Twining Vining

As winter seems a no-show this year here in Austin, Texas, there are plenty of  greens, partial greens, as well as blooms in my garden this February.  Two of the green things twine along this swing beam, which we built long ago for a playscape, but was re-purposed into an adult weekend snoozing spot.

The vines draping the frame are Potato VineSolanum laxum on the left side, and Mexican Butterfly VineMascagnia macroptera,  on the right.

The Potato Vine is at its blooming best in fall, winter, and spring.  Our summers are too toasty and dry for the blooms to peek out, though the foliage remains green year-round.

A dainty vine, it doesn’t get too big or full and never requires pruning.

Once freezing temperatures arrive, the foliage develops a lovely burgundy blush. My garden hasn’t seen anything more than a glancing freeze this year, so the foliage coloration is more subtle this February.

The peduncle, receptacle, and calyx mirror the plum purple in the foliage.

The warm color provides a nice contrast to the winter white of the petals.

Conversely, the Mexican Butterfly Vine is vigorous grower and bloomer.   Like the Potato Vine, it is a tough and water-wise addition for any Southwest garden.

The strands of the vine grow continuously and I frequently weave them into the full parts of the plant, like errant bits of hair needing tucking behind an ear.

While not flowering now, clusters of bright yellow blooms grace this plant during summer and fall.

Once the blooms are spent, the seed pods develop into chartreuse “butterflies,”  which eventually become rich honey brown “butterflies.”

The vine appears to host multitudes butterflies, resting amongst the lush foliage.

For obvious reasons, Mexican Butterfly Vine is a fun vine to grow in the garden, real butterflies or not!

I planted the vine about 10 years ago.  The trunk shows its age and twisty nature.

Most winters, the foliage of Mexican Butterfly Vine remains green, though it freezes back completely when we endure temperatures cold enough–well into the 20’s–and for a length of time.  Even when knocked back completely by a hard freeze, it returns from its roots without fail.

Both Mexican Butterfly Vine and Potato Vine are no-fuss and low-water needs vines, and provide year-round interest and beauty.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting her celebration of blooms for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day  and also to Pam at Digging for profiling the beauty of foliage with Foliage Follow-up.  Please visit each lovely blog to see blooms-n-foliage in gardens from many places.

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26 thoughts on “Twining Vining

  1. I had a potato vine growing on trellis in what was often a deeply shaded area, it eventually succumbed to being flooded during last year’s torrential rains… after years of barely making it. I’m determined to try one again in a sunnier area – the flowers were so lovely! As to that butterfly vine – gorgeous! Two winners for sure!

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    • You know, mine doesn’t get all that much sun, except for winter time. It’s in the shade of a Shumard Oak and gets only dappled shade most of the year. I first noticed this vine at Barton Springs Nursery years ago in a very shady spot, which is what piqued my interest in it. Try it in a sunnier spot, but maybe not too much sun! Keep me posted!

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  2. An adult snoozing spot sounds like a great idea Tina, especially in a place to admire your vines. We grew a beautiful Solanum here but high winds brought the whole thing down, yours inspires me to grow another. I am intrigued by your hub caps, is there a story there?

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    • It’s a great spot in which to “read” on a mild afternoon–before dozing off, that is. The hub caps–hah! My back fence is a patchwork of fencing materials and such. (I wish that years ago I’d built or had built a wooden fence, but alas, I didn’t for a variety of reasons.) Anyhow, my lovely old dog, Asher, loves to dig and his favorite spot is just behind the hub cap trellis on the left. It’s not easily apparent in the photo, but that trellis sits about three feet out from the one on the right because of the hole Asher has dug over the years. Because it’s a shady spot, there’s really not much I can grow there, so I wanted something to distract from the dog-dug hole. I like re-purposing when I can, rather than buying something new, thus the hub caps. The original plan was to paint them, but, as is obvious, that hasn’t happened. 🙂

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    • For those who are good at crafting, the butterflies make great decorations to use. Alas, I’m not one of those people, but I have given some butterflies to others to use. Lots of fun!

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  3. I’ve never seen these here. I love those big white flowers. 🙂 Winter was so slow to arrive in the Mid-Atlantic but it came in like a beast. We had subzero windchill this weekend and have about 4″ of fresh snow on the ground with freezing rain on the the way. But that’s ok. I like it when winter acts like winter.

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    • I’ll bet these two wouldn’t be winter hardy for you. Actually, the flowers are not all that big–less than an inch across. The photos might be a little misleading. I knew winter came in like a lion in the upper parts of the U.S. just recently. As much as I hate that we haven’t had much cold, I don’t want it to happen now, because we have so much budding out. But, I’m not sure I have much of a say in the matter. 🙂

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    • That’s a shame that is hasn’t bloomed more. You know, mine started of very slowly. I think it was several years before mine had much blooming activity, though it’s a consistent and full bloomer now, every summer.

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  4. Two new ones for me! I just love it reading about new plants even if I cannot grow them here.
    The Mexican Butterfly has most interesting and decorative fruits!

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  5. That Mexican vine is lovely, if it grows in Texas maybe it will also thrive here in the Philippines. I hope to see that too here, so i can make an arbor almost like yours. Presently, i have bougainvilla and now trying to let garlic vine grow fast in a trellis.

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