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Canary Creeper Flowering Vine

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Flowering Vines

Canary Creeper isn't actually named for the flower's resemblance to a canary.

Photo: © Marie Iannotti

Overview and Description:

Sometimes it's very easy to see how a plant got its common name. Canary Creeper has yellow flowers that resemble a canaries feathered wings. - and lots of them. Romantic, but that's not how it got its name. The real source of its name is Canary Creeper was discovered growing in the Canary Islands.

The vine itself is rather delicate and doesn't reach great heights, but it clings easily and makes a nice, unusual climber in a garden. Canary Creeper is related to nasturtiums, which also H ave brightly colored flowers. And, like nasturtiums, the flowers, leaves and seeds are all edible, with a lively, tangy flavor.

  • Flowers: 1 to 1 1/2 inch flowers are bright yellow with slight touches of red near their centers. They have 2 "ruffled" petals over 3 smaller petals.

  • Leaves: Bright green, deeply lobed, delicate leaves.

Botanical Name:

Tropaeolum peregrinum (Pronounced tro-PEE-o-lum per-uh-GREE-num)

Common Names:

Canary Creeper, Canary Bird Vine

Hardiness Zones:

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and higher. Canary Creeper is usually grown as an annual and is frost tender.

Sun Exposure

Full sun to partial shade.

Mature Size:

4 - 10' (h) x 12 - 24" (w) The size of the vine will depend on the growing conditions. It prefers warm temperatures and warm climates will provide a longer growing season.

Bloom Period

Starts blooming in mid-summer and continues through Fall.

Suggested Varieties:

Although there are many varieties of the common nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus, I don't know of any hybrids of Canary Creeper Tropaeolum peregrinum. If you do, I'd love to hear about them.

Design Suggestions:

Canary creeper is such a delicate looking vine and flower that you usually see it growing by itself, on trellises. It climbs best on thin structures that it can easily wrap around. You could even use string, to train it along a railing or porch.

Even though the yellow flowers are bright, they can fade at a distance. Growing them near complementary colors like blues, purples and deep reds, will provide a background to highlight them.

Growing Tips:

Soil: Canary Creeper likes a neutral to slightly acidic soil pH between 6.1 and 7.2. It does not need a rich soil, although some organic matter will keep it growing and blooming without additional fertilizer.

Planting: Canary Creeper is usually grown from seed. As with most vines, it's hard to keep them from getting tangled with other plants, so nurseries don't tend to carry them.

The seeds of have a hard shell and benefit from scarification, before planting. The easiest method is to soak them overnight. If you're really ambitious, you can rub them gently with some sand paper and then soak them over night. Seeds should germinate within 10 days.

Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep. You can direct sow, after all danger of frost, or start them indoors, about 6 - 8 weeks before your last frost date. Give the young plants a regular weekly watering of at least 1 - 2 inches, while getting established. Once they take off, you can ease back on the water and they become quite drought tolerant.

If direct sown, thin seedlings to about 1 foot apart, when the are a 4 - 5 inches tall.

Plants started indoors will bloom earlier, but if you have a long growing season, they may give out in mid-summer. To hedge your bets, starting a few plants indoors and direct seeding when you transplant will give you the best of both.

Maintenance:

Canary Creeper does best when the soil is a little dry and not too rich. Water only when the soil has had time to completely dry out and don't bother with any fertilizer, unless the leaves start to look yellow. Too much fertilizer will mean less flowers.

There is no need to deadhead the flowers or trim the vines. Just enjoy.

Pests & Problems:

Few pests bother Canary Creeper. Aphids can sometimes be a problem. If you notice them, hose them off or use insecticidal soap.

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