It is high time we give some thought to raising the Spanish Flag. The extraordinarily beautiful vine we call Spanish Flag will make your neighbors green with envy.
Native to Brazil and known botanically as Iopmoea lobata, it is also known by the common name exotic love. You might recognize the scientific name and relatives like morning glory, moon vine and sweet potatoes. Grow it and you will be getting out the camera, because this annual vine is like none you have ever grown.
There is a revival of sorts going on in the garden world with the use of climbers. They have always been popular in cottage-style gardens, but there seems to be a new group with modern homes who are building flower borders and incorporating vertical growing.
If you can’t find nursery-grown plants, no problem; these seeds are usually easy to find and you will be in business in no time. It takes around 135 days from seeding until you have hundreds of those glorious 8-inch spikes showing red, orange, yellow and cream all at the same time. Each branch has several flowering stems, but flowers are borne only on one side of the stem. The flowers have a long vase life, lasting several days, and they delight hummingbirds. Considering that this vine produces these flowers in one season from seed makes me wonder why it is not more widespread.
We made a tower out of bamboo for the vine that was growing in our cottage garden. With arbors, trellises and towers becoming the rage, you have a lot of choices. Plant your seeds in well-drained, fertile soil after the soil has warmed. Soaking the seeds overnight helps germination, which takes place in 10 to 16 days. You can also lightly scratch the seeds with sandpaper to speed the process. Space plants at least 18 inches apart. This is a vine that needs plenty of sun and a sturdy structure to climb.
In the landscape, this vine can be considered as a quick cover for arbor, lattice or trellis. Initially, you will want to give it a little help by tying.
The vines can reach 10 to 20 feet and will be there a long time, so keep them well mulched for the season. To promote vigorous growth, feed with light monthly applications of a slow-release balanced fertilizer. Keep well-watered, particularly during the long bloom cycle, which should start in late summer and last though fall.
Spanish Flag screams to be partnered with blue spiky flowers like Blue Fortune or Black Adder agastache. Salvias like Mystic Spires Blue or Cathedral Deep blue would also be stunning. Since Spanish Flag brings in butterflies and hummingbirds, any of these combinations will just add to a pollinator haven.