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Cathedral Bells (Cobaea)

The cathedral bell vine is very vigorous and can quickly create dense, high foliage walls, it is a good choce for balcony greening, for columns, poles and walls. The robust climbing plant is also often used for façade greening, but more frequently in a place where the flowers can be admired from up close and less often as with street greening.

Cathedral Bells / Cup-and-saucer Vine / Monastery Bells, latin: cobaea scandens

Cobaea scandens with flowers in various development phases

Requirements / Provenance

Cobaea scandens likes warm and sunny location. In partial or full shade it will have less leaves and flowers. Unfortunately we only have photos of less sunny positions to show for now... A nutritious, permeable soil with sufficient water supply and storage (especially on hotter days) is ideal. Available as potted plants in May.

Caracteristics and Pruning

Cobaea scandens originates from Mexico and Costa Rica and was introduced in Europe in 1789 (Botanical Garden Madrid) before spreading quickly. They are annuals in Europe. They develop tiny, branched tendrils similar to leaf-stem tendrils at the ends of the feathered leaves to cling to things. On rough surfaces it might even be self-climbing. The planting is done in the middle or end of May with a planting distance of 45 - 60 cm, with optimal soil even up to 1.5 m. Cobaea scandens can grow up to 8 meters in height. Flowers are greenish first, then white and purple to violet. Flowering time is July to October. There is a white-flowering cathedral bell: "Albiflora", with lighter leaves. "Variegata" blooms purple, but has white leaf edges. Cutting the tips of the shoots promotes branching and the number of flowers. Flowering time is July to October. For seed breeding: Pollinate the first flowers of the year with a brush during the night and re-fertilise or pollinate them at the stage of the outgoing flower (flowers begin to tilt downwards).

Growing aids on facades

Choose a close-meshed trellis with 25 - 35 cm squares, and favour vertical lines. Look at the bottom of the page for al list of suitable designs. The wire trellis 5050 is a good choice, combine it with also with metal rods if you want. Simple ("Basic" and "Basic-S") or Light designs are good, as are the Medium trellises.

Cable systems?

Click on the image to see wich designs are adapted as a growing aid for mandevillas.

Cobaea scandens on a rope
Cobaea scandens as a self-climbing plant on a house wall
Cathedral bells cobea scandens as street greening
Cobaea scandens, twining vine
Wall greening with cup-and-saucer vine
Cathedrall bells next to a shop entrance

Suitable wire rope trellises for cobaea scandens

Please click on the graphics to see a detailed view of each design!

  = suitable          = sometimes suitable        = not suitable