A tropical vacation, somewhere lush and warm, the sun, the warm wair, the flowers. That's the dream! But unfortunately it's not always reality, but… there is a plant that can bring some tropical vibes into the garden.
Mandevilla, or rocket plant, is a stunning luscious tropical vine that features lovely trumpet shaped flowers and lush glossy foliage. Place this plant in a pot on the deck, or have it grow wild up a trellis, this plant will make any outdoor space feel like a tropical paradise.
Mandevilla Plant Details
Mandevillas are a creeping/climbing vine that is native to Brazil. It can grow anywhere from 3-10’ in height with up to a 4’ spread and is covered in gorgeous rocket shaped flowers in shades of red, pink, white, and yellow.
Also known as Rocktrumpet, Rocket flower, or Brazilian jasmine, mandevilla is known for its vining growth habit and beautiful tropical flowers. This is a great ornamental plant to add to the garden either in a pot, or against a trellis, obelisk, or other structure that it can climb.
While it is technically a perennial, it is extremely frost tender (hardy in zones 9-11), but the good news is that it is an extremely fast growing variety and it can be enjoyed as an annual for the rest of the country.
It can also be overwintered indoors and brought back out in the summer. Rocktrumpet flowers attract a number of beneficial pollinators to the garden.
The trumpet shaped flowers of mandevillas are great for attracting hummingbirds. Hummingbirds prefer deep, vase shaped flowers to stick their beak into which rocktrumpet are perfect.
There should be a variety of colors of mandevillas at the garden center, reds, pinks, yellows and white. Here are a few of the beautiful varieties to consider.
This is the classic variety of mandevilla with dark green glossy leaves, and an upright vining habit. It is a fast grower, making it an ideal annual vine. Consider these cultivars of mandevilla sanderi
- Sun Parasol Mandevilla - This series of mandevilla come in a wide range of colors, they are a nice compact and bushy variety which are great for containers and small spaces.
Consider Sun Parasol ‘Apricot’, which is a soft apricot color flower, Sun Parasol ‘Giant Pink’, which has large soft pink flowers, or Sun Parasol crimson which has vivid red flower.
- Bombshell White Mandevilla - The Bombshell series comes in a variety of colors, reds and pinks etc. But the white one is stunning. Large white flowers cover the glossy green vine.
This would look great in a night garden where the white flowers would glow in the moonlight, or growing on an arbor to be used in a wedding.
- Rio Mandevilla - The Rio series of mandevilla comes in various shades of pink and red, but what makes this series different is that it’s a compact variety that will only reach heights of 2’. Great for small spaces, and containers.
Mandevilla Splendens, also known as the shining mandevilla, is an evergreen vine. It can reach heights of 10-15’. It has glossy green oval foliage and with the signature trumpet shaped flowers of the mandevilla. It is very similar to sanderi in size and shape.
Mandavilla Laxa, or Chilean jasmine is a pure white variety of mandevilla. This variety is a woody vine that can grow 15’ high. It is known as a jasmine plant because of its beautiful fragrance.
This is a lovely variety, it would be great in a night garden with the bright white trumpet flowers catching in the moonlight.
Dipladenia Boliviensis is the actual scientific name of this variety even though it is often considered a mandevilla. This variety will grow up to 10’ tall. It has dark glossy green foliage, and lovely white flowers with yellow eyes.
The added yellow in the center of the flower gives it just a little extra pop. Consider planting it with yellow flowers, such as bright yellow african marigolds, to really show off mandevilla boliviensis flowers’ yellow center.
How to Grow Madevillas
Mandevilla vine is always abundant in the summer months at garden centers when all bedding out plants/annuals are in stock. Pick up an already established plant here and either transplant it into the garden, or place it in a pot.
This is the easiest way to planting mandevilla and since all the hard work of propagating and growing has already been done by the greenhouse, it will not take much to get it established and growing.
Growing Rocket Flower by Cutting
Another way to start a mandevilla vine is to obtain some cuttings.
- Find a mandevilla to snip and cut about a 3 inch slip of the plant. The cutting should be new, fresh growth for best results.
- Take the cutting and strip all but the top few leaves from the stem.
- Dip the cutting in rooting hormone (not completely necessary, but will make it root faster) and then place into nice evenly moist potting soil.
- Place a clear dome lid, or bag, over the cutting and place in a bright, but not direct sun, area and keep it moist (not soggy).
In about three weeks or so, the cutting should be rooted (you’ll be able to tell, if the cutting is limp and dead it didn’t take, if the leaves are perked up and starting to produce new growth… success).
