Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica) Growing in an Arch or Arbor - Part 3

In part 2 of this article, I discussed the initial growth stages of the Rangoon Creeper vine, including its first flowering. Realizing the potential for this vine to become robust and aggressive, I thought pruning to create a more compact look for the trunk of the vine to make it look tidier and looking less overpowering than the rest of the nearby plants.

In this part, I'll discuss other ways to thin out the trunk portion of the Rangoon Creeper so it becomes less invasive. As mentioned repeatedly, the Rangoon Creeper, given the right amount of sunlight and watering, will grow quickly. The vine on your arch, arbor or pergola will look like a tangled mess without the proper control of the branches.

Training the Side Branches of the Rangoon Creeper

The Rangoon Creeper or Chinese Honeysuckle or Drunken Sailor (Combretum indicum)is a ligneous vine. It has woody fibers that make thin mature branches pliable. You can take advantage of this characteristic to further train some of the side branches.

If you are hesitant and might regret cutting off side branches of the Rangoon Creeper, you could also bend these branches upwards. This way they are trained to grow upwards rather than droop in their natural state.

Here's the Rangoon Creeper vine six months since it was planted. Once they have become established in a climbing support such as the one below, Rangoon Creepers would grow very quickly, especially if they are watered often and receive plenty of sunshine. During that stage, it isn't unusual for these vines to flower within six months. And what a spectacular display they make!

Some of the lower side branches have been pruned off while the upper side branches have been retained and bent upwards (yellow circle in the above photo).

After bending these side branches upwards, I used a few twist ties or thin insulated wires to secure them to the main trunk. The closeup photo below shows the points where the side branches were bent.

The result is a much neater and more compact appearance.

One year later, the trunk has matured more and grown considerably thicker. The two main branches that comprise the trunk are more than an inch thick already, and yet the overall appearance still looks tidy.

A closeup of the part of the trunk that twined on the insulated wire is shown below. It is just one portion of the wire that is still visible.

The rest of the wire has been covered by the thickness of the branches and is now virtually unrecoverable. You could say that the white insulated wire will eventually be "devoured" by these thick braided vine branches.

And so it is important to use an insulated solid-strand wire. Once fully covered, the vine's plant juices in the trunk keeps the wire always moist. And if there's air and moisture, then rusting or corrosion would inevitably set in an open or bare wire. The plastic or rubber of the insulated wire that was used prevents that from happening.

Removing Adventitious Buds of the Rangoon Creeper

Another technique to keep side branches from growing in the trunk is to remove adventitious buds. These buds would become shoots and grow into branches.

Adventitious buds are fairly easy to spot. They grow out from the vine's trunk. Some would also call them water sprouts. These could grow very rapidly if left unattended. The photo below shows the thick trunk still developing new shoots out of adventitious buds.

Fortunately, if you catch these adventitious buds early on, they're quite easy to remove because of their soft parts. Remove these buds by simply scratching them off with your fingernails or pinching them off.

If they do get longer and thicker, it's also easy to break them off from the trunk if they're still soft. But if the stems have become a bit woody, cut them with a pair of pruning shears.

Removing these buds contribute to the overall neat appearance of the Rangoon Creeper's trunk.

From the outside, the vine's foliage (leaves and flowers) appear mostly on top of the garden gate arch, giving the illusion of a canopy with a crown of flowers. From the inside, the vine looks like a small tree with its thick trunk and top-heavy foliage.

By keeping the vine's trunk free from buds, new shoots and branches, you're able to channel the energy of the Rangoon Creeper to where it matters most - the top foliage on the garden gate arch or arbor. This is where you want the vine to show off its spectacular display all year round.

Go ahead, post your comment below!

Tuấn Anh Trần Trọng said...

Thanks you for this useful article, your plant look so beautiful. But I have a question. I want to grow a rangoon creeper plant in vertical, as tall as possible. The shoot of the trunk (I will call it"trunk shoot") grow very quickly, you know, it's the only shoot that lengthen the plant, not the shoot of branches. Unfortunately, it was cutted and the plant hasn't lengthen anymore, except the branches. So how can i stimulate the plant to create a or even some new trunk shoots?
I'm sorry if i have something wrong because i'm not native in English.
Thank you.

Blackdove said...

Thanx for dropping by, Tuấn. Don't worry about it. Eventually, another branch will take over as a "leader" stem and you could use that. You'd notice from my article that I actually retained two branches that constitute the "trunk". You could retain only one if you wish and then let smaller branches grow at the top. Good luck!

Tuấn Anh Trần Trọng said...

Thank you for the quick reply. So I have to wait and observe what branch will become a stem or is there any trick that I can do to make a branch become stem, or stimulate the plant to produce new shoot?
Because I plant it because of it's shade so I leave all the branches.

Blackdove said...

Yes, take the leader or bigger branch(es) and train them to become the trunk. Cutting off the tips of the branches actually encourages more branching. But that's not what you want if the intent is to have a vertical main trunk like what I have in the article. To have a trunk like what I have, you just let one or a couple of bigger branches to form the trunk and then remove/cut off the side branches - and any new buds for that matter. Just let the leader branch reach the top. Again, it's your option to have one or maybe two of these leader branch.