What is a Flame Vine?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee
Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

The Mexican flame vine, or Senecio confusus, is a tropical vine native to Mexico. The plant takes its name from the bright orange blooms it produces. Though somewhat resistant to cold and drought, the Mexican flame vine typically does best in a warmer climate. It is considered an easy-to-care-for plant that is seldom bothered by pests.

The Mexican flame is also known as the orange glow vine has been scientifically reclassified and is now known as the Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides. These woody, tropical climbing vines can reach heights of 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 m), and generally thrive best in climates where the temperature remains above 20 degrees F (-6.6 C). These plants can typically tolerate a mild frost. They may die back to the roots during mild frost conditions, but will usually recover quickly and regrow when temperatures rise again.

The plant may bloom all year round, especially in warm climates, earning it a reputation as a prolific bloomer. Blooms are normally mildly fragrant and can be very appealing to butterflies, birds and bees. The Mexican flame vine produces small clusters of flowers, which are bright orange to red in color. The blooms are usually one inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.

The vines themselves grow thick, pointed, serrated leaves that are dark green in color. Flowers may become more red than orange in hue as the plant ages. Though a climbing vine, the Mexican flame vine typically remains small in size and is generally non-invasive. Due to its small size and non-invasive nature, many gardeners prefer to cultivate this vine along fences and near small trees.

Few garden pests appear to be interested in this plant, and it does not usually have specific soil requirements. The Mexican flame vine is not considered difficult to care for. It prefers full sun and does not generally need a lot of water. Once established, the flame vine can be a drought-resistant plant, though it should ideally be watered at least every two weeks in drought conditions.

These vines can be propagated directly from seed, or by taking cuttings from the vines. Fluffy seed heads typically form when the mature blooms fall away. These seed heads are normally allowed to remain on the plants until dry. They can then be removed and planted to propagate more Mexican flame vines.

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