Thursday, April 3, 2014

Evergreen Florida Living Wall Vine, Trachelospermum jasminoides

Here is an nice example of how vines can be used in tropical climates to create expansive living walls.

Florida living wall vine, confederate jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides

Growing in sunny Orlando, Florida, the confederate jasmine vine, Trachelospermum jasminoides looks to be about 50 feet tall (15 meters).  The vine has grown very woody and thick over the years at the base but still is relatively full and green from just above the vase up to the top most portion.

Florida living wall vine, confederate jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides
Confederate jasmine is a reliable landscape vine though it is not a native plant to the Florida area, however the University of Florida classifies the plant as a Florida Friendly landscape plant.  Importantly, unless the plant is installed in properly amended growing media, it may struggle.  Many times I have seen confederate jasmine installed in non-amended urban soils with concrete debris and high pH soils and in these instances it has struggled to establish itself, sometimes looking ragged in leaf appearance.

But once the plant begins to grow, it provides significant, evergreen foliage cover and fills the air with perfume-like scents when the flowers bloom during springtime.  This specimen was growing up and across a very heavy-duty appearing metal pipe and channel trellis.  A smaller, less sturdy system may have a hard time holding the weight of this mature vine.

I did take note of the building owner removing a grouping of old established confederate jasmine vines from another section of the building.  It is possible that because of the educational efforts of local, state and regional native plant groups that the vines may be replaced with native evergreen flowering varieties such as coral honey suckle, Carolina jessamine of others.  I personally prefer using native vine species for Florida living walls, both decisions and evergreen depending upon the application and whether solar gain issues come into play.

Living walls seem to do much better here in Florida if they are vine based, rather than vertically planted ornamentals.  The 5 H's of hurricanes, heat, humidity, hard frosts and high winds act brutally upon vertically planted ornamentals here.  Vines, on the other hand seem to adapt nicely to creating Urban Core Vertical Green if, as mentioned, the soil is amended appropriately.

For an interesting look at a very expensive living wall trellis system with struggling plants, read our series of posts here, pointing to the importance of properly amending urban soils before planting living wall vines.

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