Plant Description

Petrea volubilis

Petrea volubilis on a pergola in my garden

This very unusual plant, sometimes called purple wreath or sandpaper vine, is a delightful woody-stemmed, twining, evergreen creeper that is sometimes mistaken for a wisteria! It has its most spectacular display in early spring, but reblooms in late spring or early summer with another significant flush; further flushes may also occur later in summer! It has pendulous trusses of simple violet flowers held within cross-shaped lilac calyces, which persist long after the flowers have fallen, prolonging the show. It has curious sandpapery, evergreen foliage (hence one of its popular common names!) and grows well on a pergola, against a pillar or across the edge of a verandah roof. A white-flowered version, 'Albiflora', exists, but I have never seen it.

It needs sun and good soil to be seen at its best, but seems to cope quite well with dry times and tolerate part or dappled shade. It can grow to 6 m or more, but it can be controlled by cutting it back after flowering has finished. Indeed, pruning will help keep it in good shape and may even induce repeat flowering! It has its origins in Mexico and South America. It needs to be protected from cold winters in its early years, but once established, it will flourish and develop quite thick stems. A cultivar called 'Purple Passion' has much larger leaves and flowers than the species; I have yet to meet this plant.


Petrea volubilis
Flowers from September to March.
Plant Family: Verbenaceae

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