Cobaea: Cathedral bell, cup and saucer vine

Height 3-6m (10-20ft)

Planting distance 60cm (2ft)

Flowers early summer to mid autumn

Ordinary well-drained soil

Sunny sheltered position

Half-hardy annual

Cathedral bell (Cobaea scandens) is an annual climber, ideal for providing quick decorative cover for pergolas, trelliswork and other forms of support. The plants may reach 6m (20ft) high, growing vertically at first and then spreading at the top.

From early summer until mid autumn an abundance of purple bell-shaped flowers appear. These are seen against a backdrop of mid to dark green leaves. The variety ‘Alba’ has greenish-white flowers.


Sow the seeds under glass – one seed in each 7.5cm (3in) pot of potting compost – in early to mid spring. Keep at a temperature of 18°C (64°F).

Harden off the plants before planting them outdoors in early summer. Choose a sunny sheltered position with ordinary well-drained soil. Provide pea sticks, wire mesh or trellis for the plants’ tendrils to cling to.

Pests and diseases

Watch out for aphids.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
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