Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
November, 2005
Regional Report

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Bougainvilleas tolerate drought and tight roots much better than most other tropical vines.

Climbing Beauties

Bougainvillea, mandevilla, allamanda ... it sounds like there's a Jimmy Buffet song title in there somewhere! But these are the names of three vines that can only be described as "good to grow."

Flowery Treats
In the tropical region, these are the vines that everyone takes for granted but many find challenging to maintain. Easier to grow are morning glories and passionflowers, but these three deserve all the attention they get. Southern coast gardeners take them on in two ways: replanting them in the garden each year that the temperatures freeze them, or caring for them in ways that sustain the vines. Both regions can use these vines to great effect as container plants, protecting them in winter where necessary. They may be the reason for having a sunporch, since warm temps, water, and fertilizer keep them blooming month after month even indoors.

The Trick
If you have great success with bougainvillea but have never managed to keep allamanda or mandevilla blooming for long, here's why. Bougie thrives in the same plentiful sunny site but prefers to be fertilized sparingly and allowed to dry out a bit between waterings. That is a starvation diet to Alla and Mande.

Differences to Note
Where the vines grow and flower all year-round (in the Tropics zone and greenhouse conditions along the coast), they have other specific needs to keep the flowers coming. Give bougainvilla a very well-drained soil, and know that limiting root space actually promotes flowering. This extends to allowing this plant to become potbound before repotting it, which may take several years. As it outgrows its space, you can prune back a few branches at a time as they go out of bloom. At that point, use a flowering formula fertilizer.

Allamanda and mandevilla, on the other hand, prefer a richer, more organic soil that drains well, and regular applications of flower formula fertilizer. Prune out any dead stems that develop, and cut the whole plant back in early spring or fall if necessary to rejuvenate.

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