Versatile Mandevilla Vine Likes the Heat
Question: I recently saw a pretty pink vine in a neighbor’s yard. He said it was mandevilla. Do they do well here and are they easy to grow?
Answer: Easy-to-grow mandevilla do very well.
Though they tend to like the warmest months best, they will bloom throughout most of the year, from April through November.
Now is a good time to plant one; it should establish quickly in the warm weather.
Mandevillas, native to Southeast Brazil, are versatile and can be grown as a background or border plant, in containers or about anywhere.
One variety most often found in nurseries in two or five-gallon containers is ‘Alice du Pont,’ which has reddish-rose flowers and dark green, glossy oval leaves that are 3 to 8 inches long. In the ground, this vine can grow 20 to 30 feet, although it stays much smaller when containerized.
‘Red Riding Hood’ is another popular variety. It is lower growing and shrubbier than ‘Alice du Pont’ and has deep pink blooms. ‘Red Riding Hood’ makes a good hanging basket plant.
‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ is another shrubbier type that has reddish-pink blooms. ‘My Fair Lady’ has a white flower.
To grow mandevilla successfully, keep the following in mind:
* Plant in a warm location. Mandevillas tend to be cold and frost sensitive in winter months, so plant in a southern exposure or a protected area near the house. A location with morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal, although mandevillas can often take full sun.
* Provide excellent drainage. Mandevillas are prone to root rot, especially in winter when it’s wet and cold. Before planting, dig a hole and fill it with water. If it has not drained in two hours, the drainage is poor. Look for another place, or improve drainage by amending with pumice at a rate of 20% to 30%. Also plant the mandevilla about 2 inches higher than the surrounding soil, making sure to cover the roots well. Add a mulch such as homemade or bagged compost.
* Use containers. Mandevillas do well in pots. Use a high quality potting soil that has perlite or pumice.
* Provide support. Trellises and stakes give mandevilla something to grow on.
* Feed regularly. Mandevillas bloom on new growth, so keep them healthy by feeding monthly with an all-purpose fertilizer.
* Keep moist, but not soggy. Water when the top inch or so of soil has dried.
* Pinch young plants to encourage bushiness. Established mandevillas need very little, if any pruning, but they can tolerate trimming if necessary.
University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners are here to help. These trained and certified horticultural volunteers are dedicated to extending research-based, scientifically accurate information to the public about home horticulture and pest management. They are involved with a variety of outreach programs, including the UCCE Master Garden hotline, which provides answers to specific questions. You can reach the hotline at (714) 708-1646 or send e-mail to ucmastergardeners @yahoo.com. Calls and e-mail are picked up daily and are generally returned within two to three days.