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Scientific name: Senecio confusus, Pseudogynoxus confusus, Pseudogynoxus chenopodiodes
Family: Asteraceae / Compositae
Common name: Mexican Flame Vine, Orangeglow Vine
For sheer beauty, this flowering vine is hard to beat. Mexican Flame Vine is a great fast-growing everbloomer and butterfly attractor. The plant is good for beginners since it is drought resistant and hardly bothered by any pests. Minimum care is rewarded with impressive floral displays. It is a vigorous climber with thick evergreen leaves which deep green color provides a rich background for brilliant bright orange daisy-like flowers, borne in clusters. Blooms almost year round, from November through Spring when it is fully covered with gorgeous flowers, then blooms sporadically for the rest of the year.
The vine is originated from Mexico, as the common name indicates. It is a twining vine to 10 feet long with evergreen leaves that are shaped like arrowheads and serrated on the edges – a succulent type leaf similar to German Ivy. They are arranged alternately on the vine and create very dense deep green background for the “flame”. As the flowers age, they change from orange to almost red to be followed by fruiting structures that resemble smaller versions of the dandelion puffy seed heads. This is a nectaring plant for butterflies, especially gulf fritillaries, and is also very attractive to hummingbirds.
The scientific name Senecio confusus translates to “confused” referring to this vine’s rampant habit of growth. The flower is another point of “confusion”, with an unusual-looking tangle of yellow fibers that are actually the styles. Without a support, a “confusion” of stems form a sprawling shrub. It can be also used as a dense groundcover if you let it go without regular trimming or control. It’s a good idea to use Mexican Flame Vine to drape over porch rails or even mailboxes thanks to its drought resistance and very low maintanance requrements. It’s the best choice for improving the visual charm of chain link fences. The vine can be planted as well in mixed hedges to create splashes of bright color. It also looks great clambering up palm or pine tree trunks. Suitable for Xeriscape.
The most profuse blooming is from November through Spring, then the plant blooms sporadically on and off for the rest of the year, leaving only a few weeeks every once in a while for short periods of rest.
Cultivation is very easy. The plant prefers full sun for more profuse blooming, but will also thrive in light shade. Water the young plant until established, then it becomes drought tolerant. Not particular about soil. This tropical vine is killed to the ground by frost, but even in Zone 8B gardens it will recover from roots in spring.
There will be no problems with spread of the vine by seed, but it will run along the ground and root between the leaf nodes. Judicious pruning once or twice a year keeps the vine under control. It normally does not outgrow small gardens and yards.
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