Making The Most Of Mandevilla

(credit: Phran Novelli)

(credit: Phran Novelli)

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By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - You could call it overzealous pruning, you could say the shrub didn’t deserve it – I beg to differ and it doesn’t matter, because the deed was done. Last winter I whacked back an overgrown evergreen that was getting in the way of the Christmas lights. Come spring, it looked pretty sad, so in early May, with visitors expected later that day, I stuck a Mandevilla in the middle of the shorn shrub, wound the flowering vines up around the barest branches and said, ‘There, that’s better.’

And it was – and it has been all summer, with piles of pretty pink flowers providing a decorative distraction from how naked the shrub was while it had time to regrow. Since Mandevilla doesn’t have dense leaves, the vines didn’t smother the shrub so it got enough light to fill in its foliage.

After blooming for five months already, the Mandevilla’s more than done it’s job for me, so when it gets hit by frost in the fall, I’ll escort it to the compost pile. But if you have a Mandevilla growing outside, before it gets cold out, you might want to bring this tropical plant inside to enjoy through the winter.

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