• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Coral Vine Brings Decorative Flavor to Fences

October 22, 2004

IF you’ve been looking for anornamental to cover a cyclone fence,to provide more privacy and at thesame time, beautify the home, here’swhat you are looking for – coralvine.Commonly know as bellísima inSpanish, there couldn’t be a betterdescription of this gorgeous plant. Adrab, black-and-white photo certainlydoesn’t do this beauty justice!Throughout the year, coral vineproduces prolific blooms of pastelpink and white flowers, while itsevergreen, heart-shaped leaves forma dense veil of foliage.For fences, walls or arbors, coral vine has long been thechoice of many tropical gardeners. You will frequently seeit adorning Tico homes in most parts of the country, exceptin coastal areas, where it is not tolerant to salty breezes.Coral vine is actually a native to the tropical Americas,but has been distributed around the globe as a world-classornamental.You can often find it in leading nurseries, but many folkspropagate this plant from seeds or volunteer seedlings thatgrow under old vines.UNFORTUNATELY, you can’t propagate this plantfrom stem cuttings. If you spot one in your neighborhood,usually all it takes is a little kindness and diplomacy to askfor a young plant or some seeds. Ticos are usually more thanwelcome to share their plants with the neighbors. Perhapsyou can even share something with your neighbor from yourown garden, much like the Ticos have the custom of doinghere.Seeds or young plants should be planted with care in potsor plastic nursery bags and kept well watered until they arewell established. Later, when the plants are strong andhealthy, you can transplant them out along your fence or preferredsite.Coral vines do best in sunny locations in a wide range ofsoil; however, additions of organic fertilizers will boost theirgrowth and blooming. You can also use foliar sprays toenhance their growth.At first, you may need to help the plant along by weavingits new climbing tendrils on the fence or trellis, but afterthat, all you have to do is just watch it take off!CORAL vines are hardy plants, which require littleattention, however, caterpillars may attack the leaves. Thiscan be controlled with a biological insecticide known as B.T.(Bacillus Thurgensinsensis), which is sold in most CostaRican agricultural supply centers as Javelin or Di-pel. It’sactually a bacterium, which is harmless to us, but createsfatal stomach flu in caterpillars.If you can’t find bellísima in your barrio, send a self-addressedstamped envelope to: The New Dawn Center, A.P.372-8000, San Isidro del General, Costa Rica, and we’ll sendyou a gift pack of seeds. Until next time – Sea bellísima!For more info on tropical gardening, be sure to see ourWeb site at: www.thenewdawncenter.org or contact us at:thenewdawncenter@yahoo.com.

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