Lotus vine's scarlet flowers, from which the name parrot's beak is derived, are a short-term bonus from this lovely plant. It's the smoky gray, feathery foliage that makes this plant such a beautiful addition to summer container plantings. A native of the Canary Islands, it's a member of the legume or pea family. It is only hardy in frost-free parts of the United States.
Description of lotus vine, parrot's beak: Lotus vine (which is really a trailer) can grow up to 3 feet in length by the end of the season. It has many-branched segments covered with very fine, gray-green leaves. In sun, they're almost iridescent. The blossoms that appear in June or early July are up to 1 inch long with curved petals. They're scarlet to crimson, lightening to an orange-red as they fade.
: Grow lotus vine in full sun. Normally, it is used in containers and will be satisfied with any commercial potting soil mix. In the wild, it will tolerate summer drought and periods of moisture shortage, but will grow more lushly if given adequate water. Add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil at planting time for continuous feeding during the summer. Space 8 to 12 inches apart in containers.
: By cuttings. Take cuttings 8 to 10 weeks prior to planting out (after all danger of frost has passed). Strip the foliage off the bottom 1 inch of cuttings and insert in a soil mix. Keep humidity high during rooting. Pinch tips to induce branching.
: Lotus vine is one of the best plants for dressing up mixed container plantings. The trailing habit covers containers, adding color to window boxes, hanging baskets, and planter boxes. Lotus is especially good with white or pastel colors and combined with geraniums of all kinds in planters.
Lotus vine, parrot's beak scientific name: Lotus berthelotti