Cup-and-Saucer Vine Delights

Imagine pretty living teacups, and you have a good idea what cup-and-saucer vine flowers look like. This vigorous vine is native to Mexico; it grows as a perennial in very warm zones, but it makes a charming summer annual in other regions.

Cup-and-saucer vine produces many tendril-climbing stems clad with handsome bright green leaves. From early to mid-summer until fall, it bears large, cup-shaped flowers with slightly ruffled rims. The large green calyx at the base of each flower provides the “saucer.”

Flowers open pale green and then turn shades of purple as they mature. (White-flowered forms are available, too.)

Common name: Cup-and-saucer vine, cathedral bells

Botanical name: Cobaea scandens

Plant type: Vine (tender perennial most often grown as an annual)

Zones: 10 or higher as perennial; all zones as annual

Height: 10 to 20 feet

Family: Polemoniaceae


Growing conditions

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Tolerates most soil types
  • Moisture: Moderately moist to moderately dry


Care

  • Mulch: None, or 1 to 2 inches organic mulch
  • Pruning: None
  • Fertilizer: Apply compost or soluble fertilizer as needed

Propagation

  • Seeds

Pests and diseases

  • No major problems

Cultivars

  • ‘Alba’ (syn. f. alba) has white flowers.
  • ‘Royal Plum’ has purple flowers.
  • ‘Key Lime’ has greenish white flowers.

Garden notes
  • Plant cup-and-saucer vine where you can appreciate the flowers close-up, like on a patio trellis, on a free-standing garden obelisk (called a tuteur), or trained up a lamppost.
  • The fruit of cup-and-saucer vine is a fleshy capsule containing winged seeds; fruits may not develop in short-season regions.
  • Start seeds of cup-and-saucer vine 8 to 10 weeks before last frost date for your area.

All in the family

  • Cup-and-saucer vine is a member of the phlox family (Polemoniaceae), which contains about 20 to 25 genera of annuals and perennials.
  • Two popular groups of garden plants in this family are phloxes and Jacob’s ladders (Polemonium).

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