- Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California
- Mexican Flame Flower Info: Tips On Caring For Mexican Flame Vines
- About Mexican Flame Flower
- Learning How to Grow a Mexican Flame Vine
- Additional Flame Vine Care
- Senecio confusus Mexican Flame Vine1
- General Information
- Use and Management
in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9b-13. It dies to the ground below 30°F and comes back from its roots in winter temperatures above 20°F.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Temperature dependent.
Sun: Full sun for the most flowers.
Water after becoming established: Once a month in winter, weekly in the hottest months of the year. Only water when the soil is dry.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline). Avoid fertilizing because that inhibits flowering and causes aggressive growth. This plant is salt intolerant, so chemical fertilizers must be avoided.
Mulch: Use organic mulch to shield the roots from winter freezes, especially in zones 8b and 9.
Planting: Can be grown in a container.
Prune: Cut back the tops of the vines to reinvigorate leaves and flowers at the bottom. This may need to be done twice a year.
Propagation: Cuttings or layering. The seed will not be viable unless derived from two plants.
Uses: Ornamental, butterfly garden. It is best grown on a trellis, fence or draped over a wall so that the stems do not touch ground.
Mexican Flame Flower Info: Tips On Caring For Mexican Flame Vines
Growing Mexican flame vines (Senecio confusus syn. Pseudogynoxus confusus, Pseudogynoxus chenopodiodes) gives the gardener a burst of bright orange color in sunny areas of the garden. Easy to grow and propagate, caring for Mexican flame vines is simple. Once you have a Mexican flame flower started in your flower beds, you can easily grow more from cuttings.
About Mexican Flame Flower
Growing Mexican flame vines have attractive, dark green foliage that can climb a trellis or other support or cascade over a wall. Leaves are as large as 4 inches in length and add a lush, tropical feel to the area in which they’re planted. When flowers appear, butterflies and hummingbirds will be regular visitors and may be enticed to remain if a water source is provided. Caring for Mexican
flame vines may include pruning, as the vine can grow to 20 feet.
Learning How to Grow a Mexican Flame Vine
Mexican flame flower is easily started in the garden from seed in spring. An herbaceous perennial or evergreen in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 and above, Mexican flame flower grows as an annual in lower zones. Rapid growth allows for development of foliage and flowers before the plant faces die back from frost.
Flame vine care includes trimming the plant back to encourage a new flush of blooms in summer. Pruning as part of flame vine care encourages blooms throughout the plant, those not pruned only flower at the top of the climbing vine.
Plant seeds into a sunny area with well drained soil. Growing Mexican flame vines are not picky about soil and will sprout in poor soil and rocky areas. A more profuse display of blooms occurs in organic soils, but soil that is too rich may cause growing Mexican flame vines to get out of hand. The same is true with fertilization, so go easy on feeding as part of flame vine care.
Additional Flame Vine Care
Once established in the landscape, caring for Mexican flame vines is low maintenance. The plant is drought tolerant, but will benefit from the occasional watering during dry periods.
Take cuttings from the Mexican flame flower to overwinter in areas where it is grown as an annual. Learning how to grow a Mexican flame vine for next year can also be done by collecting and saving seeds.
Scientific name: Senecio confusus, Pseudogynoxus confusus, Pseudogynoxus chenopodiodes
Family: Asteraceae / Compositae
Common name: Mexican Flame Vine, Orangeglow Vine
For sheer beauty, this flowering vine is hard to beat. Mexican Flame Vine is a great fast-growing everbloomer and butterfly attractor. The plant is good for beginners since it is drought resistant and hardly bothered by any pests. Minimum care is rewarded with impressive floral displays. It is a vigorous climber with thick evergreen leaves which deep green color provides a rich background for brilliant bright orange daisy-like flowers, borne in clusters. Blooms almost year round, from November through Spring when it is fully covered with gorgeous flowers, then blooms sporadically for the rest of the year.