Once the cutting is established and growing, transplant into a larger pot or the garden. This method will be slower than buying an established plant to get flowers and growth, so start early, and consider over wintering the vine to have an established plant ready for the next season.
Growing Brazilian Jasmine by Seed
Mandevilla can also be grown by seed. This is the slowest method and will take the longest to get an established flowering vine. However, it is also the cheapest.
It actually isn’t all too common for an established mandevilla to just produce seed, the pollination process is more difficult and people report not seeing seeds in years of growing their vines.
However if seeds do appear, they will be in large pea-like pods that can be harvested and dried and then the pod should open and release seed.
The easier way will be to just purchase seeds from a reputable seed company (don’t fall for seed packages that feature flowers with colors that look too good to be true, they are fake).
- Get a seed tray (yogurt or berry containers with holes in the bottom work good for this) and place the seeds on the seed starting mix. Then only lightly cover them with soil, these seeds require light to germinate.
- Keep them in a warm area (slightly above room temperature if possible) and in bright, but indirect sunlight. These seeds could take up to a month to germinate.
- Check on them regularly to make sure they don’t dry out (I set an alarm on my phone daily just to give them a quick look, it doesn't take long for them to go from good, to dry and dead). Once the seedlings sprout, move them into the sun to grow.
Now they are ready to be placed outside… Well not entirely. Make sure to harden off your new seedlings before planting rocktrumpet out. Seedlings that start their lives growing indoors do not know how to handle the real elements.
Hardening Off Your Mandevilla
They must go through a process known as hardening off before they will be strong plants that can handle wind, rain, and sun. This whole process takes around a week.
Start by bringing the seedlings outside into a protected area for a few hours, the next day a bit longer, then eventually add a bit of sun, and keep upping the amount of sun and time outdoors until they are outside all day and night.
Prune seedling and plants to promote bushy and full growth, every clip will make it grow outward as well as upward making for a bigger, bushier mandevilla. (To get the best pruning shears, see our buying guide and product reviews.)
The best time of year to placing or planting mandevilla vine outside is when the danger of frost has passed, and the night temperatures are even at 50°F (10°C).
Bring in the rocket flower once before the first frost, they don’t really like temperatures below 50°F, so once the weather starts dropping, bring it in for the winter, or it will die off with the rest of the summer annuals.
How to Overwinter a Mandevilla Vine
To overwinter a mandevilla vine, cut it back to 2-3’ or whatever is a manageable size, dig it up and repot it, or just bring in the pot it is already planted in.
Now place it in a space that gets bright indirect sunlight, and water weekly (along the same routine as your other houseplants). The vine won’t be flowering in the winter.
Rocket flowers like full sun, or at least 6 hours of direct sunlight in the garden. They will benefit from a little afternoon shade when it is very hot. If it is planted in a very hot spot, give it extra water.
Rocktrumpet do not like shady conditions and will appear leggy and will not flower if they are not getting enough sun.
What Soil to Use
Mandevillas prefer to grow in nice loose sandy soil with lots of organic matter mixed in. To do a quick check for clay soil, squeeze a ball of soil and if the soil stays in the shape of that ball, it is clay and heavy.
The soil should not be able to retain its shape and just crumble away to nothing after squeezing it. Amend heavy clay soil with peat, or coconut coir (consider coconut coir as it is better for the environment than peat moss).
Now to add the organic matter, choose compost, manure, worm casting, to amend the soil with rich nutrients.
For container grown mandevilla vine, a good potting soil will suffice, something light and fluffy that will retain moisture, but also drain away excess so it doesn’t stay soggy. Mix it with some worm casting for an extra boost.
Caring for Mandevilla
Rocket flowers come from tropical regions in Brazil, so it should come as no surprise that they like to be kept in moist soil. Do not let this vine dry out.
But on the flipside of that, they also do not like being kept in damp and soggy conditions. This will lead to yellowing leaves, and eventually root rot.
If the mandevilla vine is in a container it will most likely require daily watering, perhaps even more depending on how big the container is and how hot and sunny the area the pot is in.
Check it frequently and make sure it doesn’t dry out (you’ll get to know how often it needs watered after awhile). Drooping, or sad looking leaves is a sure sign it needs a drink, give the brazilian jasmine a good soak and it should perk up again.
What Fertilizer to Use
Mandevilla vines are heavy feeders, they need lots of energy to grow as fast and large as they do in such a short amount of time, plus all the energy needed to produce those beautiful trumpet flowers.
Make sure to water before applying fertilizer so as to not burn the plant. Don’t fertilize in the winter season, whether it is indoors or out, let the vine rest.
