Commonly called the Snail vine or Corkscrew flower, Vigna caracalla is best described as a creeper or climbing vine and it is faster growing than its name suggests.
With flowers that look like a colorful corkscrew, or snail, these tender vines grow well in a warm position in the garden. The flowers are very fragrant with an attractive lilac to jasmine perfume.
The flowers are white and green to start and as they age, they change to a lovely mauve and pink.
It is a tropical to sub-tropical climbing plant, and is vigorous in these conditions. It can grow at 1ft a day and is classed as one of fastest growing vines in warm tropical conditions.
However in cooler climates its behaviour is a little different. In cooler climates it will die back in winter and can be cut back fairly hard at this time. Protect it with straw mulch and it will sprout again in spring.
Vigna caracalla can be grown in containers; just give it a good sized pot and a frame to climb on. You will need to prune to keep it under control; however the fascinating flowers and perfume make the effort very worthwhile.
Excellent for covering a long fence or a wall quickly. It is easy to cut the tendrils back in summer.
Originally from South America and in particular Venezuela, this is an excellent plant for covering a wall or a fence. It grows rapidly after it settles in. You may be a little disappointed with flowering in the first season; however cut it back and it will respond.
The trick is to cut off the leading tendrils, this is when it flowers the best. In warmer climates it will be evergreen, in temperate areas partly deciduous and cooler areas it will need to be overwintered. Only regarded as hardy to USDS Zone 9-12; however, is grown in containers and over wintered in much cooler zones.
When sowing seed, Vigna can be very slow to germinate as the outer coating is tough. We suggest pouring boiling water over the seed and letting it cool overnight. Then plant out into normal soil mix. We have found this gives good germination rates.
- Sunny position
- Moist, humus-rich soil although it does not require a lot of water.
- Prune back the new tendrils and fertilize during flowering in late spring to early summer.
Vigna caracalla or ‘Snail Vine’ is the best known ornamental garden variety of this diverse genus. Some species are used as ornamental plants and others are used in horticulture.
- Vigna caracalla ‘Snail Plant’ used widely as an ornamental plant, purple scented flowers. Is not frost tolerant and dies back in winter.
- Vigna radiata (Mung Bean)
- Vigna marina a creeping plant found on the coastal sand dunes of Queensland and the Northern Territory, a native of Australia.
- Vigna unguiculata the yardlong bean
- Vigna lanceolata a native of Australia known as the ‘ Pencil Yam’
- Vigna sinensis ‘Cowpea’ or ‘Black-eyed pea’ is used widely in cultivation as a food source
- Vigna trilobite used as a pasture crop in India
- Botanical name: Vigna caracalla
- Common name: Snail vine, Corkscrew flower
- Family name: Fabaceae
- USDA zone: 9-12
- Height: 12 to 30 feet
- Spread: 3 to 6 feet
- Growth rate: vigorous
- Soil: Humus rich, moist and well drained
- Light: full sun
- Humidity: high to medium
- Container growing: Yes
- Frost tolerance: no
- Drought tolerant: No