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