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June 2010
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Snail Vine or Vigna caracalla or CorkScrew Vine:characteristics, growing and planting conditions.

Vigna caracalla is leguminous vine from the family Fabaceae, originating in tropical South America and Central America. The species is named caracalla, meaning that it comes from Caracas in Venezuela. This perennial vine has fragrant flowers is a common misconception (though there may be hybrid varieties as such) – said to be reminiscent of hyacinths – with a distinctive curled shape, giving rise to the common names corkscrew vine, snail vine or snail bean.

Characteristics of Snail/CorkScrew Vine or Vigna Caracalla

– The snail vine is an attractive vine and features a flower that bears a resemblance to a snail, hence the name.
– The flowers are very attractive, as are the vines themselves, but the flowers are not fragrant.
– The flowers of the corkscrew plant, P. caracalla, are fragrant.
– The snail vine in some locations can be very aggressive, especially since if the vines are allowed to touch the ground, and that can easily happen with a rapid grower, they will more often than not set roots.
– Once established, the snail vine can be difficult to get rid of, and in a tropical or very warm climate, can take over your yard, and your neighbors as well.
– The corkscrew plant is also a very rapid grower, but much better behaved and seldom becomes invasive.
– It generally dies back in winter, doesn’t really do well below 50 or 40 degrees.
– The Phaseolus Caracalla or snail vine is great for attracting bees, butterflies and or birds to your tropical garden.

Planting Directions

– Plant it from seed, or use stem or leaf cuttings, either in the ground, in a container, or in a hanging basket.
– Planted in the ground or in a container you can allow it to get huge.
– In a hanging basket it may have to be trimmed occasionally, but can grow to a length of 12′ to 15′ if allowed to.
– The snail vine prefers a mildly acidic soil, and should be planted in full sun.
– If planted from seed, expect sprouts to appear in 10 to 20 days.
– Plant near a wall or trellis, where the vines will have support, and space the plants one to two feet apart.
– This plant is hardy in USDA zone 9 through 11.
– It is not frost tolerant, but in these zones will reemerge the following spring after dying back at first frost.
– Medium amounts of water, wait until soil dries out a bit before watering again.

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