A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Plant of the Week: Canarina canariensis (Canary Island Bellflower)

Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.

Native to pockets of cloud forest in the mountains of the Canary Islands, this climbing vine, shown here in the foreground of this first shot, is programmed to do all of its growing and blooming in the cool, moist, winter months.the-plant

The annual growth dies back in spring to a tuberous root system and the plant remains completely dormant through the hot and desert-like Canary Island summers.

Gardeners have to be aware of this growth cycle. Watering the plant during the summer months must be avoided, because any wetness can cause the roots to rot, but once growth starts again in late autumn, water is essential.

The yellowy-orange flowers appear in mid to late winter and have the familiar, bell-like shape of most of the members of the bellflower family (Campanulaceae). The petals are translucent and delicately traced with darker-orange veins.close-up

Our specimen is on display in the Palm House, where it holds its own against the equally orange, and spectacular, flame vine (Pyrostegia venusta), covering the wall above and to the right in this last shot.the-setting

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