First Flowering: Freycinetia scandens

Freycinetia scandens is an evergreen scrambling vine which I’ve seen growing in coastal rainforest from far northern Queensland south to Fraser Island. They need a damp, sheltered, semi-shaded position.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My plant, grown from a cutting, is now six years old. It first flowered in March and would probably have flowered before now, had I not tip pruned it to keep it bushy. Freycinetia are dioecious and this specimen is male.

I first saw the potential for using Freycinetia as a prestige, informal groundcover when I managed Sydney Botanic Gardens. Just inside the Palace Gardens gate – in the romantically named Bed 69 – is a well established, unlabelled old Freycinetia which has spread by means of its wandering stems and aerial roots.

Freycinetia are easy to layer. Cuttings are slightly less reliable, even when taken during its active period of growth in the warm seasons.  Mine is happily growing in certified organic potting mix and during the warm seasons I give it a small amount of poultry manure and an occasional foliar feed with seaweed. Since they don’t root very deeply, they succeed in a shallow bowl.

Grasshoppers can badly damage plants and attack seems to be worst in autumn; March especially.

As far as I’m aware, this species is not available commercially.

Jerry Coleby-Williams
24th March 2010