It is a caudiciform plant, meaning it develops a type of enlarged, swollen root known as a caudex in its native habitat. It is a fast-growing small shrub that typically grows in clumps ranging from 2 to 5 feet in size. This plant prefers full sun to semi-shade, although it needs shade in places with extremely hot climates. It requires moderate water and can also tolerate dry conditions. This species is native to Argentina and Chile.
It has bright yellow or orange blooms with five petals, which are produced on branched clusters during late spring and summer. The flowers stand at the top of the stems and sometimes grows up to 8 inches long.
Tropaeolum polyphyllum is a strongly cold-susceptible plant and its tubers are winter-hardy to around 30s F only. This is best grown in temperate zones, preferably USDA Zone 9-11, with Pot culture the best option for cold regions.
When it comes to care, one should water sparingly in the pot with well-draining soil and to allow it to dry between watering. Fertilize this plant every other month during its growth period with a balanced fertilizer. One should give it some light pruning every once in a while, removing the old rosettes, in order to promote growth of new foliage.
Pest and disease problems do not occur very often with Tropaeolum polyphyllum, but it is more susceptible to root fungus and fungal diseases if it is grown in humid conditions. Occasional whitefly, aphids, or mealybugs may also be a problem.
Overall, Tropaeolum polyphyllum is an easy-care caudiciform plant suitable for garden beds or larger pots, and can do very well in full sun or a semi-shade location. With minimal work, it will provide beautiful yellow or orange blooms during late spring and summer. This is an excellent plant to have in a zone that has suitable conditions, as it can withstand cold temperatures at least down to 30s F, making it a unique choice for gardens in colder climates.