Pink and white flowers on a tropical vine. Captured at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, Florida, USA.
Quisqualis indica – Rangoon Creeper
Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :
Botanical Name: Quisqualis indica L. (syn. Quisqualis densiflora)
Common Name: Rangoon Creeper, Rangoon Creeper Vine, Burma Creeper, Drunken Sailor, Scarlet Ragoon, Chinese Honeysuckle
Family name: Combretaceae (Indian Almond family)
Etymology: Quisqualis translated from Latin, means What is that?.
Origin: Burma, Peninsula Malaysia, New Guinea and the Philippine Islands.
Plant type: Tropical perennial ornamental vine
Features: Quisqualis indica, of the genus Quisqualis, is an exceptionally impressive tropical vine, with a few varieties, distinguishable by its flower colour and leaf size. It can reach 21 m in the wild, but generally its length in cultivation ranges between 2-9 m. A large, woody and shrubby climber over pergolas, trellises, etc. and yet can be trained as a specimen shrub.
It is an evergreen (in the tropics) and rambunctious vine, free branching and vigorous-growing, needing sturdy support.
Under good growing conditions, it’s typically seen with lush and fresh green foliage on cascading branches with numerous axillary and terminal drooping racemose inflorescence that is simply spectacular.
Leaves with distinct venation, are oblong to elliptic, 7-15 cm in length, with acuminate tip and rounded base. They are simple and opposite.
It blooms profusely and non-stop too, all year round in the tropics. The original Rangoon Creeper with thorny stems produces single flowers in red while the Thai hybrid has double flowers, and both exude an intoxicating fragrance at night as an added bonus.
The beautifully coloured flower clusters with pendulous trumpet-shaped blooms open first white, then turn pink and end deep pink, bright red or reddish purple over a 3-day period, displaying the various colouring stages altogether on one and the same flower stalk. Very unusual and definitely dramatic too!
Its fruit is narrowly ellipsoidal, 2.5-3 cm long, with 5 sharp, longitudinal angles or wings. The 12-15mm long seeds are pentagonal (shaped like the fruit-shell) and black.
Culture (Care): Since Quisqualis indica or Rangoon Creeper is an easy to grow vining plant, it’s now more popularly and widely cultivated as an ornamental vine in the gardens.
Light: Prefers full to part sun and blooms best with good sunlight.
Moisture: Water moderately and regularly, keeping it evenly moist. More water during hot seasons and less in cooler clime. Fairly drought tolerant when established.
Soil: Fertile humus soil with a mix of sand that can retain water, yet well-drained soil.
Others: Require regular pruning to keep it within control, as well as to encourage more blooms with new branches as flowers appear on new growth. You’d observe newer shoots emerging from the base of the vine – remove them if you’d rather have one main strong stem continuing its growth at the top, otherwise leave them be to promote bushiness near its base. Require fortnightly or monthly feed with a flowering fertilizer to boost flowering. Relatively free from pests and diseases.
For subtropical regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone 10-12. A tender evergreen that goes semi dormant or die back in lower temperature, but come back when weather warms up in spring. Flowers all summer and fall. Read what the gardeners have to say at Dave’s Garden
Propagation: Easily by seeds, cuttings and layering. Suckers that emerge from the parent plant can be used to propagate new plants.
Usage: Use Rangoon Creeper or Chinese Honeysuckle to cover and decorate garden fences, trellises, arbors and arches.
Can be espaliered on walls or pillars at porch/entrance to homes and buildings to add interest and provide garden fragrance too. An ideal landscape vine that can be grown on ground or containers and can be trained as a shrub. An attractant for butterflies and bees, not sure about hummers though. Grow in greenhouses or outdoors in the mildest subtropical regions.
Quisqualis indica is used for traditional medicine in certain regions. Leaves can be used to relieve pain caused by fever while the roots to treat rheumatism. Read more at Wikipedia and Philippine Medicinal Plants on its traditional uses.