What is Manettia?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Manettia is a genus of climbing and creeping plants native to the South American tropics. Some members of this genus are classified as lianas, woody climbing vines, while others have a more herbaceous growth habit. Several species are grown ornamentally and are available from nurseries and garden supply stores in addition to mail order catalogs. These plants can also be propagated from stem cuttings, an option for people with access to a mature plant.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

These plants are evergreen, producing simple leaves on vines and stems that tend to be relatively fragile. The flowers are tubular, with a bulbous base, and can be seen in colors like orange and red. Common names like “candy corn plant” and “firecracker plant” are sometimes applied to members of this genus, referencing the colorful explosion of flowers that appears in the spring, turning almost the entire Manettia plant bright red or orange.

Climbing and creeping cultivars are available, along with low bushes. Manettia species are suitable for container gardening and they can also be used as groundcovers and established on trellises. The plants generally prefer rich, well-drained soil and partial shade. They require warm and humid growing conditions like those found in their native tropics and may fail to thrive in cool climates or extremely wet conditions.

People in ranges outside the tropics can grow Manettia in a greenhouse if they are interested in cultivating members of this genus. Some species can also be treated like annuals and planted in the spring. The plants should flourish through the summer and into the early fall before dying off on cold nights. Establishing the plants in a more sunny, sheltered area of the garden will help extend the growing period when they are grown as annuals. For people interested in the look and feel of lianas, other liana cultivars suitable for cold climates are available and may be a better choice.

Cuttings can be rooted in rich soil in a humid indoor environment. For people who cannot achieve the right humidity indoors, the cuttings can be loosely bagged in plastic to create a miniature greenhouse. It is important to provide some ventilation to avoid roasting the cuttings, and they should be checked periodically to confirm they are not wilting or browning, suggesting the interior of the bag is too hot or too wet. Once Manettia cuttings are well established, they can be hardened off by leaving them outdoors for several days, and then transplanted to a desired location in the garden.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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