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Growing Cochliasanthus caracalla (Corkscrew Vine)

Category Flowers
This beautiful flowering vine originates from Central and South America. The distinctive flowers have a fragrance similar to a hyacinth. This is a guide about growing Cochliasanthus caracalla (corkscrew vine).
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September 19, 2017

I've gotten some private messages asking for further information on the corkscrew vine (Vigna Caracalla). I'm making this post so all who are interested can share this information.

The Vigna blooms rather late in the season when grown in the U.S. This is understandable as the US is much farther north than the plant's native tropical habitat. For this reason, I overwintered a plant indoors, rather than starting a new plant from seed in the spring. My purpose was to see if starting with an established plant in the spring would give me blooms earlier than when starting from seed.

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My findings: The established plant produced blooms no earlier in the season than when starting from seed. As of September 19, I'm seeing my first beginnings of a bloom. I am in zone 7b. Plants grown further south may produce blooms a bit earlier, and plants grown further north may bloom a bit later.

I don't think the length of growing time is the only factor here. I'm sure the amount of daylight hours and the incremental shortening of those hours, along with other factors, all play a part in when the plant blooms.

The blooms of the Vigna Caracalla are so beautiful and so unique, most people find the rather long wait to be well worth it.

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August 19, 2016

This vine has the common names, corkscrew vine and snail vine, among others. These two names are rather suitable as the plant bloom is a bit reminiscent of either. However, the corkscrew vine and the snail vine are actually two different plants. The corkscrew vine being 'Cochliasanthus caracalla', and the snail vine being 'Phaseolus giganteus'.

The plant's botanical name is in question. We do know the plant is in the Fabaceae (bean) family. Taxonomists like to move it in and out of the genus, Vigna.

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For now, I will settle for the name, Cochliasanthus caracalla. Cochlia referring to the bloom structure resembling an inner ear structure, the cochlea, and 'caracalla' being derived from the Portuguese 'caracol', meaning snail. 'Caracalla' is easy to say, remember and spell, and since no other plant has this name, it will be my choice of names for this plant. It is said that Thomas Jefferson called the Caracalla, 'The most beautiful bean in the world'.

The Caracalla originates from Central and South America. The often twelve inch clusters of flowers have a fragrance not unlike that of the hyacinth. The vine is said to reach a length of twenty-five feet. The plants I am growing are young, just beginning to bloom, and they have far surpassed that length.

This is my first time to grow Caracalla. The cost of the seed was prohibitive. I did yield to that cost, this year. The final cost for five seeds was about eleven dollars.

Seedsmen 'justify' that cost by reporting the 'rarity' of the seed. The truth is, one seed could easily produce hundreds of seeds. The seed are by no means 'rare'. Later this season, I expect to harvest many more seed than I could ever use. These seeds will be available for free to anyone who should want them.

The pictured bloom is just a few days old. The colors and configuration of the bloom change as it matures. I hope to be adding more pictures to this post as more blooms and clusters of blooms, develop.

This vine can be rooted from cuttings. This is good. I plan to take a cutting and grow it in a pot. I want to see how well it responds to heavy pruning. If it grows and blooms well as a potted plant, I may choose to always grow them that way, because....

I have nowhere to hang my clothes to dry. I have four clotheslines about 25 feet each. These four plants have overtaken all the lines. A small sacrifice, really, though. When that 100 feet are completely covered with 12 inch clusters of beautiful flowers emitting a heavy hyacinth odor, I will be glad to hang my clothes on a nearby tree.

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September 29, 2017

I've done 5 posts on a certain vine and still don't know what to call it. I think it could correctly be called Cochliasanthus caracalla. Having a young wisteria standard (tree form) in my back yard, I decided to keep the Vigna in a 5 gallon bucket and let it grow up and around the wisteria rather than on my clothesline.

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September 21, 2016

ThriftyFun's slogan is 'ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom! My tip: Share that wisdom (and/or knowledge). I am trying to hand fertilize my caracalla flowers and don't know if I am anywhere near to doing it correctly.

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January 30, 2017

This flower is beautiful. It has a delicious fragrance somewhat like the lilac, though much heavier and sweeter. A light breeze will bring a concentration of perfume from this flower to the nose.

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So, what is the name of this pretty and sweetly scented flower?

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January 19, 20170 found this helpful

Bringing tender plants indoors for the winter can help with not having to replace them every year. This is a guide about overwintering corkscrew vine (Cochliasanthus Caracalla or Vigna Caracalla).

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September 7, 2016

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I mentioned earlier in another post that I would be glad to hang my clothes on a tree if these Caracalla vines completely covered my clothes line. Well, that time is just a few days away. Once these things start blooming, they go wild!

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September 9, 2016

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OK, Y'all

This is my last Caracalla picture, this season. If it inspires just one person to grow this beautiful vine next year. I will be happy.

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The vine is tropical. The first freeze will kill it, here in my zone 7b. I hope it will have made seed, by then. In case it doesn't, I'm rooting cuttings to overwinter inside. If they survive, I will see how they do as heavily pruned potted plants. And of course, I will let you all know.

Should I name my next progeny Cara, middle name Calla (with the parents approval, of course, and only if it's a girl)? A sophisticated variation of Cary, if you will. Sounds nice to me. (I may have started a trend, here).

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October 6, 2016

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I don't know what this creature is. Maybe a butterfly? Maybe a moth? In my infinite wisdom, I, in another post, accused this little creature of not knowing what it was doing. It and its kin were feverishly searching the caracalla blooms for nectar, apparently not finding any.

After careful and lengthy observation, I have to admit, my wisdom/knowledge is only par with my fellow beings. These charming little creatures have no knowledge of my ignorance; they just follow the dictates of the program Nature has instilled in them. And they happily find much sweet nectar within the caracalla bloom.

It must be wonderful to be in tune with Nature.

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