My colleague, Keneric Ng, wrote and disseminated yet another article on an interesting flowering vine which he grew from seeds given to him by a friend. Read on and enjoy!
Any warm colours one could possibly imagine, one would be able to find it on the flowers of Ipomoea lobata (syn. Mina lobata), commonly known as the Firecracker Vine or Spanish Flag. It is impossible not to feel the warmth just by looking at this highly ornamental plant from the Morning Glory family (Convolvulaceae). With no typical funnel-shaped corolla, one might not be able to associate this with the Morning Glory family right away but indeed it is, and that is the thrill in the discovery.
Often mistaken as an annual, this fast-growing, sun-loving vine can however be cultivated as a tender perennial in the tropics. Since it is very easily propagated by seeds, one can choose to grow new batch of plants once every few months to keep up the vigor. The young plant starts branching vigorously within 2 to 3 weeks after germination, so pinching is not required to obtain a well spread specimen. By the 5th week, the plant would have covered the support with its numerous trilobed leaves and reddish vines. But do not be alarmed if the plant is not ready to give you flowers just yet. Be patient, and just when you are bored of seeing those leaves/vines…many tiny little spikes (inflorescences) start emerging. And before you know it, the plant is on fire!
On close observation, along with some imagination, each individual inflorescence resembles a skewer. Strange that it has never been commonly known as the Skewer Plant or Skewer-on-the-Grill Plant? Those would have been interesting names to call them.
So, if you want to feel the (oil-free, nectar-rich) sizzle, do pop by the patio of the Lifestyle Corner at HortPark. The plant will be on display there. Catch it while it is sizzling HOT!