Tara A. Spears
The stand-out Brazilian Flame (Pyrostegia venusta) is a vigorous trellis climber with attractive foliage and gorgeous bright orange tubular flowers. It branches profusely and climbs by clinging with its tendrils. This species is easy to grow, and best suited to warm coastal areas where you can provide a sunny spot with protection from cold winds and frost. It’s also quite drought hardy once established besides being pest and disease resistant.
Brazilian Flame is a superb choice for a warm weather seasonal home: its peak bloom time is when you visit and it grows quite well by itself when you’re away. Another perk of including this plant in your garden is that it attracts several species of hummingbirds and butterflies. This South American native plant is commonly cultivated throughout the tropics and other frost-free regions of the world, where it can become naturalized.
The mass of foliage can get quite weighty, especially when rain soaked, so your support needs to be strong. Any solid fence is ideal, particularly steel mesh types which provide the perfect frame or block wall enclosures. Pergolas are good too and look attractive when the flowers hang from edges of the frame. I’ve also seen Brazilian Flame vine used to camouflage eye-sores in a yard by creeping up an old shed, carport, and even a rusty old propane tank. All this plant needs is a little encouragement early on to lead the vine in the desired direction and then let it do its thing.
You might expect such a vigorous and resilient plant to be qualified as ‘potentially uncontrollable’ (think bamboo or mint). Brazilian Flame is actually one of the more civilized creeping vines, not rampant in the same way a bougainvillea or wisteria can be. All it takes is a bit of light pruning every year in spring to keep it contained. The prunings are soft and easy to handle and make excellent material for the compost heap. In Brazil, the leaves of Pyrostegia venusta are used in traditional medicine as a tonic and for treating diarrhea.
The festive orange trumpet creeper or Brazilian Flame vine is a showy, low maintenance addition to your tropical winter garden.