to get going and when it did, looked lovely. I have left it in the ground and am waiting to see what will come of them in the spring. As you mentioned that they are tender, I doubt they will have survived. Back to the catalogue.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/02/2010 at 15:29

I'm struggling to find the answer to the RHS question. Can anyone suggest 10 plants that are noted for NEEDING shelter. Ideally not ornamental. Thanks SMB

Gardeners' World Web User 26/02/2010 at 21:27

can you tell me where i can buy the lofos as plug plants? many thanks

Gardeners' World Web User 27/02/2010 at 13:50

i am trying to find out whereto buy the spraycraversthat keeps pidgeons rabbits ect from eating my cabbage plants recomended in the sun paper. thanks al.

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