This time of year there are a lot of beautiful colors throughout the area. The queens wreath vine is one of the most colorful. This easy care vine is not going to be in the big box stores - you may have to even have a garden center order it for you.
Check it out on the Web through the Lee County Extension Service and you will see photos of the vine, as a tree, shrub, lazing flat against a wall and great along a fence.
The queens wreath family, Verbenaceae, Petrea volubilis, is a native to Mexico and is found throughout the Caribbean.
The long, dangling, pinecone-shaped collection of single blue or violet blossoms will remind you of the wisteria plant, or the longtime favorite, northern lilac.
It grows well in zones 8 to 11, loves the sun and is drought tolerant once established.
When planting, water it well for awhile, not daily, but often. It will be 2 to 3 years before it will show its true beauty, so get started now.
It will not need a lot of fertilizer, a 10-10-10 with just regular good draining soil. Spread the fertilizer around the base and water it in about every 3 or 4 months. This will assure the new growth will be lush and healthy. A little mulch is alway good after it is settled in.
This is a multi-stem, woody vine, mostly smooth and a light tan. The leaves are sturdy and a good green, making a good backdrop for the flowers.
The leaves are very coarse and stiff and even though the plant is an evergreen, sometimes just before the first flush of blooms, many leaves may fall off. No to worry, new ones will come right along very fast.
The blooming time is mostly from June through fall, however, there can be intermittent bloom periods as well.
As the blossoms fade, they stay attached and turn a light gray color before turning darker and falling off. You will see a mass of violet with a cluster of gray as the aging proceeds. It is attractive and not a messy problem.
There are many pollinators. Yes, a bee or two. The one I am around during gardening has one or two little bees and they are very busy having their lunch and are not easily distracted.
I have never grown one of these plants. They looked like something that I would not be successful with, so just never tried. I wish I had tried now that I am around one a lot and see its beauty and use so much.
They do require a firm, sturdy arbor, fence or trellis, against a building wall, or just growing next to a friendly tree is fine as it twines its way up the tree.
A single specimen on a stout frame will be lovely with its multi-vine supporting an umbrella of violet dangling blooms.
Check out the Lee County Extension Website and see great photos of area queens.
There is also a white queens wreath, same family, same care, but ask for albifloro. Sometimes you get a big shock when you order something and do not know the proper ID.
Pests are not a real problem here, maybe some hungry critters such as caterpillars. A bunch can be swished off with the hose plus they do not really damage the plant, just chew on a few leaves. No need to spray.
March in the Park is going to be held Saturday, March 11, in Cape Coral at Jaycee Park along the river. Plants, garden items, great food and free parking, also a special table for the kids.
The park has a very nice sidewalk so it is easy for everyone to get around. Raffles and just a great day. Starts at 9 a.m. and ends about 3 p.m. Workers like me will be setting up early, 7 a.m. My only day of the year to be outside the condo door by 6 a.m.
Take a break from chores and enjoy this early spring weather.
Happy gardening till we meet again.
H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.