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Petrea volubilis, commonly called Sandpaper Vine or Queens wreath is one of my favorites. It is a fairly fast growing, tropical woody vine that is easily controlled with occasional pruning. It can also take a hard cut back if necessary, and come right back as good as new. If it is given something to climb on, it could reach heights of 40 feet or more. The Petrea Vine is perfect for mounting on a fence, trellis, or pergola. Without a climbing support, it becomes a self supporting, billowing, mounded shrub. Planted under a tree, it will climb up through the tree and make a wonderful display of flowers through out the canopy. It's amazing to see a dull Oak Tree with the bright blue or white flowers of the Petrea volubilis displaying above the Oak canopy throughout the spring and summer.
Sandpaper Vine is an appropriate name for the Petrea from a plant care point of view. This has to be one of the easiest plants there is to grow. If there was ever a "Brown Thumb" plant, this is it. Plant it, water every few days until it is established, than stand back and enjoy it. The Petra prefers soils that are a little on the acidic side, but doesn't really care if you put it in limestone. The coarse textured leaves seem to be so tough (Sandpaper) that insects won't even attempt making a meal out of them. And if it doesn't get any water for a month or more, that's OK too.
The Petrea produces a long, arching racemes of 15 to 30 blooms. Each flower has 5 petals and 5 sepals. The flower lasts only a few days, but the sepals remain on the plant for weeks. The blooming period is from late winter through late summer or early fall. It will bloom lightly throughout this period, pleasing you with intermittent spells of extremely heavy blooms where the entire plant is covered with color.
Petrea volubilis comes in 2 varieties. The one called Purple Wreath is the most common. The Purple Wreath flower really has 2 colors involved. The flower petals are bright blue in color. They last about a week before they fall off leaving lavender sepals that remain for a much longer period.
Petrea volubilis v. Albiflora is the second variety. Albiflora is very hard to find. Its common name is White Petrea, but many people use the same common names as the blue form. The blue form, and the Albiflora variety both have the same growth habits. The only difference is that the Albilflora form has a showy, white flower and sepals, instead of the blue and lavender.
Sandpaper Vine is native to Central America. It is a tropical plant, so it needs to be protected from cold temperatures. It will survive temperatures in the lower 30's to upper 20's for short periods of time. At those temperatures the Petrea will suffer some leaf damage, but will recover as the temperature recovers. Petrea likes full sun, but will also do well in light shade. The flower production will be very disappointing however in heavier shade.