Pandorea Jasminoides: the vine Pandora would Love

pandorea jasminoides

Pandorea jasminoides, or the bower vine: you might've guessed its name comes from the Greek godess Pandora, but you might not know that this lush flowering vine is native to Australia, or how to cultivate it in your own garden. Well, read on to find out!

To cultivate Pandorea jasminoides, plant the seeds at least 6 inches apart in a location with plenty of sun. If the spot you chose doesn’t have something to support the vertical growth of the vine, add in a trellis. Water a few times a week and prune as necessary after the vine begins to flower.

Whether it’s for your porch, fence, or a tree that’s looking a little too bare, add in P. jasminoides to create a scene fit for a Greek goddess.

Pandorea Discovery & Fun Facts

Fully and scientifically known as Pandorea jasminoides, this vine is more commonly referred to as the bower vine, the bower of beauty, etc.

Even ignoring the plainly obvious “beauty” part of its colloquial name, synonyms of “bower” include “alcove” and “sanctuary.” You get the picture--even its name says “I’m awesome.” And its scientific name can be dissected for even more proof of this.

The genus Pandorea, which has several species within it along with our bower of beauty, got its name from Pandora’s box

In Greek mythology, Pandora’s box was a container that was opened to release a bunch of evil stuff like death and disease--you get the idea. Bad call to have opened it, but curiosity’s a killer.

It’s also worth noting that the name Pandora in Greek means “the one who bears all gifts.” The actual gifts that she was given weren’t exactly great, but the ones that P. jasminoides give (the seeds inside the trumpet-shaped flowers) are!

The species name jasminoides draws its meaning from both Greek and Latin. The root of the word is jasminum, which translates from Latin to mean “jasmine,” and the oides suffix translates from Greek to mean “resembling.” Put it together and you get “resembling a jasmine.”

The bower vine was actually first called Tecoma jasminoides when it was discovered by John Lindley in 1838, but in 1894, Karl Moritz Schumann reclassified it into the Pandorea genus, giving it the cooler name that it goes by today.

And that cooler name, probably along with some of the other cool characteristics that the bower vine has, earned it the Award of Garden Merit by the British Royal Horticultural Society, making this plant’s résumé slightly more impressive than mine.

Plus, the vine has become so well-established that it has evolved to become easier to propagate, have more dense flowers, and achieve a low susceptibility to pests and diseases. What else could you ask for from the bower of beauty?

physical description of pandorea jasminoides

Physical Description

As you may have already guessed, P. jasminoides is a flowering vine. It can grow to be up to 26 feet tall, but the height depends on the vertical growing support that it’s given.

P. jasminoides produces shiny green leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers that come in a few different colors based on the subspecies: white with a yellow center for the subcategory “Alba,” pink/purple flowers for “Purpurea,” and white or pale pink flowers with a dark pink/red center for “Rosea.”

Because of its unquestionably beautiful nature, P. jasminoides is often cultivated to climb on pre-existing structures.

Why leave a rusty gate or a worn-out fence to make the first impression when you can so easily transform it into the threshold from Earth to paradise?

If you don’t happen to already have a fence or patio that needs decoration or any other good structure for the vine to grow on, you could always put up a simple (but elegant) trellis in your yard.

As for how long you’ll have to wait to see the vine wrap around the structure of your choosing like a coiling snake, it won’t be long. Bower vines grow very quickly--so make sure to have something for it climb on, or else it’ll spread out and try to take over your garden, which would not have the same divine effect.

The bower vine should be planted in the springtime. With it being an evergreen, it will flower periodically throughout the year, likely showing up around the beginning or end of summer.

You’ll see results in no time. So, to emphasize, get something for the vine to grow upwards on!

Biology

Bignoniaceae family

Above the jasminoides species and the Pandorea genus, the bower vine is one of many in the Bignoniaceae family. You might have heard it as bignonia, a more common name for the family.

Members of the Bignoniaceae are found in tropical regions. The family contains a bunch of flowering plants, especially ones with tubular-shaped flowers similar to yours truly, the bower vine. Because of this, the plants in this family are usually used for decorating purposes.

Pandoreas

The bower vine’s most closely related plants are part of the genus Pandorea, as well.

One close relative, Pandorea pandorana, has a much more pronounced tubular shape than the bower vine. And if you think its scientific name is a little repetitive, you’ll be delighted to know that its popular name is the Wonga Wonga Vine. I love saying that. 

