Sunday, May 9, 2021

Vines of Southwest Florida



Mike Malloy

There are many flowering vines that do well here in Southwest Florida. You can grow them on an arbor, a trellis or a fence; you can also let them climb up one of your least favorite trees.

There are three different types of vines.

Climbing vines use tendrils or small roots to attach themselves. Example: Passion Vine.

Twining Vines use new growth, twining upward to encircle a structure such as a tree or pole. If you want to help them along remember that they usually twine themselves counter clockwise, following the earth’s rotation. If you twine them in the wrong direction they will just untwist themselves from their supports. Example: Confederate Jasmine.

Sprawling vines are actually thick stemmed shrubs that can actually support themselves. Example: Bougainvillea.

I have used one of my queen palms as a vine holder. It makes a great natural trellis for my Dutchman’s Pipe vine; the flowers cascade out of the vine and hang down, almost separate from the rest of the plant. This makes them prominent to the human eye, while the vine itself can turn into a massive blanket of green. Remember, planting vines that attract butterflies like the Dutchman’s Pipe will attract them –

Black eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata). PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Black eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata). PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

no maybes here – so be prepared to share them. The leaves will be consumed by the caterpillars, which is Mother Nature’s way of pruning. But the plants will flush back out and eventually be better than ever.

I have always planted at least two different vines on each trellis: one summer bloomer and one winter bloomer. That way I can be sure that one or the other is always blooming, and if both happen to bloom at the same time, this is what I call a bonus.

If you do a little research and plant the right combination of vines together you can produce a spectacular burst of color all year long. Vines will provide nectar sources for butterflies, nesting areas for birds and privacy walls to screen unsightly views and perhaps block out an unwanted neighbor or two.

In condo situations you can use climbing vines which adhere to walls or use a small latticework trellis or an obelisk and confine your vine to a pot in a small area. Most vines will do well in a pot, but need a little more attention because of the restrictions of being contained. They will need a little more fertilizer and

Costa Rican Butterfly Vine (Dalechampia dioscoreifolia).

Costa Rican Butterfly Vine (Dalechampia dioscoreifolia).

water and some of the more vigorous growers will need trimming to control them and keep them on their individual supports.

Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus). Flowers are pink and heart shaped, flowering in clusters. They bloom in spring, summer and fall. They attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Coral vines can get aggressive but can be controlled by pruning.

Costa Rican Butterfly Vine (Dalechampia dioscoreifolia). Flowers of the Costa Rican butterfly vine are pink to purple and are shaped like bow ties or butterflies, whichever you imagine them to be. Under perfect conditions they will bloom on and off all year and require average watering. These are considered thin vines, meaning they will not get thick or aggressive, and they look great when planted in combination with other vines. They are not very common in most gardens and they will attract a lot of attention.

Dutchman’s Pipe Vine (Aristolochia). Flowers on Dutchman’s Pipe are very large, brownish purple and look a lot like a tapestry. They can be six to seven inches wide and ten inches long and bloom on and off all year. This vine is a real show stopper and a must for all butterfly gardens because it is the

Monkey Brush (Combretum aubletii).

Monkey Brush (Combretum aubletii).

host plant for the gold rim butterfly (Polydamas), which is one of the most abundant butterflies here in Southwest Florida. They will do well in medium to low light but can get very aggressive. This vine would make Tarzan jealous!

Florida Flame Vine (Pyrostegia venusta). Flowers appear in winter-bright orange tubular flowers. They love full sun. These vines are attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. They don’t bloom as long as most vines, but when in bloom they can create a spectacular display. Just look at the entrance to the Wilderness complex in Naples on Goodlette-Frank Road, just slightly north of Golden Gate Parkway at bloom time in January; it is a familiar sight to many Naples residents.

Parrots Beak (Gmelina philippensis). This vine is a new one in my garden arsenal of vines, but rates right up there with the rest of them. Flowers are bright yellow and pop out of the sides of a long stalk that can be ten inches long. The stalk actually looks like one of those Chinese finger handcuffs we had as kids. Have I totally lost you? Well, take my word for it, this one is special. It will tolerate full sun to

Pipe Vine (Aristolochia).

Pipe Vine (Aristolochia).

partial shade and blooms all year with average water needs.

Passion Vine (Passiflora spp). This is one of the most beautiful flowering vines. There are many different flowering passion vines and one is just as beautiful as the next. They prefer full sun to almost shade and have average water needs. They will also attract three of Florida’s favorite butterflies: the zebra longwing, Florida’s state butterfly; the gulf fritillary; and the Julia. All three use passion vines as their host plant (plants on which female butterflies lay their eggs) and usually bloom all year long.

Black Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata). Flowers are yellow with black centers. They bloom all year long but are most showy in winter months. Light requirements are sun to partial shade. They are available in different colors but are difficult to find locally.

Monkey Brush Vine (Combretum aubletii). Flowers are orange, red and yellow and are shaped like a hairbrush. This vine is a rare find. It blooms in fall, winter and spring and requires full sun. This one is sure to stop traffic!

These are only a few of my favorite vines we can grow here in Southwest Florida; the list is way too long so I think I will stop here.



One response to “Vines of Southwest Florida”

  1. Paul Allen says:

    Hi Mike,
    Great article.
    I have an outdoor shower and would like to put some flowering vines inside the privacy wall. The wall is veneered with stone. A lot of shade, maybe 2/4 hours of sun. A fragrant flower is what I’m lookin for. I can send you some pictures if you want.
    Will not by home till November 22nd.

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