Tropaeolum hookerianum

Jane McGary
Wed, 12 Mar 2014 17:21:34 PDT
Bea asked
>Since we are discussing tropaeolum, I got some seeds of tropaeolum
>polyphyllum from Chileflora a couple of years ago and planted then in a
>quart pot.  I had some germination but did not look after the seedlings
>properly and last summer there was no sign of life in the pot. I kept in
>anyway in a cool greenhouse over winter and to my surprise I have three
>shoots in the pot now. The tubers worked themselves to  the bottom of the
>pot and I can see then through the drainage holes. Now what? Should I repot
>it to a much larger pot?  If so, when?
>Beaver Creek Nurseries had it on their site that tropaeolum polyphyllum is
>hardy to zone 5.  Is it true? Could I plant them in my gravel cactus bed

This is a very large-growing plant, with mature specimens producing 
stems over a meter in length. I have seen it growing well in a 
washtub with a number of holes drilled in the bottom, set on bricks. 
In nature it grows in sandy, gravelly places in full sun. A half wine 
barrel would also be appropriate.

I am surprised that Beaver Creek Nursery (located in eastern British 
Columbia and growing most plants in greenhouses) says it is hardy to 
Zone 5 (winter lows of minus 10 degrees F, I think). They may be 
basing this on its elevational range in the Andes, but I always 
regard plants from its region as experiencing similar conditions in 
winter to those found in the mid elevations of California's Sierra 
Nevada. It might survive such temperatures with constant snow cover, 
but I wouldn't leave it outdoors where I live in western Oregon 
(theoretically Zone 7, though USDA zones do not apply here) without 
covering it against winter wet. I think my friend with the plant in 
the washtub took it into his garage in winter.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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