By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers
Gorgeous tropical mandevillas have gone mainstream and are more widely available than ever before. How can you be sure the plant you purchased will shine as a robust, climbing vine this summer?
Did you purchase a mandevilla or dipladenia? Mandevillas and dipladenias look similar, and the names are often used interchangeably at retail.
This is because most hybrids on the market have been bred from both classes of plants. A classic mandevilla has larger leaves and larger flowers. It’s a vigorous flowering vine that should be trellised or supported. Dipladenias have a more compact growth habit, smaller leaves and smaller flowers.
Mandevillas have rougher leaves that are sometimes ridged or rippled, even hairy. Dipladenia leaves are smooth and glossy.
Most common flower colors are red, white and pink, but newer hybrids have been introduced in shades of bright yellow and soft apricot, expanding the possibilities. Suntory’s Sun Parasol brand of mandevillas spans about 20 varieties organized into four groups based on vining characteristics, growth habits, and flower size. The two groups recommended for trellises are:
Sun Parasol Giant Group – Most dramatic flowering vine, large leaves, large flowers. Requires the most sun and heat to produce flowers and is a stunner all summer! Colors include Giant Crimson, Giant Pink, Giant White, Giant Dark Pink, Giant Pure White, Red Emperor and the unique Giant Marbled Crimson (above) with variegated foliage.
Sun Parasol Pretty Group – Heavily branched and vining but smaller leaves and smaller flowers. Produces highest number of flowers. Stunning on a trellis. Colors include Pretty Pink and Pretty Crimson. A friend of mine who lives north of San Diego has Pretty Pink plants that are 8 years old and just breathtaking on her deck overlooking a hillside! (Photo above.)
The easiest way to get a head start on a gorgeous flowering vine is to purchase plants trained to a 36-48-inch teepee (three stakes in a pot). Sun Parasol Giant mandevillas are commonly sold this way at independent garden centers, as well as major plant retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s. Sometimes you can even get two colors in a teepee, like a mix of Giant Crimson and Giant White. Most of these plants are grown in Florida and shipped North.
You are most likely to see Sun Parasol Pretty varieties trained to a simple hoop in a 5-inch pot or larger. These varieties are more cold tolerant than the Giants and preferred by northern producers.
One product that’s an exception to the rule is Suntory’s Sundenia Crimson Dipladenia (below). This variety is similar to Sun Parasol Original Crimson, but the blooms are larger and it vines vigorously, finishing sooner than the Sun Parasol Giants with less heat requirement. The other Sundenia colors – Coral, White and Red – are compact and bushy.
The takeaway is to pay attention to the specific variety you purchase and note how it performs for you. If you find a variety that puts on a great summer show, seek it out again for next year. Not all mandevillas and dipladenias are the same. We’ve organized our varieties into groups to help, but even we have exceptions, like with Sundenia. Also, plant in full sun and don’t overwater. Mandevillas and dipladenias prefer dryer conditions.