Iochroma coccinea

Iochroma coccinea.
Iochroma coccinea. / SUR
  • An evergreen shrub from Peru, related to Brugmansia, with clusters of bright red and orange tubular flowers that continue opening from early spring until autumn

Iochroma is a genus of around 34 species of shrubs and small trees native to the forests of South America.

The species I. coccinea is evergreen and originates from Peru and is commonly called Red Bells and the Scarlet Tube Flower.

It is a relative of Brugmansia, also a member of the Solanceae family, and as poisonous.

It will quickly form a large shrub up to three metres tall with wide, glossy green leaves and clusters of red, elongated, tubular flowers which resemble those of some fuchsia species.

The blooms, which are scarlet or coral on the outside and orange on the inside, have long stamens and attract bees and butterflies.

Red Bells has a long flowering period which starts in late spring and will continue until the weather becomes cold in late autumn.

Being a forest plant it does not like excessive heat, prefers dappled shade and although it will flower during the summer, the best display comes with cooler temperatures in autumn.

It is not drought resistant and will need regular watering during dry spells. Nor is it frost hardy and will benefit from protection during the winter.

However it will tolerate clay soils.

Red Bells flowers on new wood so it can be cut back hard immediately after flowering.

It is a popular plant for topiary as it responds well to trimming, and it also makes an excellent patio plant.

Propagation is by semi-ripe wood cuttings at the end of spring or beginning of summer; it will root quickly from green stems. Cuttings taken from woodier growth are much harder to root.