Thursday, June 16, 2011

Walkaways Part 14: Vines Edition

The ex-job has brought in a bunch of climbing / vining plants in the last few weeks. They're mostly species I haven't seen or heard of before, which makes them interesting, but I found it hard to take any of them seriously as a potential purchase. Vining plants are a pain in the ass indoors even when they do overwinter well, because they're always trying to latch on to your other plants (or curtains, or walls, or passers-by). My guess is that the idea is to sell them as annuals. Look, here's something new and different to put on your deck or balcony that will flower all summer and then get thrown out when the weather turns cold again.

Subsequent investigation has shown that I would probably not have been able to keep any of them alive indoors anyway. The last plant in this post, though, is a non-vine which I was interested in, or would have been if I'd thought there was any way I could afford it. (One of the nice - ? - things about going to the ex-job now is that I waste a lot less time debating with myself whether I should buy something, because unless it's in a three- or four-inch pot, I know I don't have the money.)

Cryptostegia madagascariensis, madagascar rubber vine.

Cryptostegia madagascariensis, madagascar rubber vine.

I wasn't familiar with C. madagascariensis; I've looked it up since getting back home, and nobody talks about it as a potential houseplant (to the point where a Garden Web poster asked about growing it indoors six months ago and no one has answered her. Though in fairness, she asked on the vines forum, not the houseplants forum, so there's a good chance nobody has answered because nobody's seen the question.). The sites that talk about growing it outdoors are more focused on its invasiveness (in Florida and Puerto Rico at least, and it's naturalized in Hawaii) than anything else, though says they need warm, humid conditions with constantly-moist soil, and everywhere else says they need full sun outdoors, so even if I had been interested, this would never have worked.

Mascagnia macroptera. It's apparently usually called "yellow orchid vine," though the tag said "butterfly pea vine." The "butterfly" part is not because they're attractive to butterflies; it's because the seed pods sort of resemble butterflies. (Photos at

Mascagnia macroptera.

Mascagnia macroptera was never seriously under consideration either. I don't even particularly like the look of it. It also has invasive tendencies, and needs a lot of light, though it's apparently much more flexible about temperature and water than Cryptostegia.

Senecio confusus 'Sao Paulo,' Mexican flame vine.

Senecio confusus 'Sao Paulo,' close-up of flower.

'Sao Paulo' is apparently self-sterile, or it would be invasive as well. It's also mildly toxic (causes skin irritation and/or allergic reactions in some people) and, to my mind, a little weedy-looking too. The flowers are nice, though, I guess.

Allamanda cathartica 'Williamsii.'

Allamanda cathartica 'Williamsii,' close-up of flower.

This one sort of bewildered me: we'd tried Allamanda while I was working there, and it didn't go well for us or for the plant, so it didn't make sense that they'd have brought it in on purpose. I assume they got it as part of a "climbers assortment" or something like that.

They're dangerously poisonous to kids and pets, and the ones we had when I was there defoliated in the winter. Plus they need, again, very bright light in order to do well (full sun or partial shade outdoors, which translates to at least full sun indoors), and I'm guessing they're probably also really prone to develop spider mites, since most plants in the Apocynaceae (Nerium, Adenium, Pachypodium, Mandevilla, Catharanthus, etc.) are to some degree or another. I can see how they might appeal to other people, but they do nothing for me.

Clerodendrum x speciosum, bleeding-heart vine.

Clerodendrum x speciosum (C. splendens x C. thomsoniae, according to commenter sa_haiad), closer view of flowers.

This one I actually sort of like. (Autumn Belle has a nice post on this plant, with more pictures, at My Nice Garden, if you're interested.) This is also a slight cheat, in that these two photos are from March. I don't know who's responsible for all the climbers, but clearly someone at the ex-job has been developing an obsession over the past few months.

This Clerodendrum might actually be growable indoors, if one worked at it: Autumn Belle says they need a sturdy support to climb on (probably something sturdier than the support that was in the pot, I'm guessing), and presumably they also need moist soil, a lot of light, and decent humidity, but I wouldn't be surprised if people managed to pull it off somewhere. At least one of the parent plants, C. thomsoniae, can be grown indoors, anyway. (I wouldn't be surprised if someone managed to grow Allamanda indoors either; it's at least not unheard of. I just wouldn't want to try it myself.)

