Lofty Lofos

A friend kindly gave me a tiny self-sown plant in August and told me to ‘have a go’ with it, which usually means it is going to be difficult. Not this one! Lofos, or more accurately Lophospermum erubescens (meaning reddening or blushing), was formerly called Asarina and, confusingly, is sometimes  also called Maurandia erubescens.

Creeping Gloxina #2

Creeping Gloxina

It has the common names of either Climbing Foxglove, Creeping Gloxinia or Twining Snapdragon depending on which part of the world you come from. Originating from Mexico, but now also common across the Mediterranean, it is a beautiful climber with felty heart shaped leaves and mid-pink flowers like foxgloves, which appear from July to October. I believe this is the species form but there are creamy white and dark red cultivars too which may be hybrids. I have read that they work well in hanging baskets as they fall as well as climb.       I have been amazed at it’s rate of growth. From a nondescript 9cm pot plant it has shot up to the top of a 5′ cane in just a few weeks and two flowers opened today! I can’t believe it will keep up this phenomenal growth much longer and with the nights drawing in and getting colder it will surely stop soon.

Species: Asarina erubenscens Family: Scrophula...

Species: Asarina erubenscens Family: Scrophulariaceae Image No. 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In summer, this vine will climb to about 10′ using its leaf stems to attach, and does well in full sun or part shade. It needs a moist soil though, so it mustn’t dry out.  It is a half hardy perennial and apparently forms a tuber, which can be dried off and stored over winter, but judging from the number of self-sown seedlings in my friend’s greenhouse, it is also very easy from seed!  It should be happy to grow as a houseplant over the winter if you have the room, or in a heated conservatory. I haven’t got either so it will have to take it’s chances in the greenhouse cuddled up to the cannas and dahlias!

21 thoughts on “Lofty Lofos

  1. I have never heard of this plant but it looks worth a go. I am forever struggling with sweet peas so this might be a good alternative to try.

    • Hi Helen. My friend has it growing up an obelisk and it was smothered with flowers all summer. Try Rhodochiton as well, easy from seed and flowers for months.
      I have some Sweet Pea seed that never fails! It is a Grandiflora variety which I have been growing for 10 years. Would you like some? I would be pleased to send you some to try. If you sow it when the clocks go back and plant it out when the clocks go forward I guarantee good results! If you want to try Rhodochiton, I can send you some seed either fresh from this year when it has ripened in a few weeks time or some of last years which will still be viable. Sow it at 20° in a propagator in March and it will be up in a week. Email me at
      Kind regards
      P.S. Thanks for being my Blotanical mentor as well!

  2. I have been trying to buy some seeds with no joy, please send some to Terry Donovan
    16 Gwaun Coed
    Mid glamorgan
    CF31 2HS

  3. Hi, I had a question (if it ‘s not too late), about your Asarina erubenscens. I was trying to see what the of training-netting-bamboo sticks that you use. I’d like to grow it more on the taller side if possible.
    Thank You so much & I hope your having a great growing season thus far!

    *Darby Smith

    • Hi Darby
      The Lophospermum/Asarina/climbing foxglove (take your pick!) curls its leave stalks tightly around the support and hauls itself up that way. Last year, mine managed about 3 metres (10 feet) up a tripod of wires in a 40cm pot. It was in a windy position but hung on no problem. It was literally covered in pink flowers from top to bottom all summer and into autumn. It just didn’t want to stop. The good news is that the tuber overwintered in its pot in the greenhouse and sprouted shoots in February. It is already in position and is about 30 cm high and ready to climb.
      Good luck and I hope you will come back to my blog another day. I will post a picture of ‘Lofty Lofos’ again later this year.
      Kind regards

  4. Hi, I would like to know which country you are in(re growing conditions of Lofos, I live in southwestern australia and have just bought two plants would like to know if best in ground or in pot/Basket

    • Hi Christa.
      Lophospermum arborescens is a twining climber which works really well in a pot because it doesn’t have a big root system. It needs plenty of water and feeds every two weeks in the growing season but is pretty easy. It will do best in a well drained nutritious soil but needs canes or wires to twine around up to approx 2.2m high. Flowers are prolific and beautiful like foxgloves without the spots!
      Hope this was helpful.
      Good luck and thanks for contacting me.

