If you ever visit Neem Tree Farms, one of the first things you’ll notice is an incredible vine covering a metal barn with spectacular flowers and a show-stopping scent. It’s a rangoon creeper, botanically known as Quisqualis indica. In its native India, Burma, Malaysia and New Guinea, it’s also known as Akar Dani, Irangan Malli and Udani.
It’s a frost-free zone — or a location where freezes only occur occasionally — it’s a fast-growing vine, We often joke that calling it a creeper is a misnomer because it grows so quickly. It can be aggressive but it also responds well to severe pruning. We can cut the vines on the barn off at the ground after our last expected freeze date and expect them to recover by the middle of the summer.
It prefers full sun and rich organic soil. Although it will handle temperatures as low as 25 degrees, it will freeze back to the ground and come back in the spring.
Botanists believe that its flowers change colors to attract different pollinators. The flower is initially white and opens at dusk. This attracts hawkmoths with long tongues for pollination. On the second day, it turns pink and on the third it turns red attracting day flying bees and birds. All along, the scent is totally awesome.
If it will need protection from freezing temperatures, plant it in the largest pot you can handle moving inside for the winter. Fertilize with a high-phosphate fertilizer to maximize its blooms and minimize its size.
To make it easier to handle inside, you can cut it back to 12 to 18 inches when you move it in for the winter. Trimming it drastically also will make it bushier the next summer. They tend to get lanky in low-light situations.
And speaking of its shape, the s genus name ‘Quisqualis’ means “what is this?” and for good reason. Rangoon creeper plant has a form more closely resembling that of a shrub as a young plant, which gradually matures into a vine. This dichotomy flummoxed early taxonomists who eventually gave it this questionable nomenclature because they didn’t know exactly what it was.
It’s super-easy to grow in the ground in USDA zones 9 and 10. In a pot that spends the summer outdoors and the winter in a sunny window, it’s a showstopper anywhere it’s blooming.