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Tecomanthe hillii - Fraser Island Creeper

Tecomanthe hillii - the Fraser Island Creeper - is a spectacular vine from Queensland, Australia, where it is rare.  Each winter & spring it's loaded with rosy, bell shaped blooms in a circular, skirt-like arrangement.  When grown over an arbor or trellis, it makes an amazing floral display.  The plant is quite rare in cultivation, and seldom seen for sale.

Tecomanthe hillii - Fraser Island Creeper

"Fraser Island Creeper" is somewhat of a misnomer, because the plant climbs rather than creeps along the ground.  It twines itself around any narrow support, including other plants, however it doesn't smother them.  Unlike most vines, the flowers emerge directly from the woody stems, not from the shoots.  The big, 3 inch blossoms are a delightful reddish-pink, with a creamy white throat.  The vine is attractive even without blooms, thanks to its glossy, hand-shaped leaves.

Tecomanthe hillii - Fraser Island Creeper

It comes from a warm climate, where temperatures are usually between 60 and 90F (16-32C).  It tolerates cooler conditions, and even a degree or two of frost, but it grows best in warmer temps.  It can take anything from full sun down to bright shade, but seems to be happiest mid-way, with a bit of afternoon shade.  It's a vigorous vine, but it's not rampant and it's easily controlled.  It grows well in a pot in moist, well-draining soil that is low in lime.  Like with many Australian plants, avoid high-phosphorus fertilizers, and high doses of fertilizer in general.  Over about 50% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy plant.

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Photos courtesy of Max Fulcher

 

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