Now we come to the two non-climbers.

Nerium oleander NOID.

Nerium oleander NOID, close-up of flowers.

This was at Lowe's, not the ex-job, in case that isn't obvious from the picture.

I've never been tempted by Nerium. The combination of needing a lot of light and water, being spider-mite magnets, and having the ability to kill every mammal within a three-block radius of our house is sort of off-putting. But I won't contest that the flowers are pretty.

And finally, for the pièce de résistance, the plant I actually would have gotten if I could have:

Anthurium NOID.

That's right, it's one of the fabled yellow Anthurium hybrids. It's not very yellow, to be sure. More of a cream color. But even so, it's definitely yellowish, not white, and there's even an orange spadix as a bonus. I've wanted to see one of these for a long time, and never actually expected to, so seeing one at all was pretty exciting. I can only hope that this is the vanguard for an army of (hopefully affordable) yellow Anthuriums. I'd hate to think I've missed my chance forever.


Ginny Burton said...

This is a public service announcement:

Your blogger needs money!

See the "Donate" button? Click on it and send him some money so that he can buy more plants!

Paul said...

Allamanda cathartica flowers remind me of solandra, which is a lovely plant. A crazy plant, but still lovely.

"having the ability to kill every mammal within a three-block radius of our house"

That's almost Academy Award material. They grow like weeds in South Texas and there are plenty of mammals thriving there.

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, I didn't say it would, just that it had the capacity. I don't mind poisonous plants in general (though toxicity is more of a factor in my buying decisions since we got Sheba), but oleanders are a step too far for me. Especially combined with the spider-mite thing.

Ginny Burton:

I'm really more interested in reducing the number of plants than in buying more, everything else being equal. What I actually need money for is replacing light bulbs and fixtures -- I bought several very cheap two-bulb fixtures when we moved in here, two summers ago, and a lot of those now only work on one side or the other. Which I suppose is what I get for buying the cheapest shop lights I could find, but still. Some of them didn't even last six months before one side or the other died.

Nic said...

Those are some very exotic climbing plants indeed. Who ends up buying these? I went to one of the "fancier" nurseries here in the Detroit suburbs recently, and along with all sorts of unusual perennials and shrubs for the garden and a full line of the typical annuals, they, too, had a huge range of unusual tropicals. From young mango trees to jacarandas and a big selection of large species of palm, they had everything you would need to plant a garden in southern Florida or Hawaii. I just kept wondering who they are expecting to buy these plants; I mean, I have never even seen a property with a private greenhouse around here, let alone a large, heated one...

As for the Allamanda cathartica, it might actually be manageable as a houseplant. Friends of ours here in Michigan have a rather large one that is many years old and spends the winter in their relatively dark and chilly home office, and it has never given them any trouble, though I find that surprising.

Ivynettle said...

Meh. None of these does anything for me. Not even the Anthurium. However new and interesting it may be, I just don't like this kind (I never know which is called what). And definitely not the oleander - my least favourite colour, too, and I like them less and less in general. Seen too many, I guess. So glad I got to get rid of mine, and we've only got two left at work - hope those'll be sold soon as well.

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

The place for oleanders is here outdoors in the Phoenix area. They do great here--from small varieties to large ones over 6 feet tall. They have single or double flowers in pink, red or white. We can't grow many plants here because of the heat and dryness, but oleanders thrive.

Dipankar Dasgupta said...

We have allamanda cathartica growing as a vine over the trellis. It flowers all year. The blooms look great on the arch. We do have dogs, cats and even stray monkeys here. They avoid the plant but I have not seen anything dying. We have milder winters, very heavy rainy season and scorching summers (though humid due to sea side location). Still this plant has been there in the outdoors for last ten years without any extra care. Nothing to complain about it. Spider mites not seen. May be its the weather here which it likes.