Useful information

Winged tunbergia: varieties, cultivation, reproduction

Thunbergia winged (Thunbergia alata) in most countries of the world it is known under the name Black-eyed Suzanne, this name she received for a dark eye in the center of a bright flower. The plant originates from the tropics of East Africa, but has easily spread to other parts of the continent, so the place of origin is assumed. While Africans refer to her as one of the local attractions, and even have repeatedly placed her image on postage stamps, in such remote parts of the world as Asia, Australia, the islands of the Malay Archipelago and Hawaii, they are fighting with her as an invasive weed. ... But at the same time, they do not forget about decorative use - it is very good!

Winged tunbergia Arizona Dark Red on the fields of NK-Russian vegetable garden

Name Thunbergia the plant received in 1780 from the botanist Rezius as a tribute to the Swedish botanist Peter Karl Thunberg (1743-1828), who collected about 300 samples of previously unknown plants at the Cape of Good Hope. Species name Thunbergia alata the plant received from the German botanist Boger much later, in 1825, when the plant was brought from Mauritius to England. Interestingly, it was the variety with creamy flowers rather than the orange ones that predominate in this species. This is how Europe met Black Eyed Suzanne.

Translated from latin alatus means winged. Most likely, this name was given to the plant for the paired stipules located at the base of the petioles, and possibly for the fruits, which, when split, somewhat resemble wings.

In Africa, the plant grows equally well on forest edges and in dry open spaces, sometimes along roads in settlements. Climbs trees or creeps along the ground and braids vegetation.

Thunbergia winged (Thunbergia alata) belongs to the acanthus family (Acanthaceae)... This is a perennial plant with a height of about 1.5 m (on a support - up to 2 m), forming many climbing stems and growing up to 1 m wide. Leaves are bright green, cordate or spear-shaped, 2.5-10 cm long, rarely serrated along the edge, softly pubescent, on long petioles having two petiolate small stipules at the base. The flowers are axillary, on long pedicels are located singly in the axils of the leaves. They have a small swollen calyx enclosed in 2 peaked bracts, the corolla up to 4 cm in diameter is an inclined tube and a limb of 5 wide, notched orange (less often white) petals, with a brown-violet or almost black eye in the center. The fruits are spherical, with a long beak, which is often compared in shape to that of a bird.

Thunbergia winged, seedsThunbergia winged, fruits and seeds

In warm regions, the plant blooms all year round, in temperate regions - all summer. In central Russia, this perennial plant is grown as an annual. It is not cold-resistant, frosts even at -1оС are detrimental to the plant.

Winged tunbergia varieties

Natural forms of tunbergia with a winged eye have yellow-orange flowers with a dark tube inside, occasionally the flowers are white. The cultivars are often hybrids with other ornamental tunbergia species.

Currently, the most common are:

  • Variety series Blashing susio - includes pastel shades of cream, salmon, peach and red with a dark eye. The height of the plants is from 90 to 150 cm.
  • Variety series Susio series - includes colors orange, light yellow, white with a peephole, light yellow and white without a peephole. Plants are taller, up to 2 m.
  • Variety Salmon shades has flowers from cream to salmon color. Height - 120-150 cm.
  • Arizona dark red - has flowers of different shades, from orange to wine red. Height 120-180 cm.
  • African Suset - variety up to 2 m tall, with flowers in the colors of "African sunset" - from red to apricot, with a burgundy eye;
  • Superstar orange - flowers are bright orange in color with a dark eye;
  • Orange beauty - flowers of different shades of orange, plant height - up to 2 m.
  • Sunny lemon star - Lemon yellow flowers with a peephole. Height from 1.5 m, in good conditions it can reach 2.5 m.
Thunbergia winged LemonWinged Tunbergia Orange BeautyWinged Thunbergia African Sunset

Reproduction of winged tunbergia

Tunbergia is propagated by winged seeds, more often by seedlings. Seeds germinate easily in the dark in humus, with the addition of sand, moderately moist soil under glass or film. They can be sown from February to April. At a temperature of + 21 ... + 24 ° C, seeds germinate for 6-10 days. After the appearance of the first true leaves, the temperature of the content is somewhat reduced, to + 18 ... + 20 ° C, the humidity is reduced. Immediately begin to feed with a weak solution of a complex mineral fertilizer with a predominance of nitrogen (75-100 mg per 1 liter of water).

The grown seedlings dive into pots with a diameter of 13 cm, 2-3 pieces each, maintain the temperature within + 13 ... + 20оС with good air ventilation. They give support. To enhance branching, the seedlings are pinched over the 3-4th pair of leaves. Before planting in open ground, the seedlings are hardened at a temperature of + 10 ... + 12 ° C.

At all stages of growing, seedlings need good lighting, powerful supplementary lighting with phytolamps is needed.

Flowering occurs 90-110 days after sowing, in June.

Sowing in open ground in May is possible, but then there is a risk that the crops will be frozen. In addition, flowering will come much later. If the summer is cold and rainy, the growth of the plant stops.

If there are conditions for the winter maintenance of tunbergia (light windowsill of southern exposure, or artificial supplementary lighting), then you can sow seedlings in August and keep them indoors in winter (see Winged Tunbergia). Such plants, transplanted in late May - early June into open ground, bloom earlier and bloom richer.


Growing conditions... Thunbergia is thermophilic, needs sun, but can grow in light shade. In our climate, it is better that there is no shade and the plant is protected from cold winds.

The soil Tunbergia needs fertile, drained, preferably calcified. Before planting, superphosphate is introduced into the pits, and then the planted plants are mulched with compost. Seedlings are planted at a distance of 30 cm.

Top dressing... For abundant flowering, it is recommended to feed the tunbergia every 2 weeks with a complex mineral fertilizer with a composition of N: P: K = 3: 1: 5, 2: 3: 2 is permissible. Mulch with a small layer of compost 2-3 times per summer.

Watering... Watering, despite the drought resistance of the plant, is moderate, but regular. During dry periods - every day. Otherwise, tunbergia loses some of its foliage and quickly fades away. Although, when watering is resumed, flowering is restored. And unsightly parts can be cut off, this will only stimulate the growth of new shoots.

Pests... Tunbergia can be affected by aphids, spider mites, whiteflies.

Winged Thunbergia Arizona Dark RedWinged Thunbergia Arizona Dark Red

Use in landscape design

Winged Tunbergia is one of the most spectacular annual lianas. Its joyful flowers will cheer you up from June to the first autumn frost. This is a wonderful plant for vertical landscaping, and its appearance depends on the support you choose. It can be a mesh on the south or southeast side of the buildings - then you will get a low wall of tunbergia. If you give it a single small bamboo support, up to 0.5 m, height - you get a "fountain" of hanging ends of the stems. But the most beautiful are the pyramids and obelisks, in which there are 3-4 pillars fixed from above together, as well as low arches. It perfectly decorates stumps from felled trees.

Thunbergia is good for side curtains and hedges. And if you do not give support, you can start it up from the south along the nearby bushes that have faded in the spring, and even better - on conifers. But here you need to show artistic taste and caution so as not to destroy the plant that has sheltered it.

Another use is for planting in containers (hanging baskets, garden pots). Black-eyed Suzanne will cheerfully wink her eye and in container compositions with other plants.

Photo varieties: Rita Brilliantova