Petrea volubilis (aka Queen’s Wreath) is a Caribbean/Central American winter blooming vine with long drooping racemes and sandpapery oval leaves. It caught my eye at Gardenfest where i mistook it for the beloved northern Wisteria!
Queen’s Wreath begins flowering while still quite young although it takes 2-3 years to bloom profusely. The 5-lobed corolla is dark blue/violet subtended by a larger, widely-spaced and lighter blue, purplish or white calyx approx 1.75″ wide. The calyx persists after the corolla falls, gradually turning brown and dropping several weeks later. If the flowers have been pollinated, a fruit capsule develops in the center of the calyx. The calyx takes on the role of flight wings, spinning on the wind to assist seed dispersal.
P. volubilis is a zone 10-11 plant with hardiness just above freezing. Here in Vero Beach it flowers most heavily during February and sporadically through the year with the exception of our steamy summer months.
For best results, plant in a sunny location near an arbor, gazebo, fence, or tree where it can climb and cascade into sunlight. If steady supports are supplied, it can be used as a rambling or controlled vine.
In its native habitat, Queen’s Wreath can reach up to 40′ tall with equal spread, but an occasional pruning will keep it smaller. I’ve seen it trimmed into hanging baskets, sprawling over itself as a subshrub, and even planted as a ornamental standard. Such a versatile and beautiful tropical plant!
After getting established, P. volubilis requires little care and infrequent irrigation. Fertilize as needed. Keep lawn grass back from the root zone and protect smaller, immature plantiings when frost is forecast.
Until next time…