Technique for More Flowers from the Sandpaper Vine - Deadheading

There is a less-known technique for encouraging a wave of flowering for plants. If it is well-known, then I suppose it isn't practiced widely. That technique is called Deadheading. I wrote an article on Deadheading for More Flowers many years ago.

Over the years, I've done deadheading on the Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit), the Rose Cactus (Pereskia bleo), Maiden's Jealousy Vine (Tristellateia australasiae), and the Garlic Vine (Mansoa alliacea), among others. All of these yielded postive results.

This time, I'm writing on my experience with deadheading on the Sandpaper Vine (Petrea volubilis) also known as Purple Wreath or Queen's Wreath. By its nature (vigorous growth and sandpapery leaves), there are some specific considerations, and those too will be discussed.

Wouldn't it be a gorgeous sight to have this display that greets you as you enter your home? And to have this sight a few times in the year at that!

Sandpaper Vine with Spent Blooms

When the Sandpaper Vine loses its blooms, what remains are the thorn-like racemes. The first to drop are the flowers themselves or the dark-purple corollas. Then next are the light-violet calyces that spin when they drop, much like helicopter propellers.

The raceme stalks of the spent blooms look like thin fishbones sticking out of the vine foliage. See below.

Deadheading the Sandpaper Vine

The process is fairly straightforward. With a pair of pruning shears, cut at the base of the raceme. Some of the racemes would have probably lost all their flowers.

Some probably still have the calyces or calices (light violet), but these will drop anytime soon. In fact, just the light touching of your deadheading will detach many of them, especially those that have turned gray.

Just to keep it simple, you don't need to position the pruning shears exactly at a particular point on the raceme. Sometimes I even cut a couple or so of the leaves along with it.

Oftentimes, you'd see several racemes of spent blooms so close together that it isn't worth removing each of them individually. For these, you could position the pruning shears at a common point below them and cut. The photo below shows three empty racemes being cut simultaneously at a common point.

Avoid Cutting these Racemes

It's entirely up to you, but you may want to avoid cutting those racemes with corollas in them. The corolla is the true flower of the Sandpaper Vine. At least, you still get to enjoy the beauty of these.

Some spent racemes may not have the corollas visible but you will see some buds that are spherical on the calyx. These are the corollas that have not yet opened, so avoid cutting those.

Later on, you may get back to deadhead these these when all the blooms have dropped. For more information on the parts of the Sandpaper Vine, please see my article, "Purple Wreath Vine Flowering".

Tips on Deadheading the Sandpaper Vine

When working on a vine that's supported by a trellis or arbor, you'll likely be needing a ladder. Use a ladder that has a wide base and is sturdy enough. It's also likely that you'll be looking overhead so be sure the ladder is stable and secure.

To be efficient, work in an orderly manner. Start from one end of the vine. Cover as much foliage as you can while you are on the ladder. Depending on the size of the trellis, you may need to move the ladder a few times.

Climbing up and down a ladder several times is not fun and can be a pain on the knees. So while you're up a ladder, work efficiently and check as much foliage as possible for the spent blooms to deadhead.

For the tops of the vine, you will need an even higher ladder. In the photo below, I'm using an 8-foot tall aluminum ladder. Again, try to be efficient as much as possible and cover as much area as you can.

This is an opportune time to prune the vine as well. Cut wayward branches or branches that stick out. Branches like these make the canopy too thick. When the vine becomes top heavy, little sunshine reaches at the lower branches and flowering there is retarded.

When pruning thicker branches, it is better to use a pruning saw. Thicker branches would probably be about 3/16" or so in diameter. Whatever foliage is cut or pruned, it is best to drop or throw everything on the ground. Clean up is easier and safer later on.

Apparel When Deadheading the Sandpaper Vine

The Sandpaper Vine is rather notorious for the rough surface on the leaves, hence the name, Sandpaper Vine. Consider protection apparel when working close to the vine's branches and leaves.

When working under the trellis for deadheading the inner branches, your arms will most likely be rubbing with the leaves. So wear garden gloves and arm bands or sleeves.

The insides of the elbows can be very sensitive and easily irritated when scratched by the rough surface of the Sandpaper Vine leaves. Other options for protection may be a long-sleeve t-shirt or a light jacket.

Consider too, that there will be falling debris as you work under the trellis. Aside from falling cut foliage, there's also dust, soil, decomposing dead leaves that have become powdery or moldy, and even insects - dead or otherwise.

So for these, protect your face especially your eyes, mouth and nose especially if you're asthmatic. Wear a hat, goggles or eyeglasses, face mask or face shield.

Second Wave of Flowering

Weeks or even months after fully deadheading the vine, the young racemes will start to appear and soon, the Sandpaper vine will reward you with a new batch of blooms.

I've discussed the purposes of deadheading in the article, "Deadheading for More Flowers". The principle behind the second wave of flowering is really quite simple.

In a nutshell, when blooms are deadheaded, you stop the fruiting and seeding stages of the plant. When that happens, the plant's energy is diverted to just producing more flowers.

Video Tutorial

In summary and for reference, here's my video tutorial for this article.

Happy Practical Gardening!

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