Those Beautiful, Tempting, Devilish Flowering Vines
Part 2- Modest Growers

Allamanda cathartica

Allamanda 'Stansills Double'

Mandevilla 'Suntory Red'
a trademarked selection

Tecomanthe dendrophylla
The New Guinea Trumpet Creeper
( courtesy Richard Lyons Nursery)

Stephanotis grandiflora
Hawaiian Wedding Vine
wonderfully fragrant
( courtesy of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden)
 Part 1 of this series on flowering vines was termed "The Speedy Growers". This installment deals with more modest growing species, requiring a little less care. As with all vines, there are species for every climate, garden location, and grower ability. I have grown many species over the years, but time and space constraints are the biggest problems for every gardener, even in public gardens. Unless you have a full time gardening staff ( some gardens have their own staff just for pergolas and vines, lucky them), then I would still recommend good judgment in choosing vines. Good advice is just a few phone calls away. Most any garden center, botanical garden, and University Extension Service agent can lend a lot of advice on which vines to choose, along with problems or benefits for each one.

While there is no Vine Society that I know of, the Tropical Flowering Tree Society ( does an admirable job of producing and promoting such vines for the local area. In our local, coral rock soil, almost any vine we plant will require extra organic material and extra iron fertilizer to keep the plants healthy. I  found that modest amounts of nitrogen ( under 10% of the formula), combined with extra amounts of potassium ( over 10% of the formula) make for good growth. If you are lucky enough to have real soil, then a lower analysis fertilizer will do the job nicely. In our area, a palm fertilizer such as 8-2-12 works just great. Slow release fertilizers also work well. If you like organic fertilizers, use one made for roses, with extra greensand and bone meal in it. The plants will respond quite well. The main idea to remember is to keep the growth modest, while encouraging flowers, not foliage. Many novice gardeners want the "grow it fast to cover the wall fast" method, and then rue their impatience forever after. Be patient, and grow a solid, well-rooted vine, chosen carefully to be suitable for the growing space.

One of the problems that vines seem to incur is insects and mites , especially mealybugs and mites. These can be problematic to control, although granular systemic rose insecticides work really well, controlling the insects from the inside out. Occasionally, snails can be a problem, for which I found almost any snail bait works, if you use it every few weeks during the wet weather that snails love. There are organic ,metal based snail baits that are safer to use around dogs and children. There are also some of the blue-pellet synthetic materials that can be used effectively if you don't have pets or kids.

Petrea volubilis
Queen's Wreath Vine
(courtesy of Richard Lyons Nursery)

Vines can make a huge difference in the look of a garden, especially in the vertical aspect. They need extra attention in every phase of culture, from planning before the vine is installed, to installation of a solid support, to long term maintenance. The rewards are certainly worth the effort.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens