Cathedral Bells (Cobaea)

The cathedral bell vine grows vigorously and can quickly create dense, high foliage walls; therefore a good choice for balcony greening, for columns, poles and walls. This robust climbing plant is also popular for facade greening, but more frequently in a place where the flowers can be admired up close, in the garden or as a street greening.

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

Cobaea scandens with flowers in various development phases
Cobaea scandens with flowers in various phases of development

To thrive...

The cathedral bell likes warm and sunny locations. In partial or full shade it will have fewer leaves and flowers. Unfortunately, we only have photos of them planted in less sunny locations to show for now. A nutritious, well-drained soil with sufficient water supply and water storage (especially on hotter days) is ideal. Available as potted plants from May onwards.

Characteristics and Pruning

Native to Mexico and Costa Rica, Cobaea scandens was introduced to Europe in 1789 (Botanical Garden Madrid) and spread quickly. An annual in Europe, it develops tiny branched tendrils at the tips of the pinnate (feather-like) leaves that quickly cling to irregularities, much like the leaf-stem tendrils (petiole climbers). On rough surfaces it can even be self-climbing. Plant middle or end of May with a planting distance of 45 - 60 cm, and with optimal soil even up to 1.5 metres. Cathedral bells can grow up to 8 m high. Flowers are greenish first before turning white and purple / violet. Flowering time July - October. The leaves of the white-flowering variety ("Albiflora") are a lighter green. "Variegata" blooms purple, but has white leaf edges. Cutting the tips of the shoots encourages branching and thus the number of flowers. For seed cultivation: pollinate the first flowers of the year with a brush after nightfall; pollinate a second time when the flowers start to tilt downwards and point to the ground.

Climbing Aids for the Facade

Choose a close-meshed trellis with 25 - 35 cm meshes (squares), with vertical rope axes being dominant. See the bottom of the page for a list of compatible trellis forms. The wire rope trellis 5050 is a good choice; it can be combined with metal rods if desired. Easy (basic and basic-s), light, or medium cable trellis systems are fitting.


Cable Systems?

Click on the image to see which cable trellis systems are compatible with cathedral bells.

Suitable Wire Rope Trellises for Cobaea scandens

Please click on the graphic illustrations for details!

  = suitable            = of limited suitability            = unsuitable