    • Hi Christa Rogers, I would like to know please where you purchased your Lofos plant from. I too am in Australia however I am struggling to find anywhere to purchase the plant. Thanks Nicola

      • Hi Nicola. It is dead easy from seed and as it produces seed freely I am sure someone must be selling some in Australia. I hear you have very strict rules on importing seeds otherwise I could have sent you some!
        Kind regards from Cheltenham, UK.

  5. This is the first year I have tried lofos, one white one and one red wine. The white is doing very well, but the wine red had only three flowers. The white is still blooming, but it only has flowers at the top now. The instructions say this plant doesn’t need to be deadheaded. I’m wondering whether I should be deadheading so it will keep on blooming. Can I collect the seeds and grow my own next year?

    • Hi Martha
      I have to say, I found the white ones unattractive compared to the pink variety but I have never been able to find seed for the wine red ones. The oink ones in my blog photos deadheaded themselves by falling profusely as soon as the flower was pollinated. Yes, the flowers keep opening as the vine climbs so you will end up with only flowers at the top but often the side shoots flower later from lower down the stem.
      They are so attractive to bees that virtually every flower gets pollinated and so sets seed, millions of them! There must be 1000 seeds in every seed head! I have always found they come true from seed so go ahead and leave a few seed heads to dry on the plant and collect them, clean them and store them for next year.
      Hope this helps.
      Best wishes and good gardening

  6. I live in NW Washington state. I love my lophos and want to know how or if I should bring it inside for the winter? It can get freezing and into the lower 10F in the winter. I don;’t want to lose this beauty. Got winterizing suggestions?

    • Hi Cynthia
      As you know, I live in the UK which is not as cold as Washington state. I would definitely bring your Lophos into a frost free area. Cut it back and let it go dormant for the winter and then encourage new growth in Spring by providing heat and watering. Alternatively, grow them from seed each year. If you start them early enough they flower in June. I have got 25 self sown seedings I am going to try to overwinter in a friend’s heated glasshouse!

  7. When the Lofos blooms fall off it appears to produce what I think is a seed pod, sort of like Petunias do. Do you remove the pod to direct the plants energy towards new bloom production?

  8. Hi all! I hope this isn’t the wrong place for this question. I’m relatively new to the gardening world and only just recently moved to a new place that has a sunny back porch. I acquired a Lofos in a hanging pot (standard size plastic hanging pot- I think it’s about 12in?) and while it had done well through the summer & was blooming, the aphids have been a nightmare! I’ve tried soapy water and it seems to have no impact on them. My mother suggested neem oil, but I’ve also been warned that can burn the foliage when it’s in the sun, and as this is a sun-loving plant I’ve been hesitant to try it. It has since started looking really sad and some of the tendrils are dying off & it’s no longer blooming. It’s also getting into frost season here and I am planning to move it inside.

    Should I cut it back and re-pot it with new soil? should I leave it and attempt to kill off the pests with neem oil now that the sun isn’t so strong? please help! I really like this plant and don’t want to kill it 😦

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions ❤

    • Hi Ashley, David here. Lophospermum needs a period of rest after blooming to gain further energy for the following season. Cut it back to 6-8″ and give it a rest. This will get rid of the aphids too!

  9. When the leaves start all dying, does our mean it is dying? It is November in Oregon. We had a couple of freezing days but I took it inside arms I have kept it inside since than. BUT four days ago the leaves started dying. Does that mean it is dying? I am talking about my lofos wine red plant.

    • Hi Rebekah. It sounds like the frost has killed the foliage. They are not hardy below 40 degrees but if you cut it back, the crown and roots may survive and come back in the spring. Keep it dry and cool over winter and good luck!

  10. When the leaves start all dying, does our mean it is dying? It is November in Oregon. We had a couple of freezing days but I took it inside arms I have kept it inside since than. BUT four days ago the leaves started dying. Does that mean it is dying?

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