This quick growing, evergreen twining climber is a close relative to the runner bean, grown for its pendants of twisted flowers, like coiled snail shells, up to 5cm (2") across. The fascinating summer flowers are followed by cylindrical green fruits in late autumn. Requiring a minimum temperature of 15°C (59°F), Vigna caracalla is best grown in patio containers that can be moved indoors to a heated greenhouse or conservatory for the winter. Alternatively, grow snail vines outdoors as an annual. Height: 6m (20'). Spread: 2m (6').
Prior to sowing, Vigna seed should be chipped or soaked in tepid warm for 1-2 hours. Sow Snail Vine seed in pots or trays on the surface of a good seed sowing compost, and lightly cover with more compost or fine grade vermiculite until the seed is just covered. Place in a propagator or seal container inside a plastic bag at a temperature of 21-25C (70-77F) until germination which takes 14-30 days. Once germinated, grow snail vine plants on in cooler conditions.
When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3") pots and grow them on in warm, bright, frost free conditions. Pot on as required into progressively larger pots using a well drained compost such as John Innes No. 2. Provide the twining stems with an appropriate support, such as a climbing frame, trellis or horizontal wires attached to walls.
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