The vine is originated from Mexico, as the common name indicates. It is a twining vine to 10 feet long with evergreen leaves that are shaped like arrowheads and serrated on the edges – a succulent type leaf similar to German Ivy. They are arranged alternately on the vine and create very dense deep green background for the “flame”. As the flowers age, they change from orange to almost red to be followed by fruiting structures that resemble smaller versions of the dandelion puffy seed heads. This is a nectaring plant for butterflies, especially gulf fritillaries, and is also very attractive to hummingbirds.
The scientific name Senecio confusus translates to “confused” referring to this vine’s rampant habit of growth. The flower is another point of “confusion”, with an unusual-looking tangle of yellow fibers that are actually the styles. Without a support, a “confusion” of stems form a sprawling shrub. It can be also used as a dense groundcover if you let it go without regular trimming or control. It’s a good idea to use Mexican Flame Vine to drape over porch rails or even mailboxes thanks to its drought resistance and very low maintanance requrements. It’s the best choice for improving the visual charm of chain link fences. The vine can be planted as well in mixed hedges to create splashes of bright color. It also looks great clambering up palm or pine tree trunks. Suitable for Xeriscape.
The most profuse blooming is from November through Spring, then the plant blooms sporadically on and off for the rest of the year, leaving only a few weeeks every once in a while for short periods of rest.
Cultivation is very easy. The plant prefers full sun for more profuse blooming, but will also thrive in light shade. Water the young plant until established, then it becomes drought tolerant. Not particular about soil. This tropical vine is killed to the ground by frost, but even in Zone 8B gardens it will recover from roots in spring.
There will be no problems with spread of the vine by seed, but it will run along the ground and root between the leaf nodes. Judicious pruning once or twice a year keeps the vine under control. It normally does not outgrow small gardens and yards.
Senecio confusus Mexican Flame Vine1
Edward F. Gilman2
This twining, evergreen sprawling vine has four-inch-long, coarsely toothed, dark green leaves and terminal clusters of orange-red, one-inch, daisy-like flowers with golden centers (Fig. 1). Although it appears throughout the year, peak periods of bloom are spring and summer. The quick growth of Mexican flame vine is ideal to add interest to palm trunks, to soften fences, or to veil a trellis. Occasional heading helps some foliage and flowers at the bottom of a fence or other structure supporting Mexican flame vine. Left unpruned, foliage and flowers accumulate at the top.
Mexican flame vine
Scientific name: Senecio confusus Pronunciation: sen-NEESH-shee-oh kun-FEW-sus Common name(s): Mexican flame vine Family: Compsitae Plant type: ground cover USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Fig. 2) Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round Origin: native to North America Uses: ground cover; cascading down a wall Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant Figure 2.
Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Height: depends upon supporting structure Spread: depends upon supporting structure Plant habit: spreading Plant density: moderate Growth rate: fast Texture: medium
Leaf arrangement: alternate Leaf type: simple Leaf margin: dentate Leaf shape: ovate Leaf venation: pinnate Leaf type and persistence: evergreen Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches Leaf color: green Fall color: no fall color change Fall characteristic: not showy
Flower color: orange-red Flower characteristic: summer flowering Figure 3.
Flower of Mexican flame vine
Fruit shape: oval Fruit length: less than .5 inch Fruit cover: dry or hard Fruit color: brown Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy
Trunk and Branches
Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable Current year stem/twig color: green Current year stem/twig thickness: medium
Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam Drought tolerance: moderate Soil salt tolerances: poor Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches
Roots: not applicable Winter interest: no special winter interest Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests
Use and Management
Easily grown in full sun or partial shade, Mexican flame vine thrives in any soil with little care. Although knocked down by frost, it will quickly recover in USDA hardiness zones 8b and 9. Growth rate is so rapid, it can be used as an annual vine, planting yearly in areas subjected to freezing winter temperatures.
The cultivar ‘Sao Paulo’ has deeper orange, almost brick red flowers.
Propagation is by seed or stem cuttings. The green, fleshy stems will root at the nodes when in contact with soil.
Pests and Diseases
Nematodes, mites, scales, and caterpillars all bother Mexican flame vine.
No diseases are of major concern.
This document is FPS545, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.