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What is a Mexican Flame Vine?

By M. Haskins
Updated May 16, 2024
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Mexican flame vine, also known as orange glow vine, is a twining, woody vine native to Central America, growing wild from Mexico to Honduras. Its scientific name is Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides, though its previous scientific name, Senecio confusus, is still used by many websites and garden stores. As a climber it can grow 8-20 feet (2.4-6 m) tall, and has smooth, thick green leaves with toothed edges. Its main feature is the profusion of bright orange flowers that bloom all year and grow in small clusters, fading to red as they age. Mexican flame vine is a popular and easy-to-grow garden plant in areas with a suitable climate, and its compