Plant mandevilla now for a big show all season.

Is your garden thirsty for some tropical punch? Look to mandevilla. This prolific vine twines around any structure, and its large blossoms are knockouts. Growing it in a container allows you to place it in the garden wherever it's needed. Plus, where it isn't winter hardy, you can take it indoors to save it for next year.

More Than Just Flowers
Much is made of mandevilla's blooms, but it also has wonderful foliage. Dark green leaves can grow 8 inches long and 3 inches wide. Thick, leathery, and rumpled, they create a coarse-textured backdrop for the smooth, silky flowers.

Basic Needs
After it gets going in spring, mandevilla blooms relentlessly. Keep it happy by giving it fertile soil and full sun. Feed every two to three weeks with water-soluble 20-20-20 plant food. Evenly moist soil is key.

This vine is popular along the coast because it tolerates some salt spray. Place it behind the first line of dunes to give it some protection.

Mandevilla is hardy in the Tropical South and root hardy in the Coastal South. In the Lower, Middle, and Upper South, bring it inside for the winter, and place it near a sunny window. If an unexpected freeze kills it, don't worry. Home and garden centers sell hundreds every spring, and small plants in 1-gallon pots are cheap.

Good To Know
Years ago, the only mandevilla you could buy was ‘Alice du Pont.' Boasting spectacular pink blossoms with deeper pink throats, it's still the standard, but now you can get more colors. These are our favorites.

  • ‘Summer Snow': white blooms that turn pink in cool weather (pictured above)
  • ‘Moonlight Parfait': huge, semidouble, white flowers with pink throats
  • ‘Pink Parfait': very large, double, hot pink flowers
  • ‘Best Red': flowers that open pink and deepen to red
  • ‘Tango Twirl': double, pink flowers held in upright clusters

"Mighty Fine Vine" is from Southern Living's Container Gardening.