Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket Gardening: More vinous virtuosos

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Asked what “vinous” means, most people would opt for something to do with grape vines or wine. But in fact the epithet can be applied to any kind of vine or climbing plant, of which there are literally hundreds, ranging from creeping figs and ivies to towering tropical lianas. For the gardener, the important distinction is between tendrilous or self-supporting vines, and the kind – scandent is one relevant technical word – that need to be trained or tied to stop them from ending up as a tangled mass of hanging stems with nowhere to go.

As we pointed out before, in our low-maintenance garden the ones that are self-sufficient are a better bet. Passiflora is a case in point. I still have trouble finding this climber in plant nurseries – a shame because it is a most alluring shrub, easy to cultivate and with unique blooms. Though the 400 or so species hail mostly from tropical America, they do well in South East Asia. Vigorous growers, they climb by means of tendrils on their stems, and possess exotic, scented and visually spectacular flowers.

The star-shaped blooms typically have ten-pointed petals, and vary in hue from blue (caerulea) to purplish-white (edulis) and deep red (coccinea and vitifolia). The complex structure of the flower has inspired associations with the Passion of Jesus in Christian mythology – for instance, the tendrils represent the whips used in his flagellation, the three stigmas at the center of the flower stand for the three nails on the cross. The unique floral structure means that pollination is difficult for all but large insects such as carpenter bees or, in America, humming birds. When I had a red passion flower in the garden, alas no more, I noticed that there was a perceptible increase in the number of carpenter bees boring into my trellis.

The fruits of passiflora have a range of medicinal uses, being extremely rich in alkaloids, organic acids and esters. They are becoming increasingly used as a treatment for depression and anxiety disorders. If you have a touch of the blues, your local supermarket has supplies of fresh juice.

This climber likes a well-drained soil and a sunny position. It is good against a wall or fence and will climb happily over a trellis. If a friend has one, try striking it from hard-wood cuttings. Keep a look out for the passion flower as it is well worth a try.

Clerodendrum is another useful, if less spectacular climber. Unlike the passion flower, this woody shrub prefers some shade, and does particularly well draped around the bole of a large tree. It has a bushy habit and produces bunches of crimson or purplish flowers atop masses of dark green foliage.

Since it blooms almost continuously, it is another good choice for the work-shy gardener. One variety, C. thomso-niae, also known as the bleeding heart vine, is smaller and is often grown as a potted specimen. The dense sprays of flowers are white with distinctive red petals. In both species , the seeds turn green and finally black. They can be used to propagate the vine, though potted versions should be easy to find.

There are no yellow passion flowers or clerodendrums, but tristellateia come only in this color. It does share with these other climbers an equable temperament and a propensity for year-round flowering. A robust fellow, it grows vigorously – if you need to cover a fence or wall, the galphimia vine, as it is commonly known, will oblige. Like many fast growers, it needs good soil to flourish and a sunny spot with plenty of organic fertilizer. Once installed, it will produce clusters of five-petaled yellow blooms and lush pale green foliage. It seeds freely, and can also, as with most hard-wood vines, be resurrected from cuttings. Three easy-care vines. More next week… if you have the energy to read about them.

If you have a question or a garden that you would like featured, email the author at:

— Patrick Campbell


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand7 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Sunday: 18,027 infections, expat vaccine registration

Transport13 hours ago

August flight plans: Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, Thai Lion

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

New site for foreigner vaccine; Mor Prom deletes appointments

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Politics16 hours ago

Facebook fake news post suggesting a coup faces prosecution

Koh Samui20 hours ago

UPDATED: Samui Covid-19: 14 new Black Club infections, 2nd small cluster

Thailand21 hours ago

40,000 cases a day could happen by September, says projection

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Phuket21 hours ago

Phuket Sandbox Covid-19 infections: 35 today, 209 this week

Thailand22 hours ago

Prayut says he will not resign, warns politicians to behave

Thailand23 hours ago

Bangkok Train market to possibly close for good

Coronavirus (Covid-19)24 hours ago

Border between Kanchanaburi and Myanmar closed until…

Thailand1 day ago

Covid UPDATE: 18,912 infections, provincial totals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

PCD says don’t throw away used masks in water bottles after infections linked to bottles

Thailand1 day ago

Government says it’s okay to criticise them, if it’s fact based

Thailand1 day ago

Bangkok volunteer group “Sai Mai Will Survive” overwhelmed with calls

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Phuket reservations slow down for August

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8