Poet’s Eyes (Thunbergia alata)

Climbing plants are always pretty, but the most beautiful are those that, in addition to their leaves, give away their colorful flowers. The reason is quite clear, it can improve the appearance of any garden, front of house and even completely cover a wall in poor condition.

Of course, not all climbing plants have this potential to change and improve the view of a home, since they do not have the attractiveness that is usually sought and there are also many species that are climbers but tend to be weeds or weeds. Fortunately, what is known as the poet’s eyes is very interesting.


One that captivates the eye is Thunbergia alata, a climbing plant that is better known as poet’s eyes. It is ideal to have in places that we want to highlight because in addition to providing a green mantle it gives color and harmony.

In addition to being known as a poet’s eyes in some places, the vulgar name by which she is recognized is Susana de ojos negros.

In both cases we are talking about a climbing plant native to southern Africa and whose flowering occurs from mid-spring to late autumn, so it is possible to enjoy its orange flowers for several months.

The life of this plant exceeds two years and can reach an average height of two meters, although the largest specimens reach 3 meters in height. The flowering of this climber is very abundant and that is why it stands out in a green landscape.

The most common is that the flowers are orange, although it is possible to find white, yellow and blue varieties. The leaves are opposite and have a slightly serrated edge while the stems form whorls.

Once fall is over, the flowers drop but the plant can still be enjoyed as it retains its soft green foliage. If you still cannot differentiate the flower of this plant from another, it is quite easy because of its colors. You just have to look first at the characteristic yellow color, then go to the central part and see if this section is brown or not.

If it is, then you have a Thunbergia alata at your fingertips. Also, the shape of the leaves tends to be very similar to the tip of an arrow. The sowing of the plant is done from seeds and germination occurs about two weeks later. The transplant should be done during the spring.

Plant care

If you want to have the poet’s eyes plant at home, you should know that this plant needs sunlight, although it also adapts without problems to semi-shady places. During the summer, the plant should not be exposed to sunlight, so you can place it in a more protected place

The soil must be rich in organic matter, neutral and fresh, without forgetting that it must have good drainage. Even so, it is good to water moderately throughout the year as it is a plant that does not need too much water.

However, as the flowering stage approaches, it is advisable to increase watering, always taking care not to overdo it. For the plant to develop in optimal conditions, you can also fertilize every 15 days using a mineral fertilizer.

How to cultivate poet’s eyes at home?

Having this plant grown and propagated throughout the house and garden is something spectacular and beautiful. However, not everyone knows how to achieve its cultivation.

The main thing you have to understand is that this plant has the characteristics of vines, so it will need a structure to be able to adhere and expand according to the shape and place you want it to cover.

You can easily create a mesh-like structure and then attach it to a wall a few inches apart. Although you can also have it in a large pot and place this same structure inside the pot.

The latter is much more attractive and feasible, since there are seasons in the year where you have to protect the plant from the ambient temperature, so having it in a pot like this is much easier to move it to a more stable place.

Keep in mind that if you don’t have a trellis or fence, it doesn’t matter, the plant is capable of sticking to just about anything in its path, that includes posts, other plants, and dead logs.

Amount of sunlight

The plant has the particularity of adapting to spaces where they are receiving direct sunlight or being in semi-shade, you have this great advantage with the mentioned species. However, if you are looking for more flowers, then you should grow in full sun.

Of course you do not have to consider this, since you cannot leave it in a place where the sun shines on it most of the day. You should keep it in a place where it only receives 6 hours of direct sunlight.

It should be noted that for places where the climate is warm and with low humidity, you have to have it in semi-shady places.

Soil type

As always, you need a soil with good water drainage to prevent the roots and stem at their base from rotting. In the same way, the soil where the poet’s eye plant will be planted must be rich in organic matter.

This is essential for its growth and development, since its life and durability as a living wall depend on it.

It should be noted that the pH level of the soil has to be neutral. Although this does not limit people who want to have this plant, to use organic or universal fertilizer before proceeding with the planting.

Temperature and humidity

Moisture is usually not a big problem for this perennial species. However, you have to take great care of this aspect since in climates or areas where environmental conditions are very dry, you have to make sure that the humidity of the earth is constant.

In areas where the temperature is cold, the plant must be removed from the environment in which it is growing and away from the cold of winter. It is enough to move them inside the house when it is in winter.

Growth by seeds

Having this plant in your garden or on the outskirts of it is quite simple. You only have two options. The first one is to buy an already growing plant with a height of no more than 50 cm. The other option is to do it using the seeds of the plant itself.

Keep in mind that if you opt for the second option, you may get a bit more expensive, since it is a seed that is very difficult to collect. But in case you have the purchasing power to buy them, all you have to do is start with 6 seeds.

These should be sown inside your pot or placed in the ground where you want them to grow. Of course, you have to do it 8 weeks before the date on which the first frost will occur. Mandatory that this requirement is met.

In the same way, before proceeding with the planting of the seeds, you should soak the seeds that are large and hard in water, at least for a couple of days just before planting them.

An important point that you must always keep in mind is that the plant does not like to have the integrity or state of its roots disturbed, so it is better to start growing this species in peat or, failing that, in pots based on paper or some material of the same hardness and/ or rigidity.

To finish this section, when you are going to place the seeds in the pot or in the ground, keep in mind that you should do it at approximately 2 centimeters deep and wait for them to germinate within a maximum period of 3 weeks.

Plagues and diseases

This point is very important for most and especially those who have this species in the germination process, since the poet’s eye is not prone to damage caused by pests or diseases.

What is a fact is that air circulation, the amount of water and the excessive amount of sun can be factors that affect the integrity of the plant. However, this is not all.

There is an animal known as the whitefly, which is a potential problem that you should consider. Like mites that tend to damage the plant.

Related article:Whitefly plague

Therefore, always have some kind of insecticidal soap on hand to help you combat these two problems in case you notice that they are appearing. From the rest it could be said that the plant is free from any other problem.

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