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Lapageria is a genus of plant that is part of the Philesiaceae family. It consists of only one species, Lapageria rosea, but there are many cultivars, or varieties, of this plant that are native to Chile. These plants feature bell-shaped flowers that hang upside down from a vine. They are ideal for growing on trellises or along walls. Most are susceptible to insect damage, especially from mealybugs and aphids.
This genus is named after Empress Josephine Tascher de la Pagerie, who was the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Commonly, the plant is called the bellflower, or the Chilean bellflower, since it is the national plant of Chile. It is also referred to as copihue. Some of the cultivars of Lapageria rosea include the songbird mix, blue bird, and alba.
The cultivars differ by the color of the flower. Lapageria rosea features pinkish-red flowers, while the alba cultivar produces white flowers. The blue bird cultivar has sky-blue flowers and a creamy-white throat, while the blue cultivar has a darker blue or purplish-blue flower and a yellow center. A multicolored variety of Lapageria rosea is songbird mix. It features white, purple, and lavender flowers.
A bellflower is an evergreen climbing shrub that grows about 13 feet (4 m) in height and spreads about 8 feet (2.5 m). The foliage consists of dark green leaves that are attached to twining stems. At regular intervals, bell-shaped flowers sprout from the stems.
To successfully grow the bellflower, it is recommended to plant it in well-draining soil that is acidic to neutral in pH. The soil can be loamy, sandy, or clay. Generally, the area in which the bellflower is planted should be sheltered and shaded from the sun. Applying a water soluble fertilizer every three months aids in flower growth.
Bellflowers are commonly infested with mealybugs and aphids. Mealybugs are oval pink insects that feed on the sap of plants. They cause the yellowing and distortion of leaves, and stunt the growth of new foliage. Aphids are pear-shaped and are usually green. They feed on the leaves, causing them to yellow and curl.
Both mealybugs and aphids secret a sticky residue called honeydew. It serves as a growth medium for the sooty mold fungus. If left untreated, the fungal spores will multiply and eventually cover entire branches in a black coating, causing the plant to die. Applying insecticidal soap to the plant will reduce aphid and mealybug infestation.
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