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The jade vine is known by several other common names, such as the emerald creeper, the jade creeper, and the flor-de-jade; it is also known by its scientific name, Strongylodon macrobotrys. Considered an evergreen vine, it is native to the Philippines. Many people, especially those living in warmer climates, plant the vine because of its beautiful flowers and its ability to grow quite tall.
This vine produces very distinctive greenish-blue flowers that typically hang in large clusters. In fact, the clusters have been known to hang down nearly 3 feet (about 0.91 m), often ideal for ornamental gardens. The leaves are usually dark green and are about 4 inches (10.16 cm) long. The vine stalk is relatively wide — nearly 1 inch (about 2.54 cm) in width.
Interestingly, the jade vine is related to the kidney bean. It falls in the same scientific family, Leguminosae, as most beans and peas. In fact, although it is loved for its blue-green flowers, it also produces a mid-sized bean pod.
The primary factor affecting the cultivation of the jade vine is climate. It does not grow well in areas where the temperature dips below 60°F (about 15.6°C). It also requires full sunlight, though its roots prefer to be in areas that are at least partly shaded. In addition, during the spring and summer months, the vine prefers to have plenty of water. The soil should drain well to prevent waterlogging the plant as well.
It also is often necessary to provide the jade vine with fertilizer. When it is young, it usually requires a fertilizer that has high levels of phosphorus. Then, as the plant becomes increasingly mature, it can benefit from the same fertilizer as is used for other trees, shrubs, and plants in the garden. In addition, if it becomes unruly, the jade vine may need to be pruned once or twice a year.
Although it is primarily used as an ornamental vine in gardens and landscaping plans, the flowers also serve other purposes. For example, since the color of the blossoms is so unique, they are also used to make flower leis, such as those made in Hawaii. In addition, the flowers attract bees and butterflies.
Sadly, the jade vine is quite vulnerable when growing in the wild, particularly in its native country of the Philippines. Some reports indicate that only a small percentage of the rainforest remains because of deforestation. As a result, the jade vine is primarily found in gardens, greenhouses, and other controlled botanical environments.
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