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Parrot's Beak

Lotus berthelotii

Parrot's beak is a stunning tropical plant that acts as both a groundcover and a trailing plant. With brilliant lacy silver foliage on graceful stems, these plants are stunning backdrops in the garden. Parrot’s beak also features amazingly intricate blooms in stunning colors. During seasons with cool nights, the plants boast interesting curved blooms in all of the shades of a sunset—deep reds, oranges, and yellows blended together.

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

6 to 12 inches

Width:

Up to 2 feet

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Zones:

10-11

Propagation

Colorful Combinations

The trailing silver foliage of parrot's beak works well with many other plants. The long and graceful stems are adorned with whorls of fine, silvery green leaflets that give the whole plant a light and feathery appearance. The neutral foliage enhances any color combination, whether a warm or cool palette. And as long as the nights are cool, these plants have their own beautiful flowers. Curved hook-like petals are borne in rounded clusters of red, orange, and yellow blooms. The stunning blooms are almost orchid-like in their complexity.

Parrot's Beak Care Must-Knows

Parrot's beak is sensitive compared to other trailing annuals, and therefore a little tricky to grow. These plants like well-drained soil. If they go too dry for too long, they are likely to drop their leaves. Be sure to water them well, especially in the heat of the summer. If you plan on growing parrot's beak for its blooms, keep in mind that they initiate flowers only when the plant experiences cool nights for an extended period of time—so they'll generally grow best in the spring and fall. In warm tropical climates, they'll grow well in the winter.

To encourage beautiful blooms, grow parrot's beak in full sun. Full sun also promotes better branching as well as intense silver foliage. In part shade, branching is much more sparse and foliage will take on more of a greenish hue. In climates with hot summers, it may be best to give these plants some shade during hot afternoons.

When growing parrot's beak from seed or as young plants, pinch young growth early on to encourage branching, otherwise the plants will get leggy. If they seem to lose some of their vigor as they get older, the plants can easily be cut back to spur a flush of new growth.

New Innovations

There has been very little work done when it comes to parrot's beak. Part of this may be due to the origins of the plant. Parrot's beak is native to the Canary and Cape Verde Islands and is almost extinct in the wild. With such a small area of origin, there is very little genetic variation between the remaining plants in cultivation, so selection is limited. The few cultivars of note are crosses of two species that are very similar in all aspects.

garden plans for Parrot's beak

More Varieties of Parrot's Beak

'Amazon Sunset' parrot's beak

Lotus 'Amazon Sunset' blooms more frequently than most other parrot's beak varieties. It bears orange-red flowers.

plant Parrot's Beak With:

Angelonia
Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and you'll know why once you get a good look at it. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or 2 high, and they're studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. Most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, but it is a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can even keep it flowering all winter.
Gerbera daisy
Gerbera daisies are so perfect they hardly look real. They bloom in nearly every color (except true blues and purples) and produce fantastically large flowers on long, thick, sturdy stems. They last for a week or more in the vase, making them a favorite of flower arrangers. This tender perennial will last through the winter in only the warmest parts of the country, Zones 9-11. In the rest of the country, it is grown as an annual. It does well in average soil, liking it kept evenly moist but not overly wet. Fertilize lightly.
Lisianthus
Lisianthus flowers make people ooh and ahh. Some varieties of this annual look like a blue rose. It's such an elegant flower you'd never guess it's native to American prairies. And lisianthus is one of the best cut flowers—it will last in the vase for 2 to 3 weeks. Lisianthus can be challenging to grow. They're extremely tricky to grow from seed, so start with established seedlings. Plant them in rich, well-drained soil in full sun after all danger of frost has passed. Keep moist, but do not overwater. Taller varieties of lisianthus often need staking to keep their long stems from breaking, but newer dwarf varieties are more carefree.
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