How to Grow Canary Creeper Vine

Tropaeolum peregrinum (Canary creeper) flower, Les jardins de vertume, september
Francois De Heel/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Growing flowering vines, like a canary creeper, is an easy way to add both height and texture to your garden. 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 have brightly colored flowers. Like nasturtiums, the flowers, leaves, and seeds of the canary creeper vine are all edible, with a lively, tangy flavor.

Sometimes, it's very easy to see how a plant got its common name. While the canary creeper has yellow flowers that resemble a canary's feathered wings, the real reason for its name is that the canary creeper vine is native to the Canary Islands. Best planted in spring after any chance of frost has passed, the vine will grow quickly and can add up to 10 to 12 feet in length in just one year.

Botanical Name Tropaeolum peregrinum
Common Name  Canary creeper, canary bird flower
Plant Type  Vine
Mature Size  10–12 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure  Full sun
Soil Type  Moist but well-drained
Soil pH  Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zone  10–11 (USDA)
Native Area  Canary Islands
Toxicity Non-toxic

Canary Creeper Care

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, and you could even use string to train it along a railing or porch. With the proper care, you can expect your vines to start blooming in mid-summer and continue on through fall. They are frost-tender and will slow down as the weather cools.

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

Light

Plant your canary creeper vine in a spot that boasts full sun. At least six to eight hours of bright light a day will guarantee the most vigorous growth and best blooms. In warmer areas, the vine will also do well in partial shade.

Soil

Canary creeper likes a neutral to slightly acidic soil pH between 6.1 and 7.2. It does not need rich soil, although some organic matter will keep it growing and blooming without the addition of fertilizer. Whatever soil mixture you plant it in should be well-draining to prevent root rot or any fungal diseases.

Water

Canary creeper does best when its soil is a little dry. Water only when the soil has had time to completely dry out in-between drenchings, and make sure not to water too frequently (about once a week in normal climates works just fine). Be sure to aim your watering source at the roots of the plant so you don't cause excess moisture in the plant's dense foliage

Temperature and Humidity

The canary creeper vine is tropical, so consistently warm temperatures are optimal. If planting from seed, the vine will need temperatures over 65 degrees Fahrenheit in order to germinate. Generally, a consistent summer temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit will have your vine performing its best. Additionally, the vine tolerates humidity but has no special needs.

Fertilizer

Do not fertilize your canary creeper vine unless absolutely necessary under circumstances like yellowing or dropping leaves. Generally, the plant will perform much better if feed with an organic compost—store-bought fertilizer can often result in a reduction of blooms.

How to Grow Canary Creeper From Seed

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 plants' seeds have a hard shell and can benefit greatly from scarification before planting. The easiest method is to soak them overnight, but if you're really ambitious you can rub them gently with some sandpaper and then soak them overnight.

You can directly sow the seed outdoors after all risk of frost has passed, or start them ahead of time indoors, about six to eight weeks before your final frost. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and soak them weekly, providing at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Seeds should germinate in about 10 days—once they take off, they should be quite drought-tolerant.

If direct sown, thin seedlings to about 1 foot apart once they've reached 4 to 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 worlds.

Common Pests/Diseases

Many parts of canary creeper vines are edible and therefore enticing to common garden pests. You may encounter issues with insects like aphids and whiteflies, or spot signs of things like caterpillars, slugs, and snails. To rid your plant of smaller insects, try blasting it with water—if that doesn't work, you can try treating your plant with horticultural oil, like neem oil. As for larger pests, like snails and caterpillars, you may just have to pick them off manually.

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