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When the heat of summer saps the blooming strength of many flowering plants, Alice du Pont Mandevilla (Mandevilla x amabilis 'Alice du Pont') is showier than ever. With a blizzard of blooms that'll stop traffic, this prolific plant is a tropical must-have for any garden. When you're making your shopping list for spectacular plants that bloom continuously regardless of summer's heat, take a cue from Norman Winter, Director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens in Savannah. He advises putting Alice du Pont Mandevilla "at the top of that list." Bold Blooms and Fantastic Foliage Seriously, we mean bold. Each trumpet-shaped flower is up to 4 inches wide and 2 inches long! And you won't see sparse flowers on Alice du Pont Mandevilla '– the blooms are formed in clusters for a floriferous presentation that will knock your socks off. Flowers are a delicious shade of ice-pink that's accented by a deeper pink throat. And you won't have to wait for your plant to start blooming at an older age because even very young and small plants produce flowers. Glossy dark-green foliage provides the background that features the pink flowers to perfection. Fast-Growing Vigorous Vines When temperatures are consistently above 70 degrees F, look out! Alice du Pont Mandevilla flourishes in warm weather because of its tropical native habitat, which is primarily in Central and South America. Although mature landscape plants in this vine's perennial range across USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 can reach 20 feet, container-grown plants are shorter. But we don't mean diminutive; potted Alice du Pont Mandevilla vines easily put on 5 feet or more of growth each season, even when pruned close to soil level in early spring. Upward Growth for a Vertical Accent If you want to feature your Alice du Pont Mandevilla at its best, let it wrap around an upright structure. It naturally grows as a twining vine, so with a little help at first to train it upward, Alice du Pont magnificently dresses arbors, pergolas, and trellises. Chain-link fences are also super supports, allowing mandevilla vines to weave themselves through the large metal mesh as they grow. You can create a stunning presentation by spacing multiple Alice du Pont Mandevilla vines along a fence line. The vines will intertwine to form a dazzling flowering fence! And if you have a white picket fence that's reminiscent of a cottage garden, you'll be captivated by the color combination of trumpet-shaped pink flowers and dark-green leaves peeking through the white fence. Cascading Growth that Covers Walls Plant Alice du Pont Mandevilla at the top of a retaining wall and allow the vines to cascade over it like a waterfall. You'll instantly transform a utilitarian wall into a breathtaking work of living art! Whether your retaining wall is made of wood or stone, Alice du Pont is an elegant complement to any hardscape material. It softens the stark look of a retaining wall with its soft-pink flowers and glossy-green tropical foliage. Terrific as a Trailing Plant in Hanging Baskets If you like lush, full hanging baskets that are filled with fast-growing trailing plants, you'll hit the jackpot when you order Alice du Pont Mandevilla. As long as you place its hanging basket in a sunny spot (instead of on a shady porch) and keep it well-watered, your plant will continue to flower profusely all season long. Use it as a standalone specimen in hanging baskets or as a "spiller" addition to upright sun-loving plants in a mixed planting. Hummingbird Gardening Hummingbirds love mandevilla flowers! If you enjoy watching these tiny creatures, be sure to plant your Alice du Pont Mandevilla as a colorful focal point that attracts hummingbirds from all corners of your yard. You can even hang a hummingbird feeder from a shepherd's hook and plant Alice du Pont Mandevilla at the base of the hook. As it grows upward around the support, Alice du Pont forms a living hummingbird feeder that attracts even more birds by supplementing the nectar feeder that's hanging from the shepherd's hook! An Easy Plant to Overwinter Indoors Because Alice du Pont Mandevilla is a frost-tender tropical plant, outside its limited perennial range in Zones 10 and 11, it grows only as an annual. But you can actually keep your plant growing and blooming year after year no matter where you live. The secret is to bring it indoors for the winter where it will be protected from frost and freeze conditions. This task is even easier task if you grow Alice du Pont Mandevilla in a container because you won't have to dig your plant, plant it in a pot, and risk transplant shock on top of the abrupt transition between an outside and indoor environment. All you have to do is cut it back to 6 inches above the soil level in its container, move the pot indoors, and place it in a brightly lit location '– the more light you can give it, the better. Withhold fertilizer during the winter and keep it lightly watered '– don't overdo the watering during this overwintering period. In springtime when all danger of frost has passed, re-pot it to refresh the potting mix and move it back outside for another growing season filled with stunning color! Overwintering tip: Instead of waiting until temperatures plunge too low, go ahead and move your plant indoors when temperatures reach the 50s. Practically Insect-Free Many flowering plants require intensive spraying regimens to combat the many insects that plague them. But Alice du Pont Mandevilla is a refreshing alternative to pest-plagued plants. It has no significant or disease or insect problems! When you move your plant indoors for the winter, a careful once-over to check for pesky insects will prevent any unwanted intruders to your home. And if you've trimmed your Alice du Pont back to 6 inches before moving it indoors, your inspection will be kept very short! Longstanding History of Excellence Since the 1960s, Alice du Pont has been a timeless classic among mandevilla plants. And because of its rich history, it's the cultivar that gardeners think of when they envision a pink-blooming mandevilla. The plant was named in honor of Alice du Pont, the wife of Pierre du Pont, after a hybrid mandevilla seedling was discovered growing at Longwood Gardens on Pierre's estate. Although mandevillas had been cultivated at Longwood since the 1930s, the new seedling had hybrid vigor and an incredibly abundant flowering habit. Alice du Pont Mandevilla is still the quintessential pink mandevilla cultivar today. The Secret of Pinch-Pruning A quick and easy method gardening practice will help your Alice du Pont Mandevilla become fuller and produce more flowers '– pinch pruning. This is what horticulturists do to shape many of the thick, lush plants that you see in nurseries. After you cut back and bring in your plant for the winter, it'll enjoy a little rest period at first. But when new growth emerges, periodically pinch only the tips of the stems down to the closest set of leaves. If you keep pinching the stem tips from time to time, your plant will become much thicker, which means more flowers! And during its growing season outside, you can use this same method to keep it well-branched and continuously blooming. Be on the lookout: Mandevilla plants have a milky sap. If you have sensitive skin, wear gardening gloves when you pinch-prune your plant. Low-Maintenance with Few Needs For such a showy plant, Alice du Pont Mandevilla is remarkably easy to care for! Its basic needs are rich soil, adequate water and fertilizer, and a sunny site. Follow this simple checklist to make sure your plant stays healthy and happy: • Sun. Full sun '– 6 to 8 hours each day '– is optimal for Alice du Pont. But it also appreciates a little afternoon shade or filtered sun, particularly in very hot climates. • Soil. True to its tropical origins, this plant prospers when grown on organically rich soil. But take care to ensure the soil drains well; soggy soil can kill mandevilla plants. If you grow your plant in a container, use a commercial potting mix with organic amendments instead of soil from your garden. Potting mixes stay looser in containers to encourage healthy root growth as opposed to garden soil, which easily becomes compacted in pots. • Water. When the weather is warm, water your plant so the soil stays slightly moist, but don't keep the soil wet. And don't allow the soil to become too dry or your plant will begin to drop its leaves. • Fertilizer. Beginning in spring and continuing through summer, fertilize your Alice du Pont Mandevilla with a 10-20-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer (or organic equivalent). You can use a water-soluble fertilizer or a slow-release product. Fish emulsion is an organic fertilizer that is perfect for regular applications.
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