What's Blooming May 1 - 8: New Guinea Trumpet Vine

New Guinea Trumpet Vine
Tecomanthe venusta (Bignoniaceae)
Origin: Papua New Guinea

Blooming out on the fence on Palm Avenue, just north of the Welcome Center, is Tecomanthe venusta, the New Guinea Trumpet Vine. There is one in the conservatory that blooms often, but it’s a rare treat to see the specimen in the garden putting on such a show. Blooming on older wood, it’s a show that you almost have to look for to see. Dozens of pedestrians walk right past this vine every day without noticing that underneath the canopy of leaves are hundreds of trumpet-shaped pink to cream flowers, hanging in pendant clumps, lasting only a short time and then littering the ground below.

The flowers bloom directly on the woody vine, on old wood; so, in order to see it, you need to pull back a curtain of leaves which spill from the top of the fence, and expose the trunk of the vine. This habit keeps the flowers, which are ultra-delicate, safe from the hard rains of its native rainforest habitat. In Papua, the vine sometimes colonizes disturbed sites outside of its normal range, such as roadsides. Tecomanthe is rare in cultivation. Its habit of blooming on old wood makes it an easy vine to grow in a small space, since it can be pruned back hard at any time without sacrificing blooms.