How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Purple Bell Vine


Purple Bell Vine is an eye-catching and showy vining plant that thrives in warm climates and has an exceptional blooming season. Often grown as an annual in cooler climates, this fast-growing vine is excellent for growing over a trellis or arbor. 

The unique and beautiful flowers make this a highly desirable ornamental, and its free-flowering habit means that this is a plant that will bring a great deal of color to the garden for a long period of the year. Although it is not cold tolerant, you can treat this vine as a perennial as long as you overwinter it indoors in a container.

Overview

A cascading Purple Bell Vine reveals its exquisite flowers and lush leaves, gracefully trailing in sunlight. Surrounding green plants create a picturesque backdrop, accentuating the plant's elegance and highlighting its harmonious integration with nature.


Plant Type


Perennial, often grown as an annual


Exposure


Full sun to partial shade


Watering Requirements


Moderate


Pests and Diseases


Aphids, whiteflies, scale, botrytis, Chalara elegans


Soil Type


Chalk, loam, sand, moist but well-drained


Soil pH


Acid, alkaline, neutral

What is Purple Bell Vine?

History

A vibrant display of Vine blooms in a backyard garden, showcasing delicate shades of purple. The green leaves complement the blossoms, creating a harmonious contrast. Bathed in sunlight, the plant radiates natural beauty and vitality.
The taxonomic history of this plant is complex due to multiple name changes by different botanists.

This plant has a complicated taxonomic history, and its name has changed over time. Previously classified as Rhodochiton volubile and Lophospermum atrosanguineum, botanists now use a combination of the two: Rhodochiton atrosangunineus.

It is a winner of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its noteworthy characteristics.

Native Area

A vibrant display of  blooms, showcasing delicate shades of purple. The green leaves complement the blossoms, creating a harmonious contrast. Bathed in sunlight, the plant radiates natural beauty and vitality.
Native to Central America, the Rhodochiton genus comprises three species with restricted distributions.

The Rhodochiton genus is native to Central America, specifically to Mexico and Guatemala. All three species of the genus grow in mountainous cloud forests at elevations of 4,300 to 11,5000 ft. Rhodochiton atrosanguineus is specifically from Mexico.

Characteristics

A close-up of the delicate beauty of  pink flowers. Bathed in soft sunlight, the intricate petals showcase nature's elegance, inviting a closer look at the exquisite details of this captivating floral display.
The twining thin vines of this frost-tender plant readily climb any structure in their way.

This tender perennial climbing vine grows up to 10 feet tall over the course of a single season. It is frost-tender and only perennial in climates that don’t experience frost. In warm climates, you can grow it outdoors year-round.

The thin vines are twining and climb any structure placed in their path. The foliage appears similar to that of a Morning Glory vine, but the two are not related. Leaves are bright green and heart-shaped and often edged with maroon. They are hairy and about two to three inches long. 

The plant gets its name from the flower, which resembles fuchsia in form. The bell-shaped magenta calyces have long, tubular, deep purple petal tubes. After pollination, the tubelike petals will drop off of the plant, and the sepals turn first green and then red, remaining on the plant for several weeks. 

The flowers begin to bloom in late spring, appearing and opening in succession. The long blooming season lasts through the summer and well into fall, depending on the climate. With the first frost, flowers and foliage all die back. 

Uses

A close-up reveals the charm of the flowers and leaves, gracefully climbing a wooden post. Planted in a pot, the vine elegantly trails upwards, creating a visual symphony of nature. In the blurred background, other lush green plants add depth to the garden's rich tapestry.
Purple Bell Vine is predominantly cultivated for its decorative appeal..

This plant is primarily grown for its ornamental value. When given the proper support, these vines can grow as long as 12 feet over the course of their growing season. They also make very nice trailing plants and are often used to fill window baskets due to their prolific flowering habit and attractive foliage. 

Where to Buy

A close-up of a vibrant purple bell vine, with its delicate petals and intricate details on full display. The flower is surrounded by lush green leaves, adding to the overall beauty of the scene.
This vine is most often grown from seeds.

Because it is most often grown from seeds, Purple Bell Vine can be challenging to find in nurseries, but it is not unheard of. Seeds are widely available from online and local retailers, depending on your region and general availability. Nursery plants will be more widely available in warm climates.

Planting

A close-up exhibits the intricate flowers revealing its vibrant shades of purple and pink, each petal delicately unfurling. Against a blurred background, lush greenery enhances the enchanting beauty of these blossoms.
Once germinated and sprouted, the seedlings will accelerate their growth.

Typically started from seed, sow your Purple Bell Vine seeds indoors in late winter. The seeds germinate slowly, so it’s a good idea to get started early, at least a month or two before the ground is expected to thaw. 

Transplant your seedlings at 12-16 weeks old after the threat of frost has passed. Once they germinate and sprout, your seedlings should pick up speed and grow quite quickly. Plant these seedlings in a sunny spot in soil that retains moisture but is well-draining to prevent soggy, rotting roots. 

