Plant Collector: Tecomanthe montana

Pink and cream hanging bells of Tecomanthe montana

Pink and cream hanging bells of Tecomanthe montana

Most visitors tend to think that the dainty pink and cream trumpets mean this climber is a lapageria (Chilean bell flower) but far from it. Tecomanthe montana is a tender climber from New Guinea. We tried it in the garden and it survived a couple of years before it succumbed to winter. This plant is grown under complete cover though it has its roots in the ground. It is by far the showiest tecomanthe when in flower.

Apparently there are only five species of tecomanthe. Our own native form, T. speciosa, was found as a single plant on the Three Kings Island and has been saved by commercial production. It has much bigger leaves and is a very strong grower. Unless you train it along a horizontal frame, it tends to shoot up the tallest tree where it will produce its pale lemon trumpets right on top where you can’t see them. We also grow T. venusta under complete cover but it is even more tropical than T. montana and only occasionally flowers for us. When it does, its pink trumpets appear out of the gnarly bare wood of the climbing stems. We gave up on the Queensland species, T. hillii because it mildewed badly with us. All of the tecomanthes are forest climbers from the tropics or sub tropics. Montana came to us from former Pukeiti director, Graham Smith, who gathered the seed in New Guinea. It is not the easiest plant to get established but if you can find the right conditions, it is a winner in spring.

8 thoughts on “Plant Collector: Tecomanthe montana

  1. vic stuart

    Hi Abbie,

    What is a good web site/place to look for gardens to visit ( in this case the Middle East)

    Many thanks, Vic.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I doubt that there is just one website that is reliable internationally. Try Google. I know absolutely nothing about open gardens in the Middle East, I am afraid.

  2. nick

    Do you have any more information about Tecomanthe?? Wikipedia says that there are five species, but doesn’t mention T. montana, Is this just a variety of one of the other ones?? Any if material from Pukeiti have ever been put into commercial propagation? I’d love to find out where my plants originated from.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Yes, Pukeiti’s form of Tecomanthe montana was put into commercial propagation though we know of at least one other clone which was imported from Australia and also put into propagation and there may well be other clones. I seem to recall reading Wikipedia’s piece on tecomanthes when I wrote that piece but we decided that that we were happy to trust Graham Smith, former director of Pukeiti. He had it as Tecomanthe montana and we have not heard that it has changed or that it is a subspecies.

  3. nick

    Interesting, thanks for that. Any idea who was propagating it commercially??
    I got T. montana from Courier climbers in Tauranga and it has the smallest leaves of all the tecomanthes i’m growing – i’m curious to know if that’s the same as the Pukeiti clone . I’m also growing T. hillii and T. dendrophila both of which came from Parva plants.
    I’ve had the dendrophila the longest (6 or so years?) and still never seen a flower. It’s in a pot in a conservatory though, so that’s probably why.
    I think that wikipedia article is wrong. I’m still not sure if T. venusta and T. denrdophila are synonymous, but i’m sure there are more than five species.

  4. Steve

    Hi, the Tecomanthe montana is really beautiful..Any idea where i can obtain seeds of Tecomanthe montana from the web? Do you think it will thrive in the tropics?

    Thanks

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      It comes from the higher altitude tropics but we don’t know how it would go at lower altitudes – as far as we know it has not been great as a glasshouse subject which might suggest that it would not be easy. Because it is not self-fertile, you need two clones to get seed. We only have the one clone. I regret I have absolutely no idea at all where seeds may be available. You would have to try some of the gardening forums on the net.

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