“Are you ready for some ‘Exotic Love’?” WOW, look at all of the hands shoot up! Well, let me rephrase that – “Are you ready for some ‘Exotic Love’ in your garden?” Okay, okay, everyone can put their hands down now. ”How about a little Mini Lobata?” Great! Now I know who the real gardeners are!
This awesome annual vine choice is called – you guessed it – ‘Exotic Love’ (aka Fire cracker) vine. Botanical name: Ipomea lobata aka Mini Lobata. This vine will make a perfect addition to your Earthen Garden, but requires full sun and has a mature height of 8 to 10 ft high. There are multiple flowers per arching tendrils. The color of each flower ranges from orange at the base to pale yellow, then white at the tip. Use as filler / spillers in a fall flower bouquet. Exquisite!
You’ll find this climber easy to grow from seed, although it takes three to four months from seed to flower. Consider finding this plant as a plantplug. If you choose to grow from seed, here’s an insider tip. To get the fastest germination use the outer edge of a pair of finger nail cutters to barely nick the ridge of the hard shell. Then soak the seeds over-night. Plant the now-swollen seeds in a professional potting media and wait for the sprouts to pop. Start indoors 5 – 6 weeks before the final predicted frost date.
Germination takes about 7 – 10 days at a temperature of 65 degrees. Additional light is required to keep the seedling from stretching to the point they become weak and leggy. You will need a grow light bulb or a shop-light set up on an adjustable length cable. Keep the light approximately 2 inches above the tips of the seedlings.
As the last frost date approaches you will need to harden off the seedlings by leaving them outside, in a sheltered area, for just a few hours each day. Add a couple more hours and a little less shelter after the first week. After the last frost, plant your vines near a support structure … a fence, trellis, light or mail post.. This gem climbs 10 – 20 ft high… or long, if you let it stretch out in your Earthen Garden on your favorite fence!
Like the Beatles said: “All you need is (exotic) love!”
Paula Kraus is a Master Gardner and owner of ‘Paula’s Plant Plugs’ - http://paulasplantplugs.com/index.html and ‘Seven Sisters Herb ‘N Garden’. She specializes in herb gardening, landscape restoration and plant plug horticulture.