Lotus berthelotii a.k.a. parrot’s beak is a gem in the gardening world. In the wild, this superb species persists as few specimens and in some regions, it is almost extinct. Although pretty rare in its native habitat, the parrot’s beak plant enjoys lots of popularity in cultivation.
It is safe to say that, once you have at least one of this gorgeous species in your family of ornamental plants, you will surely become a more experienced and fulfilled gardener.
Lotus berthelotii is an evergreen species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae family and the Lotus genus. It is a trailing perennial that has attractive and slender branches covered in fine, silvery-grey, needle-like foliage.
This unique-looking plant is endemic to the Canary Islands of Spain but it can also occur naturally in the Cape Verde Islands. The most common names for this unique-looking plant include the parrot’s (or parrot) beak, lotus vine flower, coral gem, and pelican beak.
Are you curious to learn more about this one-of-a-kind plant that has such a curious name – Lotus berthelotii a.k.a. Parrot’s beak? Keep reading our full guide!
About Parrot’s Beak
- Besides the ordinary red-flowered specimen, the parrot’s beak plant comes along with a cultivar that features golden-orange flowers. This cultivar is also pretty popular in the gardening world, so you might want to check it out!
- In 1884, the parrot’s beak plant has become an “exceedingly rare” classed species. Since then, cultivating and collecting this endangered plant might probably hasten its decline.
- Prized for its beauty and various ornamental purposes, the parrot’s beak plant is one of the recipients of the well-known and prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
- The parrot’s beak plant can make for a perfect addition to rock gardens, Mediterranean gardens, traditional gardens, drought-tolerant gardens, wall gardens, and hanging baskets, but it can be successfully grown in containers as well. The parrot beak plant is also great as a small-scale ground cover.
- This flower will look absolutely wonderful if you plant it near other species that have similar growing requirements. Some of the most common companions are Aeonium ‘Sunburst’, Bindweed, Echeveria agavoides ‘Lipstick’, or Sea Lavender.
- In the past, before going extinct in the Canary Islands, people thought that sunbirds were the original pollinators of the parrot’s beak plant. Nowadays, the flowers of this plant attract non-specialist flower-visiting birds like the Canary Islands chiffchaff.
- Even if the Parrot’s beak is very appealing to the eye, it will not attract deer to your garden. It will, however, attract hummingbirds and other beneficial pollinators.
Parrot’s Beak Features: An Overview
- The Parrot’s beak plant belongs to the Lotus genus. Depending on the taxonomic authority, this genus contains between 70 and 150 accepted species. Other nice-looking species from this genus are L. alpinus, L. balticus, L. corniculatus, L. dorycnium, L. glinoides, L. japonicus, and L pedunculatus.
- One of the most adaptable varieties of Lotus Berthelotii is Lotus Amazon Sunset. This type of parrot’s beak plant blooms easily and doesn’t require a lot of attention to thrive. Another interesting variety is, Lotus maculates ‘Gold Flame’. This parrot’s beak variety thrives in full sun but can survive in partial shade as well. It can also tolerate some neglect, especially in terms of watering. If you are looking for an ornamental foliage plant, this cultivar is a perfect choice, as it is not the best bloomer.
- This species is an evergreen prostrate shrub or subshrub. It has a creeping or trailing growth habit. The plant can reach only up to 12 inches (20 cm) in height but between 2 and 3 feet (60-90 cm) in width.
- Lothus Berthelotii can also be grown as a vine as it can be trained to climb walls, fences, and trellises and it can also help prevent soil erosion.
- Its foliage has numerous leaves that each consist of 3 to 5 slender, needle-like, (1-2 cm) long, and silvery-grat leaflets. The leaflets show up in hypnotic whorls. They are soft, appearing densely covered with fine, tiny, silvery hairs.
- The Parrot’s beak can bloom from early spring through early summer. During this time, it will produce many pea-like, upward-facing, bright crimson with orange or sometimes yellowish-orange flowers that measure up to one inch (2.5 cm) in length.
- The blossoms of this plant look very exotic and resemble parrot beaks, hence its common name. Some believe that this flower shape is an adaptation for bird pollination.
Growing Parrot’s Beak
The parrot’s beak is a tropical plant that grows healthy and happy in as much sunlight as it can get. This plant will be thankful if you manage to find a special spot where it can experience lots of bright and direct light, usually at least six hours of it each day.
In case you live in a region where the summer months are too harsh, we suggest you opt for a location to place your plant that can provide it with some shade in the second part of the day.
When it comes to temperatures, the parrot’s beak plant is a bit picky. However, the plant will not cause you any trouble as long as you meet its particular demands. Which are not as hard to fulfil as most gardeners say. Indeed, this tender plant is winter-hardy only in the USDA zones 10 to 12.