Plant your seedlings 10”-12” apart after the outdoor soil warms. Make sure to keep your seeds and seedlings moist during these early days especially. In areas where the cold season is short-lived, and the ground doesn’t freeze, you can sow seeds directly in the ground as long as all threat of frost has passed. 

How to Grow

Purple Bell Vine is considered low-maintenance and easy to grow. It has moderate to significant moisture needs but is otherwise considered disease-free and a vigorous grower that quickly takes on its mature form and flowers within a short time after planting. 

Light

The Purple Bell Vine plant displays exquisite flowers with vivid hues, gracefully. Its emerald leaves, with serrated edges, add to the plant's allure. In the background, the rest of the plant thrives, glistening with the touch of water moisture.
The perfect location for this plant is one that receives ample direct sunlight in the morning.

Full sun to partial shade is best. The ideal space for this place receives many hours of direct sun early in the day, with some shade in the afternoon. These conditions ensure maximum blooming without the harsh afternoon sun scalding leaves and wilting flowers. 

Water

A close-up of blooms, showcasing delicate purple petals with intricate details. The lush green leaves, adorned with vibrant veins, complement the blossoms gracefully. The plant glistens, moist with droplets of water, enhancing its natural allure.
Provide a moist environment and avoid letting the soil dry out entirely.

When initially planted, your Purple Bell Vine seeds should be kept moist at all times. Once the seeds germinate and the plant begins to grow, you can water once per week in temperate weather, giving the plant about one inch of water weekly. 

Purple Bell Vine is a moisture-loving plant, so the soil should not be allowed to dry out completely. During periods of hot, dry weather, you will need to increase watering. In some cases, your plant may need to be watered daily. 

Soil

A gardener's hands cradle a handful of nutrient-rich, dark soil, teeming with life. The earthy mixture, composed of decomposed organic matter, promises a fertile foundation for flourishing plants. Below, the soil bed awaits, mirroring the potential for growth and abundance.
While the plant can tolerate various soil types, the optimal choice is rich, moist, and fertile soil.

Because Purple Bell Vine is a moisture-loving plant, it needs to be planted in soil that retains moisture but also drains well. You want moisture but not soggy soil for this pretty plant. Most soil types are tolerated, but the ideal soil for this plant is rich, moist, fertile soil. 

If you have poor soil or very clay-heavy soil and intend to plant in the ground, amend your soil with some well-rotted compost or manure to add nutrients and improve drainage and moisture-holding ability. Acidic soil is preferred but not vital to the health of the plant as long as proper nutrients are available.

Temperature and Humidity

A close-up reveals the intricate structure of flowers, showcasing vivid purple hues and delicate petals. The blurred background features lush greenery, providing a captivating contrast to the detailed floral arrangement.
To ensure its survival during freezing conditions, consider overwintering this plant indoors.

Purple Bell Vine is a warm climate plant that is typically grown as an annual in cooler climates. It can be overwintered indoors if grown in an environment that experiences freezing weather. If growing in a container as a perennial, don’t wait until a frost to bring this plant indoors. Rather, pay attention to the forecast and plan to bring your plant indoors when temperatures dip near 40°F (4°C). 

Heat is not usually an issue for this plant, but if you anticipate a very hot season, give your plant some shade in the afternoon and additional water. These factors will significantly prolong the life of the flowers. In zones 9-11, your vine can be planted in the ground and will overwinter well. Humidity is less important than moisture to the roots, but this plant will tolerate higher humidity as long as there is adequate air circulation. 

Fertilizing

A close-up of slow-release fertilizer placed inside an orange plastic basket, strategically anchored on rich brown soil. The soil, adorned with small plant debris, complements the orange basket, creating a harmonious composition in this gardening scene.
To meet its nutrient requirements, fertilize the plant monthly with an all-purpose, balanced fertilizer.

Provide a moderate supply of nutrients. Mixing in compost or manure when planting will supply the plant with its nutrient needs. Additionally, you can fertilize this plant about once per month using an all-purpose, balanced fertilizer or mix a slow-release, granular fertilizer two or three times per year during the growing season.

Maintenance

A close-up captures the exquisite blooms, showcasing intricate petals in shades of purple and pink. The plant's lush green leaves provide a striking contrast, elegantly trailing above a slender brown stem, capturing the essence of natural beauty. Surrounded by a backdrop of green trees and leaves, the Purple Bell Vine basks in radiant light, creating a harmonious and picturesque scene.
Adjust watering if the soil remains overly moist, as the plant absorbs less water in winter.

When grown as an annual, Purple Bell Vine requires little in the way of pruning. This plant will die back in the winter, and dead foliage needs to be removed to keep the garden looking neat. In warm climates where this plant is a perennial, some pruning improves the overall appearance of the plant. 

After your vine finishes flowering, trimming it up encourages the plant to branch, giving it a fuller and more floriferous growth habit in the following years. This also keeps the vines neat and manageable. 

In terms of overwintering, bring your plant indoors before the first expected freeze to maintain the foliage and size of the plant. Give your plant a sunny spot for the cooler months, and about one inch of water per week. If the soil appears to be staying overly moist, reduce watering as the plant will take in less water in the winter.

