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Tropaeolum tricolor - Chilean Nasturtium

NeatoThe Chilean Nasturtium - Tropaeolum tricolor - is a stunning, rare vine with psychedelic blooms!  Its vivid scarlet, yellow, and blue flowers swim like schools of tropical fish throughout winter, when most plants are colorless.  This cool-climate plant isn't for everyone, but if you can provide the right conditions, it's an exciting plant to grow.  It is rare in cultivation and hard to find.

Tropaeolum tricolor - Chilean Nasturtium

Tropaeolum tricolor is a tuberous, perennial Nasturtium from Chile and Bolivia.  The vine tends to grow 4 to 6 feet tall, although it can potentially get to 9 feet.  It has wiry stems and dainty leaves, both of which are surprisingly durable.  The leaf stems are sensitive to touch and act like tendrils, wrapping themselves around branches as the plant climbs upward.  Around late winter, once the plant has all its leaves, the flowers make their appearance.  They tend to face the same general direction, giving the impression that they're swimming together!  They are very long-lasting blooms.  In the spring, after the flower show is over, the vine goes dormant until autumn.

Tropaeolum tricolor - Chilean Nasturtium

During the winter growing period, it prefers temperatures below 80 degrees (27C) with nights that are cool and frost-free.  The plant might not thrive in areas that regularly get above 80 degrees from fall through spring, especially if nights are warm.  It is said to be able to handle a light, brief frost, but i recommend protecting it from freezing temperatures.  During the summer dormancy, the tubers must be kept dry.  The plant grows well in a 2-3 gallon container.  Give it a trellis with slender supports for it to climb around.  A tall tomato cage works well for this.  Use well-draining, lime-free soil that is kept moist during the growing season.  The plant prefers part sun, with protection from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 40% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, this is an easy and very fun plant!

Tropaeolum tricolor - Chilean Nasturtium

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