As an avid gardener and plant collector you might think I’m hyper-aware of everything growing in my yard. Sadly, I’m just as busy and forgetful as the next person and don’t always remember what’s out there. The silver lining to the distracted auto-pilot life we find ourselves in is that occasionally you get brought back into the moment by a show stopping surprise in the garden.

Bleeding Heart Vine is one of those garden gems. Planted in the bright shade of a pair of oak trees in my Northwest Florida yard, the dark green foliage blends into the background most of the year, but when it flowers look out! Panicles of 5-20 white and red flowers brighten up the shady garden. As the flowers fade, they turn a deep mauve that is just as attractive as the fresh flowers.

Some vines can be aggressive growers, but in the Florida Panhandle Bleeding Heart Vine is a relatively slow grower reaching about 15 feet at maturity. It is classified as a twining vine, but may need a little help supporting itself on a trellis. This vine lacks tendrils or suckers that some vines use to attach to structures, which makes it a little easier to redirect if it starts to grow in an undesirable direction. Don’t want it to climb? Prune to stimulate branching and it gets more of a sprawling, bushy shape.

Bleeding Heart Vine prefers moist, well-drained soil and high humidity. It is hardy to 45°F and may need protection in the winter. Personal observations of this plant have shown stem dieback in the winter, but it has grown back for multiple years without protection in Northern Bay County.

Reference and further information at Floridata Plant Profile #1053 Clerodendrum thomsoniae

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