Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

The Best Year Ever: Madeira Vine Atop the Pergola



The late-season flowers of Madeira vine are a challenge. Borne at the tips of twining stems that can lengthen many yards over the Summer, they could be almost out of sight if the vine's relentless upward growth is allowed to climb vertically. This year, I provided mostly horizontal support: A pergola.


In the picture below, you can see the twenty-foot tripod, immediately to the right of the house, that hosted the Madeira vine last year. The show was impressive, but the flowers were only at the very top. Training the vine as a canopy over the central pergola not only brought the floral display into easy view without having to use a jet-pack or a bucket truck. It also created a display that was much larger: An entire canopy of bloom, not just a tripod tip of it. 




Madeira vine grows from long-lived underground tubers, so I keep my colony in a large pot year after year. Anredera cordifolia isn't reliably hardy when growing in the ground in locations with climates colder than Zone 7, and would certainly not be hardy growing in a container anywhere colder than Zone 8. So I move my container into frost-free shelter for the Winter. The stems die to the ground each Fall, so the container doesn't need exposure to light.


This past Spring, I set the pot beneath the center pergola, and provided four ten-foot sections of rebar for the twining stems to race up. They reached the pergola's canopy by early July. Because the stem's natural habit is to grow upward, I needed to guide the stems out over the pergola, tying young growth into place as needed. If the tip of a stem is clearly higher than the stem's lower portion, that tip produces a hormone that inhibits growth of side stems lower down. If that tip is lowered—or clipped away—its growth-inhibiting hormone is eliminated, and lower stems begin lengthening. Happily, training the stems to a greater-than-usual horizontality also allowed countless side stems to become active. I didn't guide all of these side stems onto the pergola, and they continued to grow even as their increasing length weighed them downward. In flower, they brought graceful notes of vertical floral display to the canopy's overall side-to-side show.




By September, the canopy of growth had covered the pergola. The combination of shortening days and lack of success in growing still higher caused the stems to switch from forming more leaves to forming buds.




Two weeks later, thousands of white flowers had emerged.




The flowers are as tiny as they are innumerable.




They have a honey fragrance.




For years, I had trained 'Eddie's Jewel' rose atop this pergola. It flowered only in late Spring, and for the rest of the season offered just boring foliage. But Eddie died—and also fell out of commerce in North America, so I couldn't buy another. Having Anredera cordifolia clothe this pergola maintained interest all season long. May through August, the question was, "What is that scary vine growing from that huge pot?" And in September—heavens!—there were now a zillion buds atop that pergola, that in October opened to a zillion flowers. It's easy to have a pergola drip with flowers in Spring: Plant roses or wisteria or clematis. Trumpet vines make it easy to have plenty of flowers in July and August.


In October? Moon vine or Madeira vine are your choices.




When its growth can lengthen and ramify without swamping the neighbors, Madeira vine creates a display that is exciting whether seen from inches away or from across the garden.


Here's the show last year, when I let Madeira vine race up my twenty-foot tripod, then burst into bloom.

Here's the show when the tripod of Madeira vine was in bud—only at the top, and not starting until September.

Here's how to grow Madeira vine without worrying that it will overrun your garden or your neighborhood.


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