Flame Vine (Trumpet Creeper Family)
Pyrostegia venusta (Bignoniaceae)
Origin: Southern Brazil to Paraguay
Every winter, one of the most spectacular flowering vines in cultivation, Pyrostegia venusta, blooms, creating a showy display of four inch tubular orange flowers. Quite common in South Florida due to its ease of care, this vine can quickly grow to cover a chain link fence, a two story south-facing wall, or any tree they are planted underneath. Since it is a winter bloomer, the vines need protection from frost to show their color, but are relatively cold hardy (to 25 degrees.) Although it is an extremely aggressive grower, flame vine is not invasive, and is a great plant given the proper space.
There are two common blooming vines native to Florida in the Bignoniaceae family, Campsis radicans, trumpet vine, and Bignonia capreolata, cross vine, which are nectar sources for hummingbirds. Since hummingbirds in the area (some stay through our mild winters) recognize the flower form, flame vine will attract them to your garden while it’s blooming. This climbing vine puts out tendrils and branches profusely, forming thick woody stems in just a few seasons. Its tendrils help it to rapidly reach the top of the canopy, where it can attain the full sun exposure it desires. Pyrostegia is tolerant of a wide variety of soil types and needs no supplemental irrigation once established.
Selby Gardens has a Pyrostegia venusta blooming heavily right now, planted on the fence on the west side of Palm Avenue. Driving around Sarasota this time of year you will see quite a few of them; some lovingly cared for on trellises, and some long-forgotten plants blooming in oak canopies in residential neighborhoods.
Text by David Troxell