Solandra maxima

Solandra maxima

I don't see anyone growing Solandra maxima--I don't grow it myself, though I might if I had ever seen one for sale, which I haven't.  It is far out of fashion, but perhaps it should not be.  Plants go in and  out of fashion just as do outdoor pizza ovens, koi ponds, trash compactors, and  blue fiberglass pool slides.  Once upon a time a lot of gardeners were growing Solandra maxima, I imagine, just as once upon a time nearly everyone in Southern California had a Hollywood Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Torulosa') or two in their yard,  which is how they  ended up named  for Hollywood, a moderate, well-behaved evergreen tree next to the kidney-shaped pool with the sun-bleached blue fiberglass pool slide.  Hollywood Juniper are growing rare here, and the kidney-shaped pool is vanishing too.

Solandra maxima pruned as a shrub
Solandra maxima

Solandra maxima?  The only place I've ever seen  them is at the local Trader Joe's strip mall, where they are grown as shrubs against pillars aside the parking spaces.   And they grow well and thrive, stuffed  between concrete and  stucco on one side, asphalt and car fumes on the other.  This is a tough subtropical vine, but the stems get thick and strong, and our examples have been pruned into shrubs as a stairway of rigid vertical stems.  Cut back, they bloom, and  rebloom.  The flowers are as big as your open hand and account for the common name, "Cup Of Gold Vine".

Solandra maxima

I expect to see the same utterly mundane commercial plantings everywhere, namely Rhaphiolepis indica and generic yellow day lilys.  Indeed, this strip mall has them as well.  The Rhaphiolepis indica are there in their drab ubiquity, while the day lilys, thoroughly trampled by foot traffic, are in deep decline.  The thriving Solandra maxima are a rare and an uncommon delight.  People were giving me odd  looks as I snapped pictures.   What's so interesting about a bush?

Solandra maxima

Comments

  1. They grow them in the fairly new Chrystal Cove shopping center on PCH between Newport and Laguna. The birds make their nests in them and then harass the unsuspecting shoppers for getting to close to their homes! Very dramatic and - these days - unusual!

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  2. Interesting, Sheila, to know they're showing up in other commercial settings. Thanks for that info!

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  3. Fashion Island in Newport grows them, or used to, as well. It's a big vine, Hoov. It'll tear the eaves of the roof down, from I've seen. You're so right, that plants dip in and out of fashion, it's sometimes hard to keep track. Are coleus in or out?

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  4. Coleus should always be in, though I think the enthusiasm for them is waning in the face of ever new trends. Remember the whole ornamental grass thing?

    And now the "vertical garden" that is a million times more difficult than it looks. Okay maybe only ten times more difficult.

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  5. I may try to grow it this way, hoovb. It's just so darn perfect in color and leaf form for the spot I have in mind.

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    1. It's been growing now at that location for several years, and looks and behaves as good as ever. I'm impressed with its performance. Let me know how it does for you!

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  6. I've had a Solandra for a year now and am training it to a standard. I winter it over in a greenhouse and it loved it there. I'm wondering how long is its bloom season? If it is deadheaded does it continue to bloom all summer?

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    1. I can't say for sure--as the ones I see are at the local shopping center--since I don't take care of them, I don't pay strict attention to the blooming period. They just started up here a couple of weeks ago--seems like it goes on for at least 10 or 12 weeks--but I really can't remember.

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    2. Okay this post was the end of July--so at least 3 months.

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    3. Three months? That's terrific, I'm going to have to save this one. It's quite fun to have a blooming Solandra in New Hampshire

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