A twining, evergreen vine from Australia, bower vine (Pandorea jasminoides) has large, tubular flowers reminiscent of mandevilla. The fragrant blooms are white, pink or red, often with a dark red throat, and appear in repeated flushes from late spring until fall. The 6- to 15-foot tall vines require tying to a support when young. Bower vines are easy and adaptable plants for home gardeners.
For best flowering, grow bower vine in full sun. The plant will grow and bloom in filtered sun or light shade, but flowering is reduced. The variegated form (P. jasminoides "Variegata") can lose its white markings and revert to all green if sunlight is insufficient.
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Bower vine grows best in rich, fertile soil. It adapts well to sandy soil but is more susceptible to nematodes in such locations. Bower vine is pH adaptable and thrives in both alkaline and acidic soil. Good soil drainage is key to winter survival in areas where the plant is only marginally hardy.
Vigorous and fast-growing, bower vine is capable of covering a 15-foot arbor in a year or two. Feed it in late winter or early spring when new growth appears and again after the first flush of flowers with a fertilizer specially formulated for flowering garden plants. The amount of fertilizer to apply will depend on the product you choose. Follow the package directions carefully because too much fertilizer encourages leaf growth at the expense of flowers and could damage the roots. Always apply fertilizer to moist soil. If necessary, water the day before you intend to fertilize.
Pests and Diseases
Bower vine is rarely bothered by diseases. The only reported insect pest is soil nematodes, which are microscopic worms that feed on plant roots. Infested plants wilt during the hottest part of the day and exhibit yellowing leaves and a general failure to thrive. If you suspect nematodes, dig the plant, gently wash the soil from the roots and look for tell-tale swellings or galls on the roots. Infested plants should be discarded. Nematodes are more prevalent in sandy soil than in heavier loam or clay soils.
Bower vines prefer moist, well-drained soil, but are moderately drought-tolerant once established. If your garden is in sandy soil, thoroughly incorporate a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost or other organic soil amendment into the planting area before installing the vine. The organic matter will act like a sponge, absorbing water and releasing it slowly as the plant needs it. In winter, when bower vine is resting, water sparingly. Good drainage is especially important in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 8 and 9a, where the vines go completely dormant during the winter.
Bower vine is a hardy evergreen that can grow throughout USDA plant zones 9b through 11. It's marginally hardy in plant zones 8 and 9a, where the vine behaves like a herbaceous perennial, dying back to ground level after the first frost. Increase bower vine's chances of surviving winters in zones 8 and 9a by planting it in a sheltered, well-drained spot and heavily mulching the roots during winter. New growth will emerge from the roots once temperatures warm in the spring.