Growing in Containers

A close-up of a potted plant, its verdant leaves radiating health and vitality. The lush foliage, with its textured greenery, adds a touch of botanical elegance. Delicate small flowers adorn the plant, enhancing its charm as it gracefully begins to trail along a straight wooden surface, creating a captivating display of nature's artistry.
Any container will suffice as long as it ensures proper drainage.

These vines don’t make great houseplants in general. They grow quite large over time and require a lot of light and water to look their best. However, they do make good outdoor container plants and can be brought indoors for a short time to protect them from cold weather. 

Moisture and drainage are the most important factors to consider when growing these plants in a container. It is important to not allow the soil to dry out completely, which can be more challenging with potted plants than those planted in the ground. 

A hanging basket is wonderful for showcasing the attractive growth habit and cascading flowers. Window boxes also tend to be a popular container for this plant. Any container will work as long as there is proper drainage and you use potting soil that is nutrient-rich and retains enough moisture. 

It is important to keep your plants watered in containers, as they tend to dry out faster. This is especially true in warm climates where water evaporates quickly. Keep your plant watered well, and make sure to place it in a location where it gets plenty of morning sun, with some protection in the afternoon. 

Propagation

A close-up of a Purple Bell Vine plant showcases the intricate end of the wood, where delicate tendrils cascade elegantly. The trailing branches, adorned with lush green leaves, create a graceful display. In the background, the subtle outline of a house roof adds context to the natural beauty.
Starting Purple Bell Vine from seeds is typically done through the seed propagation method.

Purple Bell Vine is most commonly propagated by seed, and the germination process can be an exercise in patience. However, once your seeds sprout, they will grow into mature plants very quickly. 

When starting your seeds indoors, which is necessary in cooler climates, get started well ahead of the spring planting season. Purple Bell Vine seeds take up to 45 days to germinate. This can be frustrating and disappointing if you don’t know what to expect. 

Start your seeds indoors about 8-10 weeks before you intend to plant them outdoors. The seeds need no cold stratification. They do, however, need to be kept moist throughout the germination process, so they do require some attention during this period. 

Begin with a soil mixture that drains well but also retains some moisture to prevent having to water these daily. A combination of potting soil, peat moss, and perlite will do the job quite well. Moisten your soil before gently pressing the seeds into the surface. The seeds don’t need to be sown deeply. Keep your seeds moist and warm, and above all, be patient. 

In warmer climates that do not experience freezing temperatures, you can sow your seeds directly in the ground in early spring. The same rules apply here; the seeds need to be kept moist and will take quite some time to germinate. Once seedlings have sprouted, keep the soil evenly moist. 

Common Problems

When grown outdoors, there are very few issues that your Purple Bell Vine will contend with. Most issues occur with plants that are cultivated indoors

Pests

A close-up of vivid green aphids revealing its intricate details and slender body. The aphids are infesting beneath the leaf surface, their translucent forms contrasting against the greenery, highlighting their subtle yet impactful presence in the natural ecosystem.
Immediate isolation of the infested plant is crucial to curb the spread of insects between plants.

When grown indoors, there are a few insects that your plant may come up against. These can threaten the overall health of the vine. Aphids, whiteflies, scales, and spider mites are all potential threats to this plant. If you identify an infestation, isolate the plant immediately to prevent the spread of insects from one plant to another. 

Pests are usually brought into the house on plants that are new or coming in from outdoors for the winter. Prevention is best where insects are concerned, so it is important to carefully inspect any new plants before bringing them into the home.

Sometimes, the inevitable occurs, though, and you end up with an infestation in spite of your best efforts. Neem oil is great for treating infestations of indoor plants. You may need to re-treat your plant after a week or two to kill all generations. 

Botrytis

A close-up of green leaves reveals a troubling sight of botrytis infestation, with small grayish patches in their vibrant surface. The affected leaves display signs of fungal intrusion, casting a shadow on the once-pristine foliage.
To prevent its spread, prioritize air circulation for your plants.

Botrytis is a fungal infection also known as gray mold. It causes irregularities in the growth of flowers and leaves and can manifest in mushy brown spots and mold on various parts of the plant. This is a cool, moist weather issue that can crop up in greenhouses and indoors during the colder months. 

Keep an eye on overwintering plants, and make air circulation a priority in the rooms where you keep your plants. If you notice plants affected by this fungus, isolate them and treat with a copper-based fungicide. Remove any damaged foliage to stem the spread. 

Frequently Asked Questions

No, it is not listed as toxic and is safe for both humans and animals.

This plant is not invasive. It is a tender perennial that dies off in freezing weather and doesn’t re-seed aggressively.

Pods will form after flowers are pollinated, and seeds can be harvested from these pods. Allow the pod to dry on the vine and then break it open and collect the seeds. This is not always successful, but worth a try if you have an established plant.

Final Thoughts

You won’t regret adding this beautiful and unique vine to your garden. Purple Bell Vine, with its heart-shaped foliage and bounty of purple flowers, will bring joy and tons of pollinators to your garden from spring through fall. This easily managed plant is a challenge to germinate but a pleasure to observe once it begins to grow and flourish. 



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