What to Plant in February

The following is a list of vegetables and herbs that  you can plant in February in Sydney, a temperate zone. Just click on the name for the growing guide for each vegetable or herb:

Plant of the Month – The spectacular Clerodendrum thomsoniae ( bleeding heart vine)

Clerodendrum thomsoniae, or the bleeding heart plant is a tropical evergreen twining liana or vine that is native to west Africa, in the mint family lamiaceae (not to be confused with the members of the genus Dicentra, also called Bleeding heart). Its common name comes from the deep red flower that comes out of the pure white, five lobed calyx like a drop of blood.

The heart shaped, white balloon-like calyx is about 2.5cm in length and 8-20 of them are arranged in clusters, or cymes from the leaf axils. They are inflourences that hold the true flower that is 2 cm long. Each is a red, 5 lobed retro-flexed corolla with prominent stamens and style protruding, making them a spectacular sight when fully open.

Cymes of beautiful flowers of the stunning Bleeding heart vine.

The attractive oval, pointed leaves are arranged opposite each other and at right angles to the pairs. When in deeper shade that are a dark green but in full sun they are a lighter green colour.

The plant is a vigorous vine that can grow from 2.5-4.0 m with a width of 1-1.5 m if planted in the garden but can be kept to smaller specimen when supported in a pot.

The leaves of the Bleeding heart vine are a lighter green when they receive full sun in well lit situations.

While the white calyx will last for some time, changing in colour to a papery light brown, the corolla is short lived. If pollinated it will produce a small fruit holding 4 black seeds.

The flowers are fragrant and also attract bees.

The bleeding heart vine will flower profusely from spring to late summer in good conditions but some flowers can be seen all year round aside from winter when the plant becomes dormant and may drop some leaves.

the flower emerges from the calyx as a bud.

Site and Soil Requirements:

The bleeding heart vine prefers a warm, humid location with humus rich, fertile soil that is moist but well drained. It will grow well in soil that is mildly acidic to neutral i.e 6.5- 7.5 pH . If planting in a pot use a free draining quality potting mix and make sure that the pot has good drainage holes.

The selected site should be protected from strong winds and from frosts.

The ideal temperature for growing the bleeding heart vine is between 18-26 C (up to 30 C with adequate watering) and a minimum temperature of 10-13 C.

Light:

Select a site where it can receive full morning sun to part shade in afternoons. This is especially so in Sydney’s harsh summers where the flowers can be protected from the hot afternoon sun. As good light is required for flowering bear this in mind when positioning your plant in the garden.

Support:

As a vigorous vine the bleeding heart vine requires the support of a trellis or other structure for it to climb. Unlike other vines, it does not have tendrils and so can be more easily trained and managed. It can also be pruned into the form a shrub if space is not available however its natural form is that of a rambling liana. Its twining habit makes it perfect for restricted supports as opposed to arbors .

Water:

The bleeding heart vine has high water needs in the hotter months and while not allowing it to become soggy, it needs to be kept moist. Water once the top is dry to the touch and water freely when it it is growing or flowering, especially when it is hot. Mulch around the plant if grown in the garden keeping it away from the stems.

Less water is needed in winter when the plant is dormant so water sparingly and just enough to stop the plant drying out completely.

Pruning:

Flower buds are produced on the current seasons growth. Bleeding heart vine should be pruned in late winter and early spring before the new growth emerges.

The stunning red corolla fully open with its prominent stamens and style.

Propagation:

The Bleeding heart vine is easy to propagate from stem cuttings taken in late spring and late summer. Cut a 17cm piece of stem just below a leaf node leaving a couple of leaves and trim to just above a leaf node at the top. Place into water or into a mix of potting mix and sand and keep moist until the roots form. This should take about 2 weeks. Then pot the small plant and keep moist in a warm location.

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