Mexican blood trumpet
This showy climber from Mexico was planted extensively by local gardeners during the latter half of the last century. Today it appears to have fallen from grace and no longer maintains the popularity of a bygone era. It is somewhat confusing as there are not that many different climbing plants available for planting in South African gardens. Perhaps climbers as a generic group of plants are used less and less as more permanent structures are constructed for creating outdoor shade and shelter? Distictis buccinatoria was previously sold as Bignonia cherere, a well-known name amongst gardeners. It is a vigorous, rather heavy, evergreen climber that produces an abundance of tubular flowers from summer through to autumn. Each tubular flower is 7 – 8cm long, bright red with a slight purplish hue and a prominent yellow throat. Blooms are borne in drooping racemes 20 – 25cm long. The blooms contrast against the lush, leathery leaflets of the compound leaves. A single plant can spread far and wide provided a suitable means of support is available. Left to their own devices they can scramble to great heights (25m) up a tree, although this is not advisable. The Mexican blood trumpet grows best in a sunny position, preferring loamy, well-drained soil conditions. Add generous amounts of good compost to the planting hole and maintain a layer of organic mulch material over the root zone. During spring, summer and autumn apply a general garden fertiliser every six weeks to the root area. Keep this away from the stem of the plant. Prune back immediately after flowering – this can be as light or severe as is necessary to keep the climber in check and proportionate to the area where it is planted.
Use this attractive climber to cover pergolas, car ports, open patios, and garden arches. They also cover fences and boundary walls extremely efficiently provided that they are trained and supported continuously. Mexican blood trumpets are not self supporting climbers.
This plant still ranks as one of the showiest and most spectacular climbers that grow easily in a wide range of the diverse climatic regions found in South Africa. A mauve or purple flowered form, Distictis buccinatoria ‘Mrs. Rivers’, is also grown locally and is equally impressive.