Vigna caracella

The Snail Vine - Cochliasanthus caracalla syn. Vigna caracalla
The Snail Vine – Cochliasanthus caracalla syn. Vigna caracalla

Wonderful corkscrew shaped flowers make the snail vine Cochliasanthus caracalla (syn. Vigna caracalla) a great climbing plant for growing in containers or in the garden or as a trailing plant in hanging baskets.

It flowers from early summer to fall depending on the climate, pearly pink to lavender flowers, with a fascinating shell or corkscrew shaped flower make this a standout in the garden.

It is fast growing, grows well and flowers well in light shade, and is easy care as well.

How to Grow the Snail Vine

This is a plant from tropical areas of central and South America, so growing conditions do need to be warm and protected.

  • Temperature/Humidity
    Any prolonged temperatures below 60F (15C) can cause the plant to begin to die back. Ideally no less than 72 F. (22 C.) and with no cold winds or drafts.
  • Soil
    A humus rich well drained soil with some moisture through spring and summer is best.
  • Light
    For best growth and good flowering around 6 hours of full sun a day is recommended. In shaded positions the snail vine flowers poorly.
  • Watering
    Regular watering is required from spring through summer, however not wet soggy soils.
  • Fertiliser
    A general purpose slow release fertiliser applied in spring is recommended. A low nitrogen liquid fertiliser applies from mis=d spring through summer will promote better flowering.
  • Pruning
    This is vigorous plant that’ll require regular pruning in most situations.
    Prune away any dead or damaged growth as it appears.
    Prune the plant back in summer as the plant reaches its best size for the position. This will encourage more side shoots and more flowers.
    You can prune away some of the older wood every few years as needed.

Over wintering

In colder zones you will need to overwinter the snail vine indoors. 
In pots cut the vine back to a manageable size and overwinter indoors in a warm position.

If you are growing the plant in the ground, before the first fros, prune it back to around 2ft, dig out the rootball and place it in a pot, water once and keep it indoors in a warm position

How to promote more Blooms

Deadhead regularly and fertilize as recommended


Propagation can be from seeds or from cuttings.

Propagation from cuttings

6 inch cuttings taken in early spring work well.

  • Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone powder
  • Place the cutting in a 50/50 mix of potting soil and perlite and keep moist.
  • Mist spray every day.
  • Use a mini greenhouse of cloche to help maintain humidity.

Propagation from seed

Growing from seed is fairly easy

  • In late winter to to early spring soak the seeds overnight in a liquid seaweed fertiliser.
  • Sow on the surface of a normal potting mix.
  • Cover lightly and keep warm and moist.
  • Keep in good filtered light.
  • Seeds should germinate in 2 – 3 weeks.