How to grow Purple Bell Vine (Rhodochiton atrosanguineum)

July 9, 2024

A weathered, ghostly-white tree with bare branches stands against a blue sky. Vines with dark green leaves and vibrant pink flowers, including the striking Purple Bell Vine (Rhodochiton atrosanguineum), entwine around the tree. Dense greenery forms the background.
Rhodochiton purple bells, also known as the purple bell vine, is a stunning flowering plant with purple tubular-shaped blooms. This showy vine is native to Mexico and is a popular choice for adding color and beauty to gardens and landscapes.

When we travel, I make sure my family endures as many garden visits as I think I can get away with.  They act like I am tedious, but I know they secretly enjoy it.  

On this recent trip, I drug them to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden. The con was easier due in part to the existence of a CowLicks Creamery outpost in the garden (we had discovered the joy of their ice cream the night before—I died for the spiced lavender honey flavor and the spumoni).

A cluster of Rhodochiton atrosanguineum, or Purple Bell Vine, with pink and deep purple bell-shaped flowers hangs from a vine against a backdrop of green leaves and a tree trunk. The elongated petals differ in shades, creating a striking contrast with the vibrant grass around them.
Purple bell vine, also known as Rhodochiton atrosanguineus, is a delicate vine with deep purple, bell-shaped flowers (that are more than a little phallic). This climbing plant is native to Mexico and Central America and is a popular choice for adding a splash of color to gardens and trellises. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and can grow up to 10 feet tall.

Wandering around a corner in the garden, I was introduced to Purple Bell Vine (Rhodochiton atrosanguineum). An upended tree’s roots had been left rather than cleared, forming a mini stumpery. The vine was gracefully growing over the whole mess. It was gasp-worthy, and now I want to have a go at growing it in my own garden.

Bright pink flowers hang down from the thin, red-tinged stems of the Rhodochiton atrosanguineum, also known as Purple Bell Vine, against a backdrop of twisted branches and rocky terrain. The sky is partially visible in the upper part of the image, adding contrast to the vibrant blossoms.
To grow Purple Bell Vine from seed, one can start by soaking the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting them in a well-draining soil mix. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, and provide the plant with full sun to partial shade. With proper care and attention, Purple Bell Vine can quickly grow and produce beautiful purple bell-shaped flowers in one season.

Thankfully it is an annual that is purported to be easily grown from seed. I’ve seen Matt grow it in his garden (though he does have a glass house – I am nevertheless encouraged). It is a vigorous climber capable of reaching heights of 10-12 feet in a single growing season under optimal conditions.

I found seeds at Swallowtail Gardens and I also found small plants at Annies Annuals (who call it a tender perennial).  

Have you grown this? Is it worth 3.49$ for 10 seeds (don’t answer, I know the answer)? Yes, it is worth it, even if they only grow half as well as the plant in these pictures.

I am curious about success rates from seed to get a good-sized healthy plant in New England.   Will I be able to grow something as stunning as I saw in Mendocino in one season in Massachusetts?  Looking forward to hearing from those of you who know a bit more about this plant.  – R

A Purple Bell Vine with clusters of small, pink, bell-shaped flowers and heart-shaped green leaves climbs a large, textured tree trunk. The bright flowers contrast with the rough bark, creating a vibrant and natural scene.
Purple bell vine (also sometimes called Black-Podded Vine) is an annual in areas cooler than zones 9-11. For the rest of us, it can be overwintered indoors or grown as a container plant. I’m eager to try it and see how happy it is indoors.

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  1. commonweeder says:

    It certainly is a beauty. I only wish I had experience with it, but I guess I have to settle for the beauties of Grandpa Otts morning glories which even self seed here on my chilly hill.

  2. Mark and Gaz says:

    Thats lovely, really is a beauty, the contrast with the tree above is great.

  3. Awesome explanation on this topic. I like the way you presented it. It makes me think that I’m going to revive my blog site.

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