Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Tropical South
January, 2004
Regional Report

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This colorful clerodendrum vine is pest free, and the bright blooms decorate the plant for most of the year.


Many vines in south Florida get big and can overpower trees, powerlines, and even buildings. The long growing season permits us to grow many tropical vines that have beautiful blooms but are overly aggressive. There are smaller types available that are useful on smaller properties.

One of my favorites is the bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae), which is a moderate grower suitable for a trellis or arbor. The vine will reach about 12 feet and blooms through much of the year. Flowers are heart-shaped and red and white in color.

Another vine in this genus is hybrid glory bower vine (Clerodendrum x speciosum), which is more vigorous than its bleeding heart parent. This vine can quickly reach 20 feet so it will need some pruning to restrain it. The vine does well on fences and larger arbors. The flat bloom clusters are red and purple, making a colorful display. The vine is sterile so it will not set seed. Both of these vines are not suckering like most of the shrubby members of this genus. Both climb by twining around their support. They do well in sun to part shade.

Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is a twining vine suitable for a chain link fence or arbor. It takes trimming well and can be used for topiary-like landscape effects. Blooms are star-like and smell like nutmeg. This vine reaches about 20 feet in length and is quite salt tolerant. It may show nutritional deficiencies in our alkaline soil. The closely related, small-leaved Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) has smaller leaves, and flowers that are creamy yellow in color. They are quite shade tolerant.

Allamandas are leaning or scrambling vines that may need some weaving or ties to hold them to their supports. The popular yellow allamanda (Allamanda cathartica) is a favorite throughout the tropics. The yellow, flared trumpets are very showy and are a staple in landscaping. A double-flowered form is rarely seen. These vines reach 10 to 20 feet in length.

Giant purple allamanda (Allamanda 'Cherries Jubilee') has big blooms to 6 inches across. Flowers are bell shaped and purple in color. This is a shorter grower to about 10 feet. Purple allamanda (Allamanda blanchetii) has purple blooms about 3 inches long and bell shaped. This species reaches about 10 feet. Allamandas need sun to bloom and perform best. They are acid-soil lovers so keep them away from cement.

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