Photo: Brendan C (flickr)
Here in the Midwest as April wanes, we are beginning to think about the annuals we will plant in May, once all danger of frost is past. I have some arbors that need climbers to cover them quickly, so I will probably plant at least one Mandeville vine.
Mandevillas are vigorous and fairly tough plants, but since they are tropical they are used as annuals in regions that have cold winters.
They are susceptible to mealybugs if kept indoors, so I usually buy a new one each year rather than trying to keep them indoors over the winter. If you do keep one indoors always prune it back hard to keep it in check.
When all danger of frost is past, I plant one in my garden next to an arbor so it can climb easily. They need to put out several feet of new growth in order to start blooming, as they bloom on new wood.
One often sees them displayed for sale outside grocery stores, and they come in reds and pinks and white. Last year for the first time I picked the individual flowers and used them indoors, and to my surprise I found that they lasted well.
I have a clear glass bowl that I bought at a garage sale for 25 cents some years ago that has a well in its base to hold water. I floated several mandevilla flowers in this bowl, with the trumpet-shaped flower faces turned upwards and often used them as easy centerpieces on my dining room table.
I particularly liked the look of the dark red flowers in the clear glass bowl. They were quite striking. Sometimes I combined them with small short-stemmed zinnia blooms in either matching or contrasting colors.
Mandevilla flowers are interesting to observe from varied perspectives: either from the ground as one looks up at the flowers covering an arbor or trellis, or from above as one looks down on then in a bowl.