Plants that bear the name “Queen” or “King” are often appropriately labeled because of their royal nature. None could be better named than the Queen’s Wreath or Petrea volubilis. This magnificent flowering vine is in flower now. If you have one, enjoy! For the rest of us, why should we be envious?
The Queen’s Wreath is also called sandpaper vine due to its truly sandpapery leaves. This evergreen to deciduous vine is native to Mexico and south into tropical America and the Caribbean, and can grow up to forty feet tall unpruned. Best maintained as a vine-like shrub, a vine trained on an arbor, or even a free-standing small tree, this plant will flower on and off from February to June. We have one blooming right now in our Demonstration Garden off of Harbor View Road, and I see one in flower as well at the History Park in Punta Gorda. The distinctive purple flowers are clustered on racemes up to fourteen inches long. The individual flowers are made up of a center corolla nestled in a calyx. Both are purple-blue in color and even after the center corolla falls off, the calyx remains and maintains its attractive appearance. For something different, there is a rare white cultivar with the same growth habits called ‘Albiflora’. The Queen’s Wreath is even listed as a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ recommended plant.
While I have this vine for sale at the larger garden centers on occasion, you could also look for one at the local family-run garden centers. Plan before you plant as you will want to decide how you will manage your Queen’s Wreath. Our Extension specimen is supported on a wooden pergola which nicely displays its beauty. Maintaining this plant as a shrub or small, multi-branched tree will require some pruning. Also consider using it along a fence, across a gate, in a large container, a gazebo, or even free-form up a tree. No matter how you groom your sandpaper vine, plant it in full sun to part shade for best flowering. Once established, consider this vine to be medium in drought tolerance, but otherwise very carefree and hardy for our area.
Are you jealous yet? This is a truly royal flowering vine! Our Queen’s Wreath is so spectacular that I can even see it from the road! 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://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/Plant%20Clinics%20Schedule.pdf.
Brown, S. H. (2013) Petrea volubilis. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS – Lee County
Gardening Solutions (2017) Queen’s Wreath. The University of Florida Extension Service
Gilman, E. F. ( 1999) Petrea volubilis. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center Plant City Teaching Garden. (2017) Queen’s Wreath. Petrea volubilis.
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design (2010) The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS.