Botanical name: Vigna Caracalla
Origin: South America
Height: Determined by supporting structure, approx. 4 meters
Form: Vigorous Vine
Flowers: The flowers are white-coloured as they unfurl, turning lilac as they blossom out into little snail-shaped blooms. As they age and fall, they turn cream-coloured. The flowers are quite fragrant and are mostly pollinated by ants – if you have no ants, you’ll have no pods and therefore no seeds.
Fruit: Lugume, Pea type
This vine is an ideal plant to grow if you want to cover a vast fence. While it is a bit slow in its first year, it takes off vigorously after that and will quickly hide any eyesore. In early summer it can grow 30cm a day. Once it has reached the extent of the area that you want it to cover, cut the leaves and tendrils back and it will flower profusely. As long as the tendrils are running it won’t set much flower.
Looking after: The Snail Vine thrives on any hot exposed site, in clay or loam soil and even on quite alkaline sites. It is almost deciduous in southern Australia, shooting each spring from a permanent root or stump. A single plant can be kept for at least 10 years in one spot, with not much more attention than clipping the tendrils back in November-December. That will induce it to flower from January through to March.