The cascading blue-green flowers of the jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) make this tropical plant a lovely addition to your indoor garden — if you have room. You can propagate a jade vine with cuttings or start seeds from hand-pollinated flowers. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, the vines require water, fertilizer, warmth and plenty of light to thrive.
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About the Jade Vine
The jade vine is one of approximately 20 Strongylodon species native to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. With up to 40-inch-long flower clusters, the jade vine vigorously clambers up trees and over buildings in its native Philippines. The 3-inch-long claw-shaped flowers grow in long clusters of 75 or more flowers.
The vines grow 30 to 50 feet long in their native habitat. While unlikely to grow to those heights in your indoor garden, the jade vine is a large plant and needs plenty of room to grow. Though it doesn't like temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it is grown in outdoor gardens in tropical Hawaii and south Florida.
Propagate a Jade Vine With Cuttings
Take 6- to 12-inch stem cuttings from new growth in late spring when the weather is warm. Be sure to sterilize your cutting tools by dipping the blades in rubbing alcohol or Lysol to prevent the spread of diseases between plants. Strip the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the cutting and then swirl the cut end in rooting hormone powder.
Insert the cutting into moist seed-starting mix. Press the mix around the base of the cutting, add two or three stakes that extend above the top leaves and then put the entire cutting and paper or peat pot in a plastic bag. Put the cutting in a warm location where it receives bright light. When new growth appears, remove the bag but continue to mist regularly to keep the humidity high.
Hand-Pollinate Jade Vine Flowers
While bats pollinate the jade vine in the wild, you can swirl a paintbrush in each flower to move the pollen to the next blossom. Depending on the height of the trellis and plant, you may need a step stool or ladder. The flowers fade, and 4- to 6-inch-long beanlike pods develop. The pods are heavy; plan to support them with netting so they don't fall off the plant.
When the seeds are ripe, strip them from the pods and plant them in moist seed-starting mix. Use biodegradable pots so you don't disturb the roots when moving them into larger containers. Cover with plastic wrap to keep the humidity high. A seed heat mat helps keep the mix warm while the seeds germinate.
Care of Jade Vines
Transplant the cuttings or seedlings into large containers filled with an organically rich potting mix. Unlike other houseplants, plant the jade vine in the largest container possible. The vines are large and unwieldy; it's better to plant in a large pot now and avoid transplanting later. Be patient — flowers begin appearing after the new vines grow 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter in two to three years.
A jade vine needs a large container and tall, sturdy trellis to climb. Alternatively, allow the vines to tumble over the edge of a second-story landing but make sure the container is firmly attached to the floor or wall.
Water when the potting mix is dry to the touch. Fertilize biweekly with a balanced or blooming liquid fertilizer diluted to one-half to one-quarter strength. Place the container where the vine receives full sun and temperatures stay above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim or prune as needed after the flowers fade.
Ruth de Jauregui is the author of 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden. She writes numerous home and garden articles for a variety of online publications. She got her start as a book and cover designer in San Francisco for William (Bill) Yenne at American Graphic Systems. In addition to designing books, she wrote her first book, Ghost Towns. With several nonfiction books under her belt, de Jauregui recently published her first novel, Bitter.