Last update on 2023-08-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you live outside of its hardy areas, you can keep your parrot’s beak in a greenhouse and it will do just fine. And if you do not have a greenhouse, do not worry! You can always grow your plant in a pot and move it indoors before the temperatures drop below 45 °F (7 °C).
In general, the parrot’s beak plant will bloom nicely in those areas where springs and summers are cooler. When the temperatures begin to soar, this flowering plant will go dormant and will not need as much attention as during its period of interest.
In terms of pest infestations, the parrot’s beak plant might encounter some issues during its lifetime from time to time. The most common intruders that might bother your plant are aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.
If you notice any suspect presence on your parrot’s beak lotus, you can handle the infestation by applying a horticultural product, such as neem oil, regularly until you see no sign of the pests. In poorly drained soils, this plant, like many other tropical plants, can develop root rot and fungal infections. To avoid this problem, make sure you read our watering section.
Planting Parrot’s Beak
The most important factor in the caring routine of your parrot’s beak lotus will be its growing medium. This fellow will benefit from a garden or potting mix that comes along with very sharp drainage. You can also improve the overall drainage by adding some sand to the potting soil to increase grittiness.
The parrot’s beak plant will appreciate you if you spoil it with fertilizers regularly during its active growing seasons. That being said, make sure you feed this plant biweekly in the spring and summer. We recommend you use a water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer.
Still, if you prefer, you can also fertilize your parrot’s beak plant with a slow-release product at the beginning of spring.
If you want to grow your parrot’s beak plant in a container, look for one that has one or more drainage holes at the bottom. In this situation, you will also have to repot your plant every now and then to give it enough space to develop.
This plant tends to outgrow its pot once every year or so. When this happens, you must transplant your parrot’s beak plant into another pot that is slightly bigger than the current one.
Due to its spreading habit, the parrot’s beak plant can become somewhat leggy with time. You can prune it during its active growing period to bring it back to shape or just to maintain it at a certain size.
Likewise, it would be to your benefit to remove all the spent flowers whenever you notice them. Deadheading your plant may help it boost its blooming in general.
Watering Parrot’s Beak
Although the parrot’s beak lotus is a bit fussy when it comes to water, this should not scare or intimidate you! The great news is that you will immediately observe signs of an inappropriate watering routine because this plant will begin to drop leaves. If this happens, it might indicate that your plant receives too little or too much water in general.
To avoid these extremes, you need to always check the growing medium of your Parrot’s beak in-between waterings. The ideal time to water your plant would be when the top layer of soil has dried out entirely. That’s all you have to do! This watering technique is perfect for most houseplants and it is known in the gardening world as the ‘soak and dry’ technique.
Propagating Parrot’s Beak
If one Parrot’s beak plant, with its crazy tendency to spread, is not enough for your preferences, no worries! You can always propagate this beauty to make more specimens for your garden or home in little to no time. There are two ways to propagate this plant, from stem cuttings and seeds, and both are more than easy to get through.
Propagating through stem cuttings
The best time to start propagating your Parrot’s beak plant would be in early spring when it typically begins its active growth. Look for healthy stems and cut about 3 to 4 inches (7.5-10 cm) off each with a sharp knife.
After this step, you can dip the cut end of each stem cutting in rooting hormone to boost the overall root development. However, this is totally optional and it will show the same results, but after a longer period.
Plant the cuttings in individual pots filled with a moist, well-draining potting mix or directly into the ground. Make sure the cuttings receive lots of light and warm temperatures. You will also have to water the cuttings whenever their soil has dried out completely. With proper care, roots will form in a month or so.
Growing from seeds
If you want to start your Parrot’s beak plants from seed, you must first collect them from the spent flowers. Once you have the seeds, you should wait for the winter to pass to begin the process. When this happens, you can sow the seeds indoors, in a pot, or just outdoors in the garden. The seedlings will emerge in little to no time, but they will usually exhibit flowers only after their first year of growth, in the next spring.
If you’ve reached the end of the article, it means that you are an expert in growing Lotus Bethelotii a.k.a the parrot’s beak plant. This is a very exciting plant to grow in your home or garden. It is relatively easy-going but it does have some peculiar needs.
If you are a big fan of special plants with very nice foliage and that produce attractive blooms, the parrot’s beak lotus is a perfect choice. This plant will surely surprise you with its delicate flowers. You can use it to cover less-attractive parts of your garden, you can train it to climb walls and fences, and you can also grow it in hanging baskets.
Its attractive appearance and versatile growth habits are a great mix that will make Lotus Berthelotii the most interesting plant in your collection. If you start propagating this plant, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family.
Are you growing Lothus Berthelotii a.k.a Parrot’s beak? Share your experience with our growing gardening community in the comment section!