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What is Asarina?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2018
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Asarina is a genus of flowering vines in the figwort family. Members of this genus are known as creeping snapdragons or chickabiddy. They are closely related to snapdragons and foxgloves and the flowers of all three look very similar. There are around 12 species in this genus and several have been domesticated for cultivation as ornamental plants in gardens around the world. Nurseries and garden supplies may carry seeds or seedlings and people can also grow this plant from cuttings.

This genus is native to North America, although it has been widely naturalized in other regions. It is a creeping plant, preferring growth environments with room to climb, like trellises or walls. The leaves are roughly triangular in shape and the plant produces very colorful flowers with two lips and a slightly trumpet-like shape. Asarina can be grown over arbors to provide shade for other plants.

These plants are somewhat tender, growing as perennials primarily in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones nine and 10. Some gardeners have success growing in cooler climate zones by cultivating Asarina in a sheltered and protected area, or growing it indoors to protect it from the cold weather. Outside its comfort zone, this plant can be grown as an annual. Providing it with ample fertilizer and planting as early as possible will give it time to mature into a large plant before the cold weather causes it to die off.

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Growing conditions for Asarina should include well-drained soil kept dry to medium-moist. The plants prefer full to partial sun and an area without excessive wind. Fertilizer can be provided in spring to promote the development of new growth, and deadheading old flowers will stimulate the production of more flowers, prolonging the blooming period. The plant can be pruned or trimmed as necessary to control its growth.

For gardeners in regions where the plant grows as a perennial, growing from cuttings is often the easiest way to propagate Asarina. Cuttings can also provide access to unusual and interesting cultivars that may not be available commercially. In regions where this plant only grows as an annual, getting seeds and giving them a head start indoors is recommended so people can get seedlings out as quickly as possible once the last chance of frost has passed. Seeds can be collected at the end of the year and saved in a cool dry place to sprout in the following spring or to trade with other gardeners.

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