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January 29th, 2020

Running wild over the beaches

by R.S. Walsh

Watch out for Florida’s Railroad Vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae) as it comes racing into to your landscape today. The fast pace of this vine might surprise you, with its signature ‘track-like’ branches slipping from your grip, and into the rest of your garden!

Also referred to as the beach morning glory, this vine gets its nickname for good reason, as it’s tolerant to the salty winds of our local beaches. Native to Florida, its preference for sandy soil, makes it a good candidate for dune stabilization. The Sunshine State offers this native perfect conditions for full sun year-round, and though it blooms sparingly throughout the year, its peak bloom time is May through November. An occasional flowering of lovely pink buds follows a pattern of opening in the mornings and closing by mid-afternoons, so catch a must-see glimpse of its beauty before it goes away.

Something to remember when installing this plant is to give it plenty of room to grow and blossom. Nothing can quite stand in the way of its weaving tendrils, so be sure to trim your railroad vine before it latches onto another plant among your landscape. Providing 3-5 feet of space in between fresh sprouts gives potential for the vines to tangle among each other, and create sufficient groundcover. With a height reaching about 16 inches, this plant grows out more than up, though if managed properly, the railroad vine isn’t too much of a burden, but rather an attraction to your garden.


Plant this Florida native among your garden, and watch in amazement as its vining branches grow before your eyes.

This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s local garden center located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel Island, Florida.

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