Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Snail Vines and Shrimp Plants! - Now that`s Weird

 It`s easy to see why this vigorous climber earns it`s nickname the `snail vine` or `corkscrew vine`. 
It is often referred to as Vigna Caracalla or Cochliasanthus Caracalla. Either way, it is a spectacular flowering, vigorous climber that has a very heavy sweet fragrance.                                                      
 I put a few flowers into a small crystal vase on my kitchen window sill and couldn`t believe the heady fragrance filling the room!
The `Snail Vine` is a semi tropical vine that will quickly cover fences and sheds if it has a suitable climbing structure like chicken wire. It is one of the climbing `twining` vines, so will take off if it has something to curl and twine around. However, you don't have to live in the tropics to grow this beauty, you just have to treat it as an annual - it really does grow that fast. You will need warm summers and be able to keep the water up to it.
The plant can be propergated by cuttings, however, the easiest way is from the long bean pods that hang after the flowers are finished. They are usually pollinated by ants, and when they dry you can pop out the beans and plant next season. They come up readily like most bean seeds, just don't overwater them till they have shot as you will risk rot of the bean. With loads of lush foliage and an amazing scent these beauties are definitely worth a try. They will die off when it gets too cold for them, but they will come back in no time when the soils and weather warm up again.
The Shrimp Plant` is another aptly named flower. Botanically known as Justicia Brandegeeana, it is another unusual flowering plant that is easy to grow. It is commonly orange in colour but there is a yellow variety that has a slightly more upright habit.
The `Shrimp Plant` is a long lived small shrub that requires very little maintenance. My clump is 18 years old! I just cut it back to the ground every few years and throw a handful of fertiliser at it when I remember. It wont like freezing conditions but my winters get to zero and it always looks great.
Now what is this amazing flower?

It`s called a Dutchmans Pipe or Aristolochia. I grew this one from seed given to me with the dire warning ` keep your eye on it Roz or it will take over your garden`. Needless to say I keep  one eye on it at all times, expecting it to pop up rampantly all over the place! It hasn`t, but I`m still a bit wary. I think the problem lies in it`s seed germinating all over the place, so I`m still on alert.

It is a woody twining vine with pretty heart shaped foliage that can often obscure the flowers. Being deciduous it should be positioned where you wont miss it in winter and don't let your helpful  husband near it! cause it does look dead in winter.
Now can anyone guess what this is?
Yep, a Pitcher Plant or Sarracencia

This little beauty sits on my kitchen window sill and attracts lots of little flying insects into it`s hanging pitchers. I always find it fascinating when its time to cut an old one off, because it`s always half full of liquid that I have no idea how it got in there. I only water the plant from the bottom so how does it get in there? Don't know, but it`s a cool insect catching plant that is quite long lived.
Well that`s it for some of my more unusual flowering plants - I`m sure some of you grow interesting plants too - like a `bat` plant? If you haven`t seen my post about the `Queen of the Night` you should check it out by clicking the link below. Now that`s a very unusual night flowering beauty, it`s sole purpose to attract a night moth with it`s strong sweet fragrance, then the flower is dead my morning.

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