Saturday, March 27, 2010

I've Been Working on the Railroad

My Florida Backyard received this lovely little trellis as a present a few years ago, and we've been trying ever since to find a vine worthy of it. We tried bougainvillea (too poky for the work involved of twining it through the trellis), blue passionvine (too skimpy to cover it nicely), and a couple of others. The latest attempt is a cool Florida native called Railroad Vine.

I picked up this little guy at a St. Pete native plant nursery called Twigs & Leaves. I first learned about it at the Pinellas County Botanical Gardens, where it was mentioned in a display of great native plants. I realized I'd seen it on the beach many times, a long trailing vine with pink blooms, and always loved it without actually knowing its name. I determined to give it a try if I ever came across it... The time is here!

According to the folks over at Floridata, this vine is a member of the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae). Its scientific name is Ipomoea pes-caprae, which means "goat's foot", a reference to the shape of the leaves. It grows in tropical regions all over the world, and loves sandy soil - it's an important plant on the beach where it helps to stabilize the dunes. It's highly drought and salt tolerant, and thrives in full sun.

The runners extend over 100 feet, so it will obviously require some pruning in My Florida Backyard to keep it in check. The lovely pink blooms happen year round, but peak from May to November, so we look forward to seeing the show - we'll certainly keep you posted when the first flowers appear.

It's always exciting to try a new plant, especially a Florida native that stands a good chance of doing well. As the warm days of spring finally arrive, gardening once again is heartening instead of heart-breaking!


  1. I've seen railroad vine growing along the ground at the beach. It will be interesting to see if it will grow up your trellis.