Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, May 2007
Tropaeolum tricolorum, by Alfred Robbins

This family interests me from the annual bedding nasturtiums to the climbing and scrambling perennials.

I have at the moment eight varieties of the perennials and I find some of them a real challenge to bring into leaf. Their natural habitat is Chile and Argentina, so most experience some cold dry winter months. This little beauty, tricololorum, has been in full flower since the beginning of February in a cold greenhouse sharing the space with alpines.  I use a soil based compost with about a ⅓ grit added. The first sign of life is usually about middle to end of December. I treat it as a normal pot plant, feeding it at half strength every two weeks during its growing season. The foliage starts to die back about the end of May when I repot the corm for its summer slumber and no water is used when dormant. When you have this little gem, the winter months are never dull or drab.