Vigna caracalla (Snail vine)

(Question)

Dear Master Gardener
I would like to purchase Vigna caracalla (Snail vine) for my brother who lives just outside of Sudbury Ontario. Do I purchase the plant or do I need to purchase the seeds? I would greatly appreciate your help and assistance.
Thanking you in advance for your help.

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry. This plant would certainly be a stunning feature attraction to anyone’s garden. Corkscrew flower or snail vine (Vigna caracalla) is native to Central and south America and thrives in full sun with high humidity. It possesses intriguing snail-like blooms that start out white and unfurl to purple-pink giving off a faint hyacinth like fragrance.

This vine is hardy in zones 9-11, and is considered a tender perennial in Toronto’s  zone 6 and certainly in Sudbury’s zone 3b environment. Due to our cooler climate it is  best to grow this fascinating vine  in a container that can be moved indoors in the winter or grown outdoors as an annual.

Luckily, growing Vigna from seed is relatively easy. Soaking the seeds in warm water for 1-2 hours will aid in germination. Once the seeds have been sown ( follow directions on seed packet), seeds should be kept at an indoor temperature of 21-25C, no cooler. You will begin to see signs of germination between 14-30 days. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle they can be transplanted to a slightly larger pot. Keep the seedlings indoors until the last frost date has past for your area.

Many plants, particularly those from tropical regions, can be propagated from leaf cuttings and this vine is no exception. Fill a small pot with sterilized potting mix and make a small hole in the middle. Remove a leaf from the vine, trim the petiole back to about 25-50mm long and dip the base in rooting hormone. Place the petiole in the hole and firm the leaf into place so that it will remain standing up.

When the pot is complete, cover it with a tent of clear plastic film to maintain humidity and store it in a bright warm place out of direct sunlight. Check the cutting weekly for resistance when pulled. Transplant once roots have formed.

This  website has information on vendors that carry the seed .

Thank you for sharing this unique plant with us. I will certainly be adding this vine to my outdoor containers next summer.