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What is a Bower Vine?

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  • Written By: Terrie Brockmann
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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Originally, this tropical, twining climber was found only in its native areas of Australia, including New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. Now, the bower vine, or Pandorea jasminoides, is a favorite of many gardeners around the world. It is a tropical rain forest plant, and in other climates must be grown in a greenhouse. Gardeners value it for its beautiful, fragrant tubular flowers that usually have white petals and deep pink or crimson throats.

The bower vine is a vigorous grower. Gardeners generally plant it on a trellis or arbor, where it may grow to 15 feet (about 5 m) or more. It has wiry stems that branch from a single trunk. The vine does not fill a space densely, giving an airy appearance and mottled shade to any plants that grow under it.

Gardeners typically appreciate the bower vine for its showy flowers and attractive, bright green foliage. The tubular flowers open to five spreading petal-like lobes that are often about 1.5 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) across. Usually, the upper two lobes are smaller than the lower three. In most tropical climates, they bloom from spring to summer, though some gardeners report having blooms later in the year. Often, they grow in clusters called panicles.

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The leaves of this evergreen vine are usually pinnate, meaning they are compound leaves that are composed of leaflets. These leaflets frequently grow from a central stem, called an "axis." The bower vine leaflets are glossy, bright green, and lance shaped. Typically, there are three leaflets to each bower vine leaf, and they may grow on a long, red stem. In some varieties or cultivars, the leaves are a lighter green and edged with a white to creamy white color.

Buyers may want to research the plant before purchasing it to ensure they are getting the plant they want. Many growers refer to the vine as a "bower plant." Sometimes nurseries and growers inaccurately use another Pandorea species name — P. pandorana, or wonga wonga vine — to label it. Some botanists and growers call it Bignonia jasminoides after the genus family Bignoniaceae, or bignonia. Others attribute it to the Podranea genus, which also belongs to the Bignoniaceae family.

There are many cultivars of the bower vine. Bower plants 'White' and 'Lady Di' have white blooms that have creamy-yellow to yellow throats. The 'Rosea' variety has pink flowers with deeper rose throats. The 'Rosea Superba' variety produces up to 2.5-inch (about 6-cm) long pink flowers that often sport purple-spotted, rose-colored throats, and the 'Alba' variety has pure white flowers.

Growing bower vines usually is not difficult. Gardeners often propagate the plant by sowing the seeds in the spring, or by rooting greenwood cuttings in the summer. It generally grows in tropical climates where temperatures do not fall below 40°F (about 4.5°C). It typically prefers areas of full sunlight as well.

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