A one-two punch of stunning photos on Meredith O’Reilly’s Great Stems and a positive write-up in Armitage’s Vines and Climbers sent me running to the seed rack at the nursery last spring. I bought a Renee’s Garden pack of Spanish flag vine (Mina lobata) and soon after lucked into a homegrown packet of seeds collected by Meredith. She likes to call it by its other name, exotic love vine, with an emphasis on the “luvvvvv.”
I can’t remember which pack of seeds I planted along my side fence—probably some of both, sown directly in the ground in April—but I had a good germination rate, proving they really are easy to grow from seed. After a couple of weeks I thinned the seedlings, selecting the strongest five or six. But then the drought and exceptional heat of the summer of 2011 whittled those down to three. These managed to climb to the fence top, but they didn’t clamber along it like I’d hoped. Blasted for a few hours of intense afternoon sunlight, the vines wilted badly after only a couple of days without water, so I supplemented and gave them a drink every few days. I don’t baby most plants that much, but I really wanted to see those beautiful flowers at the end of summer.
And now here they are! The vines are responding eagerly to the cooler days and nights, and more buds are appearing daily. I look forward to full bloom in a week or so.
If you grow this South American vine in central Texas, know that it’s an annual in our climate, but it’s easy to collect seed and save some for next year. While it likes sun, afternoon shade would be welcome, and be prepared to give it a drink every few days if we have another summer like this one. Only you can decide if it’s worth the trouble, but who doesn’t like a little exotic luvvvv?
Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.
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