Jade vine

Strings of head-turn­ing iri­des­cent blooms give the jade vine an ex­quis­ite, other-worldly ap­pear­ance, writes NOEL BURDETTE

Gardening Australia - - CONTENTS -

The first up-close en­counter with a jade vine can be quite a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence. I have seen gar­den­ers ex­press al­most child­like ex­cite­ment at see­ing some­thing so eye-catch­ing and un­usual for the first time.

This strong-grow­ing legu­mi­nous vine can be found clam­ber­ing up large rain­for­est trees in its na­tive Philip­pines habi­tat, as it makes its way to the high­est part of the canopy. It pro­duces pen­du­lous racemes of more than 200 vivid turquoise, pea-like flow­ers from early to late spring. They hang el­e­gantly from the vine, av­er­ag­ing about 1m in length, al­though they have been known to reach more than 2m.

grow­ing tips

As it orig­i­nates in hu­mid trop­i­cal rain­forests, this ev­er­green climber prefers grow­ing in ar­eas that have con­stant warmth and hu­mid­ity.

In na­ture, jade vine flow­ers are pol­li­nated by small birds or noc­tur­nal bats, but in cul­ti­va­tion they need to be pol­li­nated by hand. The most re­li­able way to prop­a­gate new plants is mar­cot­ting (aerial lay­er­ing). This is like tak­ing a cut­ting while the cut­ting ma­te­rial is still on the par­ent plant. Find a ma­ture stem, strip off a nar­row ring of bark, pack some moist­ened cut­ting medium around the wound and wrap it in clear plas­tic. When roots fill the pack­age, the new plant can be cut off and pot­ted up.

Plant your jade vine in full sun or semi-shade in com­post-en­riched soil. Pro­vide a moist grow­ing en­vi­ron­ment dur­ing sum­mer, then keep it slightly drier dur­ing the cooler months. This em­u­lates the dis­tinct dry and wet sea­sons of its home­land.

When grown in the gar­den, a jade vine needs a strong sup­port, such as a per­gola or an ar­bor. It has to be at least 2.5m in height to cater for the spec­tac­u­lar in­flo­res­cences.

It won’t take long for the news to get out that you have a jade vine in bloom, and you’ll be the talk of the town!

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