Designing with Rocktrumpets
Oh now on to the fun part, using brazilian jasmine vines as garden decor. These lovely and fast growing vines are perfect for creating a wonderful tropical vibe in the garden.
Use them in pots with a trellis attached and they work as great natural separations between areas in the garden (like little outdoor room dividers), or have it climbing against a wall or house and create that beautiful tropical feel.
In a mixed container they make a great “thriller” plant that could grow upwards against a trellis and then other plants can be planted in the front such as coral bells, petunias, or geraniums, or a mixture. Play with color combinations and textures.
These vines are also great in the garden, they are fast growing, and annual (mostly) so they can grow huge in a season then die, without having a vine that will take over everywhere.
They will easily climb a trellis, arbors, chain link fence, a garden obelisk, etc. and their large flowers pack enough punch that they can be seen and enjoyed from afar. They are really good at covering an unattractive view like an electric box or waste bins.
When choosing a pot, consider a larger pot as these vines can grow quite large so there will need to be space for the roots, and they also don’t like to dry out- a smaller pot will need to be watered more frequently than a large one.
If the brazilian jasmine will be overwintered, consider a pot that can be brought inside and outside easily. It can be transplanted to bring in, but it is easier to cut it down and bring it in all at once.
Common Rocktrumpet Pests
The good news is that rocktrumpets that are happily growing in their ideal conditions (check out the sun, water, soil requirements), will remain relatively pest free.
So make sure it is getting 6+ hours of sunlight, is in light and fluffy free draining soil with lots of organic matter, and is kept evenly moist but not soggy. Yellow leaves, no flowering, or stringy/leggy growth is most often attributed to one of these factors.
The pests that can affect a mandevilla include the usual suspects of baddies, aphids, spider mites, scale, and mealybugs. Check the stems and in the leaves for signs of these critters.
- Aphids - these little bugs hang out along the stems and in the leaf folds of plants, they are small and greenish-black in color, they will be clumped together in groups
(Learn how to identify and control aphids here.)
- Spider mites - Spider mites will leave thin webbing over the leaves and will make the leaves appear mottled. Upon closer inspection of the webbing there will be tiny tiny little spider like critters zooming around this network of web (the ick factor is real on these guys)
- Scale - this is often the hardest to identify as they tend to blend in to the plant, they will just appear as little growths on the leaves and stems, it takes a keen eye to spot it.
- Mealy bugs - these pests can be noticed on the undersides of leaves and along the stem of the mandevilla. They are little fluffy critters, like bits of cotton stuck to the plant.
(See our comprehensive guide on Mealybugs here.)
To rid the mandevilla of an infestation, apply an insecticidal soap spray weekly, or as directed. Do not apply this while the vine is in direct sun, wait until it is out of the sun, early morning or evening is ideal.
Another option is hand picking the pests off, or blasting them off with the hose. This is a good option for scale especially since the insecticidal soap doesn’t always work on them.
If it comes down to it and it’s a losing battle, consider disposing of the mandevilla and starting again, especially if it is only an annual.
Can mandevilla take the sun?
Yes, they like 6+ hours of full sun to get the most blooms, some protection from the very strong and hot afternoon sun is better. Consider watering more often if it is getting the hot afternoon sun.
Why are the leaves on my mandevilla turning yellow and falling off?
This is most likely a watering issue. Probably too much. Mandevilla vine likes to be evenly moist but not soggy. This is also tied into its soil, if it is in heavy clay soil that is unable to drain the leaves, especially the lower leaves, will turn yellow and fall off.
How do I keep my mandevilla blooming?
Full sun, they won’t bloom in shady conditions, and healthy soil either amended with organic matter, or fertilizer to feed the flowers.
Does mandevilla attract hummingbirds?
Yes! The deep trumpet shaped flowers are exactly what hummingbirds like.
Do you deadhead mandevillas?
No, this makes them a great low maintenance flower since they don’t require deadheading, they will keep blooming all summer long as long as they are growing in their ideal conditions.
How do you make a mandevilla more bushy?
Pruning, every cut you make will create branching growth, a good hard cut back might be necessary if the mandevilla has become too spindly (this is also a sign it needs more sun).
Enjoy Growing Various Colors of Mandevilla in Your Garden
Mandevilla, or rocket plant, can not be beat for a summer flowering vine, with glossy leaves and bright flowers, it’s like a tropical vacation in your own backyard.
Get it in various colors, put it in containers, or in the ground. The versatility and beauty of mandevilla makes it a summertime must have.