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!

Unknown 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!

Unknown 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.

chinko said...

intend to grow this beautiful creeper. hope to get a cutting soon. learnt alot from your article. TQVM.

Blackdove said...

Your welcome, Chinko, and good luck!

Sushil said...

After reading such nice and well informed article on Rangoon creeper, i follow the guidelines given in the article and my Rangoon creeper growing so fast... Thanks for such step wise information and learn a lot from this

frannie tales said...

Hi enjoyed reading your article and learned a lot. I've just gotten my rangoon creeper and planted it in a fabric pot for now with a trellis inside the pot. When I got this from the seller I noticed that it has a lot of dead looking branches at the bottom. Should I prune this? I'd like to send you a photo of what we did and maybe you can comment on how we can improve it. This is my 1st experience with a Vining plant. :)

kiddiegoat said...

Hi! I’m growing the creeper on my 4 feet fence, horizontally. How do I make it bushy all over and not just the top? Do I train it up and down the the fence?

Blackdove said...

That's great, Gardening in Guyana. You'll enjoy the fragrant pretty flowers, I'm sure!

Blackdove said...

Good to know that, Sushil. Congrats on your success!

Blackdove said...

Hello Frannie Tales. Yes, do remove them especially if they're all dried up. My own preference for this vine is just to retain one single trunk (or maybe 2), and let it branch out atop a trellis. Good luck!

Blackdove said...

Hi Kiddiegoat. Unfortunately, it's a vine with long trailing branches. Am not sure if you can train it to become a bush or hedge.

Anonymous said...

Such an informative set of articles on the rangoon creeper! I am hoping to grow this, and will surely use your article to do so! Thanks so much! I have a pergola which I original had bougainvillea climb on, then passiflora. But I think I want this now! I was thinking of using it to cover my cyclone wire fence as well!

Faith L said...

Thanks so much for this very informative series on the rangoon creeper. I have just started one, following your instructions about the insulated solid wire. Right now there is one long shoot that seems to be doing better than the first shoot which the plant came with, along with shorter side shoots. So I am using the longest branch as the main shoot to climb my wire, then will wait and see which one will follow in length to make 2 for the trunk (maybe not the original most mature shoot, as it seems to have stopped lengthening.) Shall I just leave almost all shoots growing for now, until the top shoots reach the top of my pergola? Then start cutting them away? Or do I prune this early on? And shall I cut away the first main shoot already, since it has stopped lengthening?

Blackdove said...

Hi Faith. If you've selected your main branch, it's much easier to cut away the sprouting ones early on. Yes, if you may prune the main one on top of the pergola if you want - so that it'll branch out.