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Cathedral Bells (Cobaea)

The cathedral bell vine is vigorously growing and can quickly create dense, high foliage walls; it is a good choice for balcony greening, for columns, poles and walls. This robust climbing plant is also popular for façade greening, but more frequently in a place where the flowers can be admired from up close, as with 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 development phases

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 less sunny positions 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

Cobaea scandens originates from Mexico and Costa Rica and was introduced in Europe in 1789 (Botanical Garden Madrid) before quickly spreading. An annual in Europe, it develops tiny branched tendrils at the tips of the pinnate (feather-like) leaves similar that quickly cling to irregularities, much like the leaf-stem tendrils (petiole climbers). On rough surfaces it might even be self-climbing. Planting is done in the middle or end of May with a planting distance of 45 - 60cm, with optimal soil even up to 1.5 metres. Cathedral bells can grow up to 8m high. Flowers are greenish first before turning white and purple or 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/cultivation: pollinate the first flowers of the year with a brush after nightfall and re-fertilise and/or pollinate them the second time at the stage of the outgoing flower (when the flowers begin to tilt downwards and point to the ground).

Climbing Aids for the Facade

Choose a close-meshed trellis of 25 - 35cm meshes (squares), with vertical rope axes being dominant. See the bottom of the page for a list of suitable designs. The wire 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 designs are fitting.


Cable Systems?

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

Cobaea scandens on a trellis rope
Self-climbing Cobaea scandens on a house wall
Cathedral bells as a street greening
Cobaea scandens, high growing climbing vine
Wall greening with 'cup-and-saucer' (cathedral bell) vine
Cathedrall bells on a shop entrance

Suitable Wire Rope Trellises for Cobaea scandens (Cathedral Bell Vine)

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

  = suitable          = sometimes suitable        = not suitable