Plant Profile: Asarina scandens

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As the heatwave drags on, my evenings are consumed by watering the garden. Already short, their length is reducing daily so that I am often found watering in the dark, a torch in one hand and a hose in the other. Normally there’s a glass of wine not far away to keep me going. All the time spent irrigating has impacted on three things – blogging, cleaning and sleeping. I am not doing enough of any of them and cleaning the house has ceased entirely. One cannot revive a dead plant, but one can vacuum up fluff any time: that’s the way I look at it anyway. Thank you for bearing with me whilst I am posting less frequently.

In the garden I am making last minute preparations for opening, layering in as much interest as I can and being more experimental than ever. Spurred on by the sustained heat I’ve had tremendous fun playing with true exotics such as tillandsias, bromeliads and anthuriums. These may not be so successful in cooler summers so I am making the most of the opportunity. I hope returning visitors will enjoy seeing something new this year. I never regard my garden as finished, particularly in the summer when plants can pass their peak relatively quickly. I go to my local garden centre every weekend and snap up plants as they are delivered from the nursery. Not only does this mean I get the pick of the crop, but the plants are fresh as a daisy too.

Last weekend I was delighted to pick up a hanging pot filled with a loose cloud of Asarina scandens (recently renamed Maurandya scandens), commonly known as the snapdragon vine. I did not need it at all, but I could not resist the waterfalls of violet flowers cascading from top to bottom. Annual climbers are great fun to grow because they are generally unfussy and eager to get going – Cobaea scandens (cup and saucer vine), Ipomoea lobata (Spanish flag) and Rhodochiton atrosanguineus (purple bell vine) are among my favourites and I grow them every year. They are best started from seed since bought plants tend to become tangled before you can get your hands on them. Annual climbers really come into their own later in the season when they can be used to scramble over plants which are past their best. All those listed have a hint of the exotic about them, which is perfect for my garden.

Having disappeared into obscurity, Asarina scandens is becoming popular again, with new varieties and seed strains appearing on the market. Sarah Raven sells a variety called ‘Violet’ and another named ‘Mystic Rose’. Thompson and Morgan’s ‘Jewel Mix’ will reward the grower with a mixture of indigo, purple, pinks and white blooms. Anyone craving a white-only strain might try Chiltern Seeds’ ‘Snowwhite’. Asarina scandens is a climber that will make its way up or along almost anything, as well as trailing effectively from a tall pot or hanging basket. The vine’s dainty foliage is perfect for smaller gardens or as a contrast to bigger leaves. Flowers are produced incessantly from an early stage in the plant’s development and will not stop until the first frosts. Asarina scandens is not frost-hardy so relocate to a conservatory, greenhouse or sunny window as winter approaches, or simply start again with fresh seed the next year.

Other than disliking root disturbance Asarina scandens places very few demands on the gardener other than needing regular watering. I’ve hung mine from an disused outdoor light fitting close to the front door, from where it will tumble down as well as scrambling through adjacent climbers. It would be dramatic grown through a wigwam of sticks or a conical support alongside a yellow-flowered Thunbergia alata (black-eyed Susan) or cascading over the edge of a lead planter with an orange fuchsia such as ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’ AGM. My plant catches some morning and midday sun, but otherwise enjoys bright shade.

Whilst it’s a little too late to start Asarina scandens from seed now (unless you are intending to grow it indoors through the winter) it’s well worth adding a pack of seed to your spring order. Your friends will thank you heartily for sharing any spares with them. TFG.

Categories: Annuals, Climbers, Container gardening, Daily Flower Candy, Flowers, Foliage, Plants, Small Gardens

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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22 comments On "Plant Profile: Asarina scandens"

  1. I love this! I will definitely add it to my seed list. Well done with the watering – Cornwall’s not quite so hot, still need to water but cooler and a few showers.

  2. The heat and lack of rain are certainly keeping you busy but don’t affect your enthusiasm for interesting and unusual plants. We’ve been seeing pictures of the English countryside in drought and the hills look much the same as the hills around here in Summer!

    1. I bought a plant for a couple of quid, just to be polite at a charity plant sale. The main stem broke off on the way home so I wasn’t optimistic. I’m delighted to find it’s a white asarina and is joyfully climbing up a trellis flowering profusely. I shall certainly try and get some seeds for next year and look for other colours. What a great plant I didn’t know.

  3. That’s a beauty. I will bear that in mind for next year as well as the other annual climbers. My clematis are not doing so well, so maybe these are the answer to bare fencing.

  4. I didn’t realize that England can suffer so much from summer heat and draught as we do over here across the “Pond.” Gardens aren’t exempt, for sure, in spite of near constant watering. We’re just trying to keep things alive, never mind pretty blooms. However, I want to look for hot climate hanging pots to replace the once lush pink/mauve/white petunias that died an ignoble death last week. Maybe a hanging snapdragon vine? We’ll see.

  5. Very pretty Dan. Martin? the nurseryman must becoming your new bestest friend!! Your garden is looking beautiful. Best you water and not write a blog. Now you understand my summer life, as I need to spend several hours every evening e watering otherwise everything would be dead. Of course a chardy or a couple of beers (depending on how hot!) makes it a very enjoyable, peaceful time. x

  6. Looks glorious Dan and watering is definitely ahead of cleaning! Seems a lot of us are going through extremes this year, we’ve had very heavy frosts here, -7 one morning which is very low for us. Here’s hoping you get a refreshing spot of rain and looking forward to your posts on the opening.

  7. What a beautiful plant! I also very much appreciate your admission that housework has ceased. Same here, though I’ve not had the courage to admit it until now.

  8. You know, that does look familiar, but I do not believe I have ever seen one. I do not know the name. How odd that something so flashy would become obscure.

    1. I know, but I am very embarrassed about my house at the moment. Some rooms haven’t see a duster in months. I should do what they did in country houses and cover everything in dust sheets for the summer!

  9. I once had grown this lovely little vigorous vine on the back wall of my greenhouse, it became absolutely festooned in hanging masses of blooms that continued on even through hard frost. I also grew it in large container with podium, again with excellent results and then placing in a cool solarium for the winter where it successful held it over for the following year. Have attempted it outside, though depending on the season, sometimes it has flowered wonderfully, other times too much vine being produced at the expensive of bloom. I now have a container going of mixed colors I’ll again keep potted, really do love this charming very floriferous vine!

      1. Well, again am having great success with this beautiful little vine, blooms of white, pink and two tones of blue are beautifully cascading down like little gloxinia flowers on very fine vines with heart shaped foliage. Once you grow asarina scandens, you’ll always wish to do so again and again! This year, I paid particular attention to keep all container plants well fed to reap the benefit of continued vigor and bloom on everything as if it remains the middle of July!

  10. Aaah how nice to see you did a write up on these. I just scattered a couple of packs of A scandens “Sky Blue” from Muller seeds in the Netherlands, they’re very good with whats new and desirable. At least they still have these things when I get to find out about them three years later.

    Thought I bought “snowwhite” it’s just what I would do, I always buy a white of everything as well if it’s available. It appears to have done a runner. Always lock your seeds in a safe, curious minds find them irresistible. Given that I open packets and freely scatter (almost everything) Snowwhite will probably feature sometime in the future as someone with a lot more diligence probably decided it was an injustice to let me at them and sowed them in trays over the cool season.
    The reason I scatter is because I can never be sure they will do in my tropical monsoon climate (unless i do). Gardening here is basically all trial and error. Caring for them tenderly, growing them up in trays in exotic peat based German potting soil (a fortune for 70kg bag) only to find they wither and die the minute Spring bursts with its 30%C and 80% humidity is heartbreaking. So I scatter and dream loving the rare occasional surprises this method rewards. The dreams however are most often the most rewarding aspect to this method.

    The coincidence is just amazing because I also scattered one of the other things you mention here (even pressed a few into the soil) Thunbergia alata alba oculata or “white” black eyed Susan. See I do always also buy the white option. Hoping they scramble up the fence. I’ve seen the orange variety growing in the scrub along my road so am feeling confident about this one. They seem to self seed or are longer lived than I knew because the orange one, and it’s lovely, blooms every year.

    On this subject there is a true beauty which I’m almost sure is Thunbergia that grows wild near here. Its a lax skinny vine exactly the same as T alata with the same little leaves with a flower without a black eye. The shape is also not round, same size but very prettily violin shaped being completely flat and titanium white. I always go looking for seed but miss it. I will try and ID it because it’s very desirable completely covered in flower. I recently learnt how you can take a picture with your phone then do a picture search with it and with miraculous accuracy Google finds the exact thing for you and in multiples. This cuts out years of gained botanical expertise painstakingly enlarging tiny sexual bits of flowers. J’adore….I’m eagerly awaiting its flowering this year as at last I may be able to get an ID. Praying all the while some over zealous barbarian with a strimmer hasn’t shredded it to death.

    The Hakka woman employed by the municipality show little interest in flora as long as its shredded and or brewable into a dark, foul smelling tea. Large black hunched over crows with fluttering very wide brimmed flat hats, dangling right around their rim numerous long thick strips of the same black material as their sack cloth. Living scare crows that strim to death anything appearing to dare to want to live. The number of times I’ve thrown myself bodily into their paths screaming and howling I’m truly lucky to be alive myself.

    Thank-you for reminding me about my Thunbergia quest with this write up. I will take a look tomorrow just might find some seed pods as the rains have yet to begin in ernest. It’s lovely how one thing leads to another and another in a never ending winding quest. I have you to thank for finding Jacquemontia pentanthos (and Coleus henna) in Sri Lanka much in the same way. Hope your garden looks as brilliant as ever this year. You always seem to feature in my searches,even though we garden complete opposite ends of the climatic spectrum. Rather nice.

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