Climbing Shell


QUICK REFERENCE PLANTING GUIDE

1. Light/Sun Exposure - Full to partial sun.

2. USDA Hardiness Zones - Hardy in-ground in zones 9 and warmer. Zones 1 through 8 move indoors and treat as a house plant over winter.

3. Planting Distance - 5 to 6 feet apart in-ground (zones 9 to 11 only); or one plant per 12 inch or larger container.

4. Mature Height/Spread - 3 feet in a container.  Up to 25 feet in-ground (zones 9-10) with multiple 'leads' with a 4-5 foot spread.  Will tolerate heavy pruning.

5. Bloom Time - Early to mid summer.

6. Planting Instructions -

For container planting: Fill the container with soil to within 4 inches of the top. Dig a hole in soil to insert the lower part of the root ball.  Remove plastic containers and loosen up roots that have encircled the growing pot.  Place the plant in the hole and back fill to original soil line.  Water well, and if necessary, adjust the plant so that it is upright. Add additional soil to bring the level back up to the original soil line. Never insert the plant lower than the original top of the soil ball.

For in-ground planting in zones 9 to 11: Dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the pot in which your plant was grown. Please note that many of our pots are biodegradable. If your plant is not in a traditional plastic pot then you may place the entire biodegradable pot in the ground; otherwise, gently remove the rootball from the pot. Partially backfill the hole with soil and place the plant into the hole. The top of the root ball should be level with the ground surrounding the hole. Refill the hole with soil, firming the soil around the plant with your fingers. Check to be sure that the plant is not planted too deeply. If it is, raise the plant carefully and refirm the soil. Water thoroughly.

GET THE MOST ENJOYMENT

The Climbing Shell Plant (Vigna caracalla) is an impressive vine with white to pink-apricot-purple flowers.  It is sometimes called the "Corkscrew" plant.  The twisted spirals of its blooms are much like snail shells.  This very unusual plant was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson and it is still a favorite at Monticello where each year tourists are fascinated with the mature plants growing on the estate.

 

The Climbing Shell Plant loves full sun and plenty of water.  It will need some type of structure to climb on like a trellis or pergola. Once the season winds down, cut it back and move it inside.

 

SOIL PREPARATION

Although these plants will perform well in average garden soils of all types, we recommend having your soil tested periodically by the local County Extension Office.  These tests can determine if the soil needs any amendments to enhance your plants' growth and performance.  See below for our recommended practice to improve your soil without any additional testing:

1.  Spade or till the soil to a depth of 12-18 inches.

2.  To provide nutrients and improve drainage, add organic matter to your soil by mixing in a 2 to 4-inch layer of dehydrated manure, garden compost, shredded leaves, and/or peat moss.

3.  After active growth begins, periodically feed with Cottage Farms' water soluble Carefree Bud-N-Flower Booster. Plants in containers need more frequent watering and feeding, especially when in active growth and bloom.

CONTINUING CARE

Water - Your plants require 1" of rainfall (or equivalent watering) each week when planted in the ground.  Do not allow plants in containers to dry out.  In a container that is exposed to full sun, water it well at least once every other day, and possibly every day, during periods of intense summer heat.  You may wish to temporarily move containerized plants to an area where they are shielded from the hot summer sun (i.e.,in the shade of a tree, on a porch near an overhang).

Mulching - Apply a 2-4 inch layer of shredded bark, compost or other organic mulch around your plants to promote moisture retention, maintain even soil temperatures, and to discourage weed growth.

Weeding - Keep the area around your plants free of weeds. Weeds compete with all plants for food, water and light. Walk around the garden periodically and pull weeds, including the roots, as soon as you see them.

Grooming - Clip off dead or unsightly growth to maintain attractive form and shape.  Deadhead or remove flowers when blooms have faded, leaving as much foliage as possible. 

Feeding - Feed your plants once every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Cottage Farms' Carefree Bud-N-Flower Booster. Discontinue feeding after September 1st so your plants can harden off for winter dormancy. Resume fertilizing when new growth appears in the spring.

Winterizing - Hardy outdoors only in zones 9 to 10.  In zones 1 to 8 move your plant indoors before the first frost.

When you bring your plant indoors for the winter, select a room that is bright, preferably one with a southern exposure. Even a bathroom will do if it has a southern exposure.  Indoors, plants tend to dry out from lack of humidity; however; this does not mean to water them daily. Bathrooms simply provide natural humidity for the plant's environment. 

If you place your plant in any other room, you can boost the humidity level around your plant by filling a shallow tray with gravel and water then placing the pot in the tray.  The water level should be slightly below the gravel so that the pot is not submerged in the water.  You may also use a spray bottle to mist the plant with water once a week.

All other watering and feeding indoors should be reduced significantly.  Do not over water or allow your plants to sit in water.  If you follow these simple steps and remove unsightly or dead growth over the winter, your plant will extend its performance of joy from the day you received it.

In the spring when temperatures begin to rise, ease the plant into a full watering schedule and move back outdoors for the summer.

CAUTION: Not all plant material is edible. Though most plants are harmless, some contain toxic substances which can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, or other discomforts. As a general rule, only known food products should be eaten. In case of ingestion, please contact your local poison control center at once and advise them of the plant ingested. Keep out of reach of children.