Plant profile: Mandevilla

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 10, 2004 - 10:00 PM

Mandevilla is an annual flowering vine in the same plant family as the common ground cover vinca.

Photo: Jane Friedmann, Star Tribune

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Minnesota will never be mistaken for a tropical paradise, but potted tropical plants can turn your deck or patio into a mini-paradise -- at least for the summer. Mandevilla, an exotic flowering vine, is a perfect choice to get that tropical look.

A vigorous twining vine, mandevilla sends up many long stems covered in leathery, deep-green leaves. While the foliage is handsome, it's the profusion of large, colorful flowers that steal the show. Trumpet-shaped with a broad flare of petals, the open flowers can reach at least 3 inches across. Shades of pink and rosy red are the most common flower colors available, but you may also find pure white or yellow. ('Alice du Pont' is a popular pink-flowered cultivar.)

If grown in large hanging baskets, mandevilla's vines will dangle down. Mandevilla also can make a quick summer screening when trained on trellises or deck railings. But the best way to display its showy flowers is to train it up a fan trellis or decorative structure that is anchored in a large container.

Mandevilla likes warm temperatures and evenly moist soil. (Containers may need to be watered daily in hot weather.) Fertilize monthly, or use a dilute fertilizer solution weekly. This tropical plant is often treated as an annual here. It is possible to overwinter mandevilla by cutting the plant back a bit in early fall, then moving it indoors and placing it in a warm, bright spot. It's likely to limp along through the winter, but should resume growth with spring's longer days. Move mandevilla back outdoors only when warm weather arrives.

Plant type: Annual flowering vine.

Season: Blooms all summer.

Site: Full sun, well-drained soil or container.

Height: May grow 4 to 8 feet in a summer.

Available as: Plants at garden centers in spring. Plants can also be ordered from some garden catalogs including Park's Seeds.

Fun fact: Mandevilla is in the same plant family as the common ground cover vinca (Vinca minor).

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