The flowers for P. pandorana hang in dense bundles, and the color depends on the subspecies. The first of four, nicknamed “Golden Showers,” has yellow flowers; the next has a cream-colored throat and dark pink petals, and is called “Ruby Belle.”

The third one is like the opposite of the one before, having a dark throat and cream-colored petals, and is named “Ruby Heart.” And, to bring the precious names to a close, the fourth and final cultivar of the P. pandorana species is a totally white flower, nicknamed “Snowbells.”

Another species in the Pandorea genus is called P. nervosa. The flowers on this vine look similar to those of P. pandorana, but don’t seem to hang in such dense clumps. This vine flourishes best in more shaded areas, and its flowers come a little later in the year.

The last of the bower vine’s siblings in Pandorea is P. baileyana. This vine, called the large-leaved Wonga vine, flowers in late spring, creating small, dense clusters of yellowish, trumpet-shaped flowers.

Pandorea jasminoides cultivars

Like P. pandorana, P. jasminoides has a few subspecies that determine the color of the flowers.

Probably the most ubiquitous cultivar, “’Rosea,” also known as “Southern Belle,” has pinkish flowers with a dark pink/red center. The cultivar “Charisma,” which looks very similar to “Rosea,” has the same dark center but with less pink-tinged, whiter edges.

The beautiful “Alba,” on the other hand, has white edges and a yellow center. And, last but not least, the cultivar “Purpurea” has, as its name implies, deep pink/purple petals with a slightly darker middle.

Different colors, all lovely.

where pandorea jasminoides are native to

Native & Common Regions

The bower vine is native to Australia. More specifically, it’s found in the area from eastern Queensland to northern South Wales.

The bower vine grows best in warm temperatures and between full sun and part shade. Australia’s tropical rainforest makes a good home for it, since it can climb up the trees to get sunlight whenever it needs to.

As for growing P. jasminoides outside of its native country, certain conditions must be met. All things considered, the vine is very hardy (what else could you expect from something that originates from the terrifying land of Australia?), but the temperature can’t get too low, especially when it’s young.

In the United States, it can grow in the USDA zone 10 and the warmer parts of zone 9. But, if kept inside a greenhouse, you might be able to grow the bower vine successfully outside of the defined regions. 

If you're into growing tropical plants in your greenhouse, you might also check out the article on how to grow orchids in a greenhouse.

With plenty of water (keep moist, but well-drained), a fair amount of sunlight, slightly acidic soil, and no temperature lower than about 40°F, P. jasminoides will be just fine.

How to Grow Pandorea jasminoides

If you’re ready for a major aesthetic upgrade with little work required, then you’re ready to start cultivating the bower of beauty. You just need a few things first.

Seed starting

When you’re getting started, the first item off the materials list to gather will be, of course, the seeds for Pandorea jasminoides. These shouldn’t be too difficult to get your hands on, and if you already know someone who has a bower vine growing, it would be easy to collect the seeds from the flowers.

Just make sure to ask before snatching their seeds.

In any case, the rest of the material depends on where you want to grow it. If you happen to live in one of the zones that has the climate conditions P. jasminoides needs, you can grow it outdoors. If not, a greenhouse would be a good idea.

Picking a location

Picking the exact location depends, too, on whether you’re providing a trellis for climbing support or if you intend to have the vine wrap around some other structure, like a fence, arbor, porch, or anything else.

So, if you don’t have something already, buy/construct the trellis that you want to use. Have it ready when you plant the seeds.

Keep in mind a few of the other necessities for the bower vine before planting. Make sure that it’ll get plenty of sunlight in the place you choose, and that the soil is well-draining. Preferably, the soil should be slightly acidic, but the bower vine will be fine in neutral or even mildly alkaline conditions.

Though it’s an evergreen, you’ll want to wait until spring before starting to cultivate P. jasminoides. Because of the bower vine’s relatively weak tolerance for low temperatures, wait out the winter frosts.

Once winter is gone, you’re sure about the location you picked, and you’ve got all the necessary materials, plant the seeds. Space them at least 6 inches apart and cover them with 1/8 inch of soil--not too much, but just enough that the seeds will be able to take root. Water the soil immediately, then wait.

The seeds will begin to germinate after about 3 weeks, and the vine will be coming in quick. You’ve just got yourself a bower of beauty.

Maintenance

With the bower vine being such a rapid grower, there are some keys ways to maintaining the vine--and by maintaining, I also mean making sure it doesn’t overtake your garden.

After the seeds germinate and you can see the vine start to reach and grow, gently shape the vine. If you have a trellis, weave it through the holes, and it will begin to grow upwards around it. Similarly, if you’re using a different structure, start to wrap the vine around it as soon as possible.

If you have a few different seeds germinating, you should only keep the healthiest of the bunch. A weak or rotting vine is kind of counter to the vibe you’re trying to establish with the bower of beauty.

As far as regular maintenance, make sure that you’re watering the vine about once a week. If you live somewhere in which the water in soil dries out quickly, you might consider watering a little more often.

Once you’ve got a thriving bower vine and the flowers have sprouted, you can start to manage it. Any area that looks rotted, dead, weak, or just too clustered should be cut away.

When you’re doing this pruning, cut far back enough to the base of the vine that it will be completely removed. Otherwise it might just start to grow back right away.

winter care and fertilizer for pandorea jasminoides

Winter care & fertilizing

As winter approaches, it may be worth it to take extra measures to protect your bower vine from the low temperatures, especially if you live somewhere that gets below 40°F.

If at all possible, move the bower vine into a greenhouse. In the unfortunate case that the winter is too harsh for the vine, it’s possible that it will die down in the winter but bounce back in the spring, if the roots are protected from the frost by a layer of mulch.

Finally, add fertilizer to the soil annually or semi-annually to keep both the vine and the soil itself healthy. If you’re using a very strong fertilizer, it’s best to apply it a little ways away from the roots and stem of the vine.

Pandorea Common Problems & Fixes

If you decide to cultivate a bower vine, it’s not super likely that you’ll run into problems with pests or diseases whose remedies will be more involved than cutting away a few branches.

Remember, this is the plant that’s from Australia, where the spiders are ten feet tall and the kangaroos punch anything and everything that gets in their way and the whole place is upside down.

Right?

Nonetheless, it’s always better to be over-prepared than under. Here are a few problems that you could encounter with a bower vine, and how to fix them.

Nematodes

It’s hard enough to deal with the pests and parasites that you can actually see, but nematodes take it to a whole new microscopic level.

Nematodes can hurt the bower vine--or another plant--by getting in the soil or the plant tissue directly. Once inside, they cause damage by breaking through the cell walls. This alone hurts the plant, and it leaves it more susceptible for other bacteria or fungi to prey on it.

To get rid of nematodes, there are a few options. Which is good, because getting rid of nematodes can be a real pain.

If you didn’t already know, nematicide is a thing. And while it might be great for killing the roundworms, it might also harm your plants in the process. When possible, opt for a more natural approach.

Here’s the big trouble: you’ll probably need to relocate the vine. In order to clean up the soil completely, the common approach is solarization. Trapping heat in the soil kills the nematodes and their eggs.

For prevention, marigolds are a go-to. Marigolds seem to do well in deterring nematodes, aphids, and even mosquitoes. Can’t hurt to add in more flowers to a garden--especially ones that repel the pests.

Aphids

Aphids are another potential pest problem. These bugs suck out fluid from the tissue and can cause plants to curl or distort because of the toxins they release. In general, this causes growth problems.

Another sign of an aphid infestation is honeydew. If you don’t see it at first, you might see it later, after it triggers the growth of black sooty mold. Yuck.

There are a bunch of natural ways to deal with an aphid infestation. Spraying cold water, vinegar, even dusting the plant with flour can help.

Introducing ladybugs to your garden is an easy and fun way to stunt the infestation.

Red Spider Mites

P. jasminoides can attract red spider mites. You can recognize these sap-sucking insects by the dusty webs they’ll leave on the vine.

The best way to get rid of these pests is with an insecticidal soap. There are certain kinds that are made specific for Pandorea vines, so try to get one of those if you can.

red spider mites on pandorea jasminoides

Related Questions

How to grow Pandorea jasminoides in pots

P. jasminoides doesn’t have to be planted directly into the ground. If you prefer to grow it in a pot, opt for a slightly larger pot size. Add a post to the soil and wrap the vine around it when it starts to grow. Prune as necessary to keep it from becoming overcrowded.

How to propagate bower vine

To propagate P. jasminoides, remove leaves from the vine at the node and bury it. Given enough time, the nodes will begin to develop roots of their own. This is a good option if you want to use an existing bower vine to cultivate another one elsewhere.

About the author

Greg Volente

Greg Volente holds a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, and worked for The Nature Conservancy leading environmental education programs and doing natural areas restoration. Besides gardening, he's an avid wildflower enthusiast, and loves botanizing, hiking, and backpacking.