All you need to know about this easy to grow, absolutely stunning vine. Strange and quirky, but an absolute stunner!

Easy to grow and an absolute treasure in the garden

Snail vine (Cochilasanthus caracalla) originally from Central and South America, is an easy to grow vine that will cover an arch, pergola or any garden structure in no time … providing a cool, soft shaded environment with an abundance of very fragrant snail-shaped flowers. The stems will twirl around a structure by itself.

A snail vine is a leguminous plant with root nodules that contain symbiotic bacteria that are able to fix Nitrogen in the soil. Other plants growing in the near vicinity will benefit greatly from this source of Nitrogen.

Snail vines grow quickly once established and will rapidly cover a trellis or a pergola. Due to its rapid growth rate, the plant may need to be trimmed from time to time to keep it under control. Organic fertilizer may be applied during the growing season; however, it is not essential. This stunning vine flourishes in warmer regions and will twine itself around any support structure it can find.

Growing conditions and helpful tips

Snail vines prefer full sun and in ideal conditions can reach a height up to 6m or more. Snail vine is not too fussy about a particular soil pH, but needs to be planted in well drained soil. It is important to water adequately while growing actively, preferring watering once a week, especially during dry spells. Another helpful tip is to place a thick layer of mulch around your snail vine that will assist with keeping the soil moisture and will also help to suppress annoying weed growth. The fragrant flowers are not the only perk this plant offers, as this plant is mostly resistant to the most common garden pests and diseases.

Once the seed pods dry and split open they release masses of seeds that can become a bit of a nuisance as they germinate very easily. Remove the seed pods (legumes) as soon as they start developing to stimulate a further production of these unusual flowers as well as to control the spread of unwanted seeds.

Snail vines are sensitive towards frost and will die back, often dying off completely. The vine will sometimes regrow from the main stems, but in areas with severe frost, this fast growing vine can easily be regrown from seed. This will also create the perfect time to do maintenance work on your pergola or garden structure, ensuring it is in tip-top shape for the coming summer months. Snail vines are also a good choice of plant to regulate climate control, providing shade in the summer months and sun in the winter months when it dies back.

Contact Mercury Designs for more information

We do suggest allowing one seed pod to develop for the following year’s growth. Tie an old stocking around the seed pod to catch up all seeds when they are released.  We do have seeds available at our office in Boksburg. Please contact us at (011) 894 2430 or for more information.