Mandevilla is a genus of tropical and subtropical flowering vines.
Mandevilla is a genus of tropical and subtropical flowering vines. iStock

What's in a name? Label confusion persists

Botanical names for plants can be pretty confusing at times. As we unpacked a heap of lovely fresh plants, I was reminded of one of the most confusing plant name conundrums of all - what is the difference between a dipladenia and a mandevilla?

They look almost identical, with very similar foliage and trumpet-shaped flowers in white and shades of pink and red. But some are called dipladenia and some are called mandevilla.

Mandevilla is a genus of tropical and subtropical flowering vines. They can grow several metres tall, twining their long stems around whatever they find to support them. As well as these tall climbers, there are shorter, shrubbier forms, and it is these shorter ones that used to be called dipladenias. In 1933, the dipladenias were re-classified to become mandevillas, but the name dipladenia has persisted in plant labelling.

To add to the confusion, further breeding and hybridisation has occurred, and many of the new compact forms have been released using the name mandevilla.

So, I'd suggest we pay little attention to whether they are called mandevilla or dipladenia and concentrate instead on how they grow. For taller forms, the Sun Parasol range is a good starting point and these come in white, pink, red and crimson. Alice du Pont is a good vigorous climber too, with crinkly leaves and lolly pink flowers.

There are lots of shorter varieties that are brilliant for pots, including the old favourites My Fair Lady (white), Red Riding Hood (red), Scarlet Pimpernel (scarlet), Merlin's Magic (dark pink), and Guinevere (soft pink). The Aloha series is another collection of compact forms in a range of colours.

All of them do best in a warm, sunny position, where they will flower profusely from spring through summer and into late autumn, even flowering through winter if they stay warm.

The tall growers are best in the ground or very large pots and will need some support. The shorter ones are brilliant in pots or even hanging baskets. Both need excellent drainage, and need to stay a bit dry, especially in cooler weather.


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