How to Plant and Grow Parrot's Beak

One look at the flowers and you'll see where this tropical plant gets its name.

Parrot's beak is a stunning tropical flower that acts as a groundcover and trailing plant. With lacy silver foliage on graceful stems, these plants work as backdrops in the garden. During seasons with cool nights, the plants boast curved blooms in all the shades of a sunset, including deep reds, oranges, and yellows. A low-maintenance plant hardy in Zones 10-11, it's grown as an annual or perennial, depending on the region.

Parrot’s Beak Overview

Genus Name Lotus berthelotii
Common Name Parrot’s Beak
Plant Type Annual, Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 2 to 3 feet
Flower Color Orange, Red
Foliage Color Gray/Silver
Season Features Fall Bloom, Spring Bloom, Winter Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Where to Plant Parrot's Beak

To encourage beautiful blooms, grow parrot's beak (Lotus berthelotii) in light well-draining soil in an area that receives full sun or partial shade in very hot areas. It blooms best in cool weather, so expect blooms in spring and early summer. It may stop blooming completely in the heat of summer. Parrot's beak is a tender perennial in Zones 10 or 11 and grows as an annual is cooler areas. As an annual, parrot's beak is stunning in a patio container or hanging basket; as a perennial, it is excellent as a groundcover for small areas, in rock gardens, or trailing over a wall.

How and When to Plant Parrot's Beak

If you're growing parrot's beak as a perennial in areas where it is cold-hardy, plant nursery-grown plants in the fall. Prepare garden soil that is loamy, lightweight, and well-draining. Dig a hole big enough to hold the root ball and set the plant in the hole at the same soil level as it was in the container. Backfill the hole and press down on the soil to remove air pockets. Water well.

In cooler zones, where parrot's beak is grown as an annual, plant it in early spring in containers or hanging baskets, using standard potting soil with some vermiculite or perlite mixed in.

Keep in mind that parrot's beak begins to flower when nights are cool, so they'll usually grow best in the spring and early summer and then again in fall. In warm tropical climates, they'll grow well in the winter.

Parrot's Beak Care Tips

Parrot's beak is sensitive compared to other trailing annuals and a little tricky to grow.


Parrot's beak does best in full sun, promoting better branching and intense silver foliage. In part shade, branching is much more sparse, and leaves will take on more of a greenish hue. It may be best to give these plants some shade during hot afternoons in climates with hot summers.

Soil and Water

These plants like pH-neutral, well-drained soil. They're likely to drop their leaves if they go too dry for too long. Be sure to water them well, especially in the summer heat. If you start to see leaf drop, your plant is getting too much or too little water. Allow the top layer of soil to dry out between waterings.

Temperature and Humidity

Parrot's beak prefers moderate temperatures. It's highly sensitive to hot or cold weather and will stop blooming in the summer if the temperature at night is high.


Fertilize twice a week with a water-soluble fertilizer in the spring and summer, according to manufacturer's instructions, or add a slow-release fertilizer in early spring.


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 lose vigor as they age, the plants can easily be cut back to spur new growth. In Zones 10-11, where the plant is a perennial, prune in late winter to promote new growth in spring.

Potting and Repotting Parrot's Beak

Parrot's beak is an excellent plant for potting. Its trailing flowers are a pretty addition to an arrangement. Use any container for potting parrot's beak, as long as it's well-draining. Space the individual plants 8 to 12 inches apart in a moist, well-draining potting mix. Water regularly when soil seems dry, especially in air-conditioned rooms. Repot when roots grow out drainage holes or up through the soil.

Pests and Problems

Parrot's beak has little trouble with pests or diseases. The biggest threat to their survival is extreme heat or cold.

Spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs are possible problems for indoor parrot's beak plants.

How to Propagate Parrot's Beak

Parrot's beak can be propagated by cuttings or seeds.

Cuttings: Eight to 10 weeks before the last frost in spring, take 3-4 inch cuttings from an indoor parrot's beak houseplant or a perennial outdoor plant. Remove the leaves from the bottom 1 inch and insert them in a moist soilless mix. Keep them in a warm area and provide high humidity for the best rooting success. After they root and begin to show new growth, transplant the cuttings to larger pots and pinch the tips of the branches to encourage branching. Move them outdoors after the last frost in spring.

Seed: Gardeners with a parrot's beak can harvest a seed pod after the flower blooms, although the resulting plants may not resemble the parent. Put the seed pod in a paper bag and leave it to dry for several days. Break the pod open to locate the seeds. Place the seeds in a bag containing peat moss and store it in a cool dry location. Plant the seeds within a few weeks in small pots filled with moistened seed-starting mix or potting soil mixed with vermiculite or perlite. Cover each pot with a clear plastic bag and place it in a cool, bright (not sunny) location. When the seeds germinate, remove the bag and keep the growing medium moist as they grow. They won't produce flowers the first year.

Types of Parrot's Beak

'Amazon Sunset' Parrot's Beak


Lotus Berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset' blooms more frequently than most other parrot's beak varieties. This hybrid bears orange-red flowers above beautiful silver foliage. Zones 10-11.

Parrot's Beak Companion Plants


Angelonia Serena White
David Speer

Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach 1 or 2 feet high, studded with snapdragon-like flowers with colorations in purple, white, or pink. It adds 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. Zones 9-10

Gerbera Daisy

red gerbera daisies
Marty Baldwin

Gerbera daisies bloom in nearly every color (except true blues and purples) and produce huge flowers on long, thick, sturdy stems. They last for a week or more in a vase, making them a favorite of flower arrangers. This tender perennial will last through the winter in only the warmest parts of the country. In the rest of the country, it's grown as an annual. Zones 9-11


Eustoma 'Balboa White' lisianthus
John Reed Forsman

Lisianthus flowers make people ooh and ahh. Lisianthus is one of the best cut flowers—it will last in a vase for 2 to 3 weeks. However, lisianthus can be challenging to grow. Zones 8-10

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I get my parrot's beak to flower?

    Grow the plant in full sun and apply a slow-release granular fertilizer to the garden soil in early spring. Remember that the plant only blooms when the nights are cool—typically in spring and early summer. It may stop blooming entirely in the summer if nighttime temperatures remain high. If you are growing it as a house plant, apply a liquid flower fertilizer every two weeks in spring and early summer to encourage robust blooming and keep it in a cool room.

  • Does parrot's beak attract wildlife?

    Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are all drawn to parrot's beak blooms. The plant is deer-resistant, but deer will nibble on it if no other food is available.

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