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PETREA volubilis

Image of Petrea volubilis

Doris Happel

Family

Verbenaceae

Botanical Name

PETREA volubilis

Plant Common Name

Queen's Wreath

General Description

With drooping flower clusters reminiscent of wisteria, this tender tropical queen wreathes herself in a royal floral display in cycles from spring to fall. A strong, sprawling vine that is partially deciduous in winter, it is native to Central America and the West Indies. The large, long, oval leaves are a pleasing green and age to more of a gray-green with a prominent, light green midrib. The texture is distinguishably rough, like a very fine sandpaper. The leaves drop in the winter dry season, in severe drought, or after a frost, but this vine is typically never fully nude.

Developing from the vine tips in cycles from spring to fall, pendent clusters of exquisitely beautiful lavender-blue flowers appear. The true flower is a short-lived, five-lobed, cup-shaped petal that is surrounded by the petal-like calyces that are longer and also five-lobed. The calyces are long-lasting and slowly fade to pale. Pollination is by butterflies. The seed is beige and five-lobed and is called a samara. There is considerable variation in the color of flowers between plants - some quite purple, other much more blue -- but all slowly fade to a lighter shade over time. Flowering cycles usually are most pronounced outside of the oppressive heat and heavy rains of the tropical wet season.

Grow queen's wreath in a fertile, well-drained soil that is not overly alkaline (high alkalinity leads to nutritional deficiencies and stunted growth). For best flowering, grow it in full sun, though it tolerates other light exposures, even blooming in areas that seem to be quite shady. Ensure that this vine grows upon a sturdy support, such as an elegant metal fence, strong stone wall or wooden arbor. It can be grown in a mixed border or patio container as a billowy shrub if the plant is pruned back after each flowering. Although the seeds may result in seedlings at a distance from the mother, they are easily pulled and thus do not make this species invasive, perhaps at most a nuisance, given the spectacular floral show. There is a cultivar, 'Albiflora,' that has white flowers.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Vine/Liana

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    12'-40' / 3.7m - 12.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean, Caribbean, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Vining/Climbing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Light Blue, Lavender, Blue Violet

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Hanging Basket, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier, Tropical, Vine

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes