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A fine vine is the sky vine

By Ralph E. Mitchell

It is good to know the botanical name of a plant as the common name can be varied and confusing.  For instance, the plant known as Thunbergia grandiflora, is commonly known as the Bengal clockvine, Bengal trumpet, blue sky flower, blue Thunbergia, blue trumpet vine, clock vine, sky flower and sky vine.  For our purposes, let’s just call it the sky vine.  A fast-growing and beautiful flowering vine, the sky vine has abundant lavender-blue flowers that will mark your landscape as a must-see for passersby.  Have your heard of this plant?

The sky vine is probably more common than you think as it often shows up in yards with a fence that needs covering.  Twining rapidly during the growing season, but slowing to a near standstill during the cooler part of the year, the sky vine makes rampant and vigorous growth for quick coverage of arbors, trellises, and fences.  Growing in sun or part- shade, it is known to do well even with some shade especially during the heat of the summer.  The heart-shaped leaves are dark-green in color and less than two-inches wide.   The jewels of this vine are the sky-blue to lavender-blue flowers measuring up to three inches long with whitish throats that develop in attractive clusters.  While sky-blue is the most common color, there is also a white-flowering cultivar available.

Besides using the sky vine on a trellis or fence, also consider using it as a container plant, as a screen or even positioned to spill and cascade over a wall.  There are also suggestions of using the sky vine in combination with cannas, ferns and around or about water gardens.

The sky vine is hardy in our area, but can be frost damaged with quick recovery being the norm.  It is incredibly easy to propagate from cuttings or air-layering.  The sky vine will benefit from regular watering and may require some pruning to keep it in bounds.  Its aggressive nature can make it a bit invasive, so manage this plant to prevent its escape.

The sky vine is an incredibly beautiful vine that will provide a wall of color and texture for that special vertical space in your yard.  For more information on all types of flowering vines suitable for our area, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.  Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area.  Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times – http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/files/2018/01/Plant-Clinics-Schedule.pdf .

Resources:
Gilman, E. F. (1999) Thunbergia grandiflora.  The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS. 
Scheer, J. (2009) Thunbergia grandiflora.  Floridata.com, Tallahassee, FL.
Thunbergia grandiflora.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunbergia_grandiflora .
Photo by Tyler Jones

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