It's not hard to learn everything you need to know about the mandevilla plant—it's a beautiful, tropical plant that you'll find mesmerizing. Mandevilla, also known as Brazilian jasmine, is a flowering tropical plant that originated in the hills above Rio de Janeiro. Mandevilla is a woody vine that grows well in hot, Southern climates like Florida. There, it is extremely popular for its ability to climb telephone poles and mailboxes and its big, showy, trumpet shaped flowers. These flowers are sometimes very fragrant and come in colors like Red Riding Hood, Scarlet Pimpernel and Summer Snow. The hotter it gets, the more these plants flower. They are most spectacular in mid summer but will continue to flower sparsely throughout the year in warm climates, slowing down only when it gets below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mandevilla is best planted in a sunny spot or a sunny spot with midday shade in very hot places. This plant has a tendency to vine and likes trellises. The flowers can grow to four inches across and bloom in bunches called racemes. The vines themselves have sparse, waxy leaves that are evergreen and oval in shape. They can grow to 20 feet long under the right conditions and they grow fast. They will bloom even when they are kept in tiny, four inch pots. Mandevilla is resistant to pests and mildly salt tolerant. If you live on the coast it can be planted behind the first line of dunes.
Because of their beauty and relative easy keeping, mandevilla are becoming popular in Northern climates as house plants. They can be kept in pots, brought outside in the summer, then back inside to a sunny spot when it starts to cool down. Outdoor mandevilla should receive liquid fertilizer a few times during the summer but this is unnecessary in the winter. Mandevilla need adequate moisture, but it's best to allow the soil to drain and dry out between waterings. Make sure that you water them slowly enough to wet all the soil when you water them.
There are three common species of mandevilla. The most common is Mandevilla 'Alice du Pont' which has dark green leaves that are between three and eight inches long and very bright, hot pink flowers that grow two to four inches across. This particular species does very well in hanging baskets placed in bright, indirect sunlight. Vines will grow and hang laden with pink flowers amonst the dark green foliage.
Mandevilla 'Laxa' or Chilean jasmine is the most fragrant species of mandevilla. These mandevilla, which actually hail from Argentina, sport white flowers two inches across during the summer. They have a powerful, gardenia-like fragrance. The plant is also much hardier than other species and can live in temperatures as cold as five degrees Fahrenheit. This mandevilla will grow 15 feet long and has heart shaped, dark green leaves with gray undersides. This plant is likely to become tangled and can be cut to the ground in winter. It will bloom when it grows back later.
Less common is the Mandevilla 'Splendens,' an evergreen resembling the 'Alice du Pont.' The 'Splendens' has long, narrow, pointed eight inch long leaves and big, trumpet shaped flowers. These blooms are very pale pink. When they open they have rose pink eyes, then the entire flower deepens to rose. This species will reach 15 feet in length.