Highlight: Parrot's beak

Sheltered parrot's beak can still bloom.

Contributed photo

The Latin name is easy to confuse with the sacred flowers of an aquatic perennial from tropical regions of Asia, or a funny looking British sport coupe.

Lotus berthelotii is a diminutive terrestrial perennial known as parrot's beak. It gets only about a foot high, and spreads to only two or three feet wide. It cascades nicely from hanging pots, and is actually rarely planted out in the garden.

The bright reddish orange flowers bloom mostly in the warmth of spring and summer, but can bloom any time they are neither too hot nor too cool. They are about an inch long and pea-shaped, but they really look like parrot beaks. The finely textured gray foliage is comprised of small compound leaves that are divided into three or five very narrow leaflets that look like hemlock needles.

Parrot's beak likes full sun and good drainage. It rots easily if soil is always damp.

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In hanging pots, it is usually sheltered from frost through winter or can at least be moved to shelter prior to frost. Parrot's beak can cascade nicely over the rims of urns of mixed perennials or annuals, but dies back through winter where such urns are too exposed. It is often grown as a warm season annual.

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