After last week’s column I started getting hate mail from the ASPCB, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Bindweed. I believe it is some kind of Satanist cult. So I thought today I should say some nice thing about better behaved vining plants. But first a noxious vine that I didn’t have room to denounce last week, and lamentably one I planted myself ages ago.
For many years the Proven Winners people would send me a huge box of plants they are proud of for me to try and hopefully write about. They don’t anymore. One plant was Virginia creeper, and I did write about it. I wrote, “Don’t EVER plant this!” I spend much of every summer pulling it out of trees and off outbuildings. Now they don’t like me anymore. But enough kvetching.
Tropical vines are among my favorite plants, particularly mandevilla. Though previously not easy to find, about five years ago they suddenly showed up in masses. I looked at the tags to see if it was some special variety, and the tag said Dipladenia. Huh? It sure looked like a mandevilla. The tag said it was a mounding plant, so not the vigorously vining mandevilla.
I bought four and hung them from the rail of a second floor deck. They have been great there, not needing much attention and thriving in the sun and heat.
But growing them for several years now, I have learned that late in the season they get bored with mounding and start throwing out long vines. I decided to call them latent mandevillas, and finally the taxonomists, after another of their year’s long spats, agreed with me. This year the tags read “Mandevilla mounding variety.”
Meanwhile I still have plants that have always been mandevilla with some of the best reds in the garden. Others are pink and white. The ones that don’t pretend to be mounded are in large pots with a trellis, which they outgrow every summer. I cut them back hard and bring them inside in the winter.
Very similar in many ways but not at all related is bougainvillea, another tropical vine. Both are treated the same way. At the moment my passion is one called Gold Rush; the profuse flowers are a true golden color.
This spring I saw an unidentified plant in a nursery, something quite different, a vine with red and white flowers. No idea what it was, so I pulled my brain out of my pocket and asked the Picture This app what it was. Bleeding heart vine, she said. Clerodendrum. I grabbed it. At full price, that’s how gorgeous it is.
These are all tropical vines that do quite well in containers.
I have forsaken my beloved terra cotta for fiberglass or quality plastics because they need large pots, and with terra cotta large means heavy, and they need to be lugged inside every fall. But once on the sun porch and cut back by half, they … well, survive until next spring.
Then there is clematis, the close friend of mail boxes and fence posts.
The care of clematis could take an entire column or two, has in fact. But there are readers who will complain if I don’t mention clematis. So there; I’ve mentioned it.
Working on this, I have ducked outside several times to check something or other on my potted vines, and guess what I found. One of my mandevillas is being attacked by bindweed. I love closing out a column with an irony.