(Plant family – Bignoniaceae: Origin – Chile; Argentina; Peru; Western Americas)
The Chilean Glory Vine - or Eccremocarpus scaber to give it its proper name – is one of my favourite climbers, so if this article sounds a little biased, it is! Eccremocarpus is easy to grow; quite quick but not invasive, and just adores full sun – or at least full light in the absence of sun.
It is best classed as an evergreen perennial, for Eccremocarpus never develops the woody stems that would allow it to be classed as a climbing shrub.
Chilean Glory Vine plant is not the hardiest of subjects, sometimes failing in severe winters. Much can be done to help it by planting this vine in a well drained – even dry –soil area. Winter waterlogging of the root system is not an ideal situation.
The flowers which persist from late spring until autumn are tubular clusters, with a colour range from cream through gold and orange to the deepest red. There are a few named varieties, but a good assortment of colours can be obtained from packet of seed!
Eccremocarpus scaber has a decided advantage over many of the traditional climbing plants in that it can be grown easily from seed. From seed sowing to a height of 1.5m in the first year (5ft) is realistic, and it will start its long flowering period after growing just 30cm tall.
Chilean Glory Flower Vine is best grow against a sunny wall or fence. Otherwise any open sunny position that is sheltered will suit. South or west facing walls or fences are perfect – thriving in the reflected heat of the near direct sunshine. It also looks quite stunning when allowed to climb up other plants. Although evergreen it will not smother its host plant.
Lightweight or heavy trellis is suitable but not needing thick bars as it climbs via curling leaf tendrils. If growing up a pergola upright or where there is no trellis support. Galvanised training wire can be used for climbing – even string or heavy twine if grown as annual. It will need watering only in the driest of weather, and then at the root system, rather than simply spraying the plant.
The flowers ‘drip’ nicely off horizontal wires.
Plant Eccremocarpus in any well-drained soil - other than heavy clay soils. My best specimens were grown in an alkaline soil but they also suit most acid soils. Mulch the root area well at planting time and later in year if keeping it through the winter.
There will rarely be the need for feeding, but if required, a slow release fertilizer applied once in late spring.
If grown from young plants or seeds, they will need a helping hand upwards for the first 30cm or so. Once that’s done they will look after themselves providing there is something to cling to.
If you live in a severe winter area, or if the plant succumbs to a harsh winter spell, they can easily be re-started in spring from some save seed. (It is a good idea to save some seed and keep it in a paper bag in dry cool area.) Don’t give up hope though even if the plant is hit back to ground level. They often re-grow from the base and will soon regain their original size.
There are no diseases – fungal or virus – that we are aware of.
Easy to take softwood tip cuttings in late summer, then pot once roots and keep well sheltered for the first winter in pot. Plant out in early spring once hardened off.
Seed sown plants can be raised either by direct sowing outside, or in a propagator from early spring. Sow a few seeds in a small pot or so and plant out as a batch in late spring.
Pruning is rarely needed other than a bit of tidying up in spring. Just trim of any dead, disheveled or otherwise wayward shoots. It can also be cut back quite hard and allowed to re-start again from near ground level. Apply an organic mulch and slow release fertilizer in this instance.