Gardening: A trio of vines for those who embrace exuberance


Halifax Media Group

Let’s face it. Most vines aren’t acceptable landscape plants for control freaks. But vines — especially tropical flowering species — are ideal for folks who embrace exuberance both in vitality and color.

My favorite flowering vine is a woody species from the mountains of Southern India that, because of its high-altitude origin, is cold hardy in Central Florida. Although it’s a Thunbergia species and thus related to better-known plants such as sky vine and black-eyed Susan vine, Indian clock vine (T. mysorensis) has startlingly different flowers.

This vine’s yellow-and-red blossoms, dangling in loose, lengthy clusters, slightly resemble the cupped flowers of pitcher plants, and they ooze nectar that tempts butterflies and hummingbirds. Stems, which ascend by twining, can climb at least 20 feet high. Grow Indian clock vine in full or part-day sun on arbors and fences or up low-branched trees. Small plants, which will grow rapidly, are available online, including

Running a close second in my viney hit parade is Rangoon creeper, a spiny and incredibly vigorous plant from tropical Asia. Also called Indian jasmine because its fabulous flowers emit a peachy aroma to attract the fruit bats needed for pollination, this high-climbing beauty bears clusters of trumpet-shaped blossoms that open white, darken to pink and then turn red.

Rangoon creeper (Quisqualis indica) can overrun large areas in tropical climes but is easier to control in Central Florida because of our poor soil and occasional frosts. This almost-ever-blooming, half-hardy species is ideal for growing on fences and arbors, where its multi-colored flowers are conveniently displayed at eye level. Sites shielded from north and northwest winds are preferred.

The most commonly cultivated of the vine threesome we’ll discuss is bower vine, an Australian and Malaysian species that bears multitudes of pink, dark-eyed, funnel-shaped flowers most of the year. Considerably less rampant than Rangoon creeper, bower vine — Pandorea jasminoides, not Podranea, with which it’s often confused — usually climbs less than 15 feet high.

A beguiling and surprisingly hardy plant that’s lovely when grown on an arbor, fence or small tree, bower vine is sometimes available in other varieties, including one with all-white blossoms. Both bower vine and Rangoon creeper are available from online sources.

Charles Reynolds, a Winter Haven resident, has an associate degree in horticulture and is a member of the Garden Writers Association of America.


Last modified: February 27, 2014
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