Social Climber


This delightful little twining climber is properly called Maurandella antirrhiniflora but fortunately its common names are the much easier Climbing Antirrhinum, Twining Snapdragon or, in the States, Roving Sailor. It is very easy from seed and produces hundreds of plants from an early sowing in a 3″ pot. I give lots away to people who probably don’t want them but are just being nice. However, they tend to come back for more the following year if they haven’t saved their own seed.027

The flowers are a delicious almost luminous dark violet with a white throat and shaped, as you would expect, just like an antirrhinum. It needs to climb and twist around something but the vines are so small and delicate that it works well planted with something tall like Agastache foeniculum which is strong and upright and a complementary colour. It can reach 2m high if you wish but I find 1.2m about right. When it reaches the top of the plant or the support it just falls backwards and continues to flower on the way down.025

It produces a lot of seed at the end of the season which keeps well in the fridge for the following year. I would heartily recommend it as an extra which ‘peps up’ a container display or an otherwise boring tallish plant which might be past its best by July when Maurandella comes into its own for a couple of months.024

I have a feeling it might be related to the climbing foxglove, Lophospermum erubescens which I also grow and which I wrote about last year. They both seem to have the alternative genus of Asarina and both originate from the southern United States and Mexico. However, the Lophospermum overwintered as a dormant tuber in the cold greenhouse which I don’t think the Maurandella would. There are also red, white, pink and orange varieties to brighten up your patio or conservatory. Really worthwhile trying…if you like that sort of thing!

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!