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Overwintering Corkscrew Vine

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


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Some friends have expressed an interest in growing Vigna Caracalla outside and overwintering them inside. I have a tip or two on that subject. These vines are perennials in their native Central American and tropical South American climes. In temperate regions, they require winter protection when grown as perennials.

In temperate regions, Vigna c blooms rather late in the year, usually around September. I overwintered a large plant in a 5 gallon bucket to see if I would get blooms earlier than I would, had I started by planting seed indoors mid winter or outside early spring. The established plant did not bloom any earlier. It is my experience that hoping to get earlier blooms is not a good reason to overwinter Vigna c.


Not having to buy seed yearly is a good reason to overwinter this vine. My first purchase of seed was with a price I found almost prohibitive. I will add that the price has come down quite a bit with some sellers. You will have to shop around the Internet to find these better deals.

The main reason I would overwinter these vines is to eventually get a large root stock that would produce many more blooms than a vine grown annually. A large root stock is what my main tip is all about.

Growing a vine from seed will produce a root stock the first year large enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket. With large enough drain holes, the roots will escape the bucket and grow another 5 feet into the ground. These escaped roots can be cut back to the bucket before bringing the plant inside.

With this in mind, a container no less than a 5 gallon bucket should be considered for growing these vines. A whisky barrel would be much better.

There is an alternative to overwintering a large plant or growing plants annually from seed. Cuttings from Vigna c root readily and can be taken during the bloom period and later as long as the weather is still warm. Not only will the cuttings root readily in soil or soilless mediums, they will easily root in water.

These cuttings can be grown inside overwinter and planted outside after all danger of frost is past. While the resulting plants will not bloom any earlier, a larger root stock than one grown from seed should produce more blooms.

The pictured cutting was rooted in water with nothing added. The root system has developed to just the right size for transferring to a pot with a good growing medium.

Hope you like my blue jean backdrops. That's about as close to a Nino Cerutti suit as this ol' boy is gonna get.

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In an earlier post, I mentioned how expensive Cochliasanthus Caracalla seed were. I bought some, anyway. I mentioned in the post that when I harvested my own seed, I would be more than glad to share with anyone who wanted them.

I spoke too soon. While growing these plants, I learned that they almost never pollinate themselves. Hence, they almost never produce seed, naturally. By the time I learned this, and then learned how to hand pollinate the flowers, it was too late.


I did successfully hand pollinate several flowers and they did produce tiny seed pods. But it was too late in the season for the seeds to mature and ripen before frost.

Not wanting to pay far too much for seed, again, I decided to try overwintering a couple plants. If they survived, I wouldn't have to buy seed, plus I would have some established plants in the spring. That should mean earlier flowering and an earlier chance to hand pollinate the flowers.

I did find a much cheaper source for seed, and as extra insurance I bought another ten ($5.00 & free shipping). They can be purchased on Ebay.

I won't make such a bold statement, again. This time, I will wait and see if I do harvest seed, and if I do, I will then offer them again to fellow ThriftyFun members.

This post is also a follow up on the plants I'm trying to overwinter. First, let me say, these plants have a large root system. My pots were sitting on the ground. When I lifted them to bring them inside, I found that roots had escaped through the drain holes and continued to grow, some as much as five feet. So, if you plan to grow your own and plan to overwinter them inside, do make sure they are in 5 gallon buckets. I had to trim several feet of roots before bringing them in.

The top picture shows one of the plants I brought in. I cut off about 20 feet of vine, leaving about one foot. It sat for two weeks and did nothing. I gave it water. Overnight, it grew two feet! I was shocked, I even told my ag agent about it. Since then, I've had to cut back several inches almost every day. I am confident this plant will make it through the Winter. And as the sunlight is already getting stronger, I will take then outside when the light is bright and the temperature is above forty degrees.

This plant is easily propagated. The bottom picture shows a side shoot I rooted. I forgot about it and the frost killed the top. I brought it inside, anyway. In a few days it produced a tiny side shoot. It too, should make it through the Winter. I will keep you posted.

For those of you who didn't read my earlier post or are not familiar with this exceptionally beautiful and heavily scented flower, here is a link to the post and some nice pictures.


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