Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Lucky find - Flaming Glorybower Vine (Clerodendron splendens)

I first fell in love with this red-flowering vine during my plant-seeking trip to Brisbane in July 2011 and took this photo:

Getting my hands on one proved quite a challenge. Even in Brisbane it was uncommon. I called around nurseries to no avail. Finally I found a place that said they could get it in for me and when they did, I eagerly purchased not one but three. I planted them around the yard and they did well. Disappointment ensued, however when they flowered and revealed their true identity - they were not the strikingly beautiful Clerodendrum splendens but the rather average-looking Clerodendrum speciosum.

However, destiny was on my side. First I happened to discover the vine I wanted growing in the volunteer nursery at the Sydney Botanic Gardens. The staff reported that the showy vine is often requested by customers but they have never been able to get cuttings to strike. I offered to try, but no amount of cajoling or begging could convince them to give me a bit. Finally one member of staff did kindly give me a few cuttings - on the proviso that should they strike, I give her one.

That was two months ago and I happy to report that most are still green and appear to be rooting.

Yet as luck would have it, I found a much larger specimen for the taking. Driving along busy Parramatta Road, I spotted one large vine growing at a petrol station, sandwiched between the air pump and some kind of vent:

                                                (the immature buds have a dark-pink hue)

The indifferent staff were happy to let me take as much as I liked - no begging necessary. I did help myself to several suckers (yes, the plant suckers). They have been planted in sterile propagation mix and I am awaiting their new growth.

Once a fairly common plant, the Flaming Glorybower vine is now very old fashioned and thus hard to find - a pity considering its beauty and hardiness (it tolerates drought, heat and cold).

So although it took almost a year, I have finally got my hands on this beauty!


  1. That looks similar to a plant we have here, it attract lots of butterflies. I have also tried cuttings, and they do not seem to take very easily. You look as though you might have success at last.

  2. Yes, the Friends of the Sydney Botanic Gardens nursery have had no luck with cuttings, which is strange as it is very vigorous. I have had luck with equal parts sand and peat moss and by covering the pot with the bottom of a coke bottle. It is such a rewarding, easy-to-grow old fashioned plant that should be seen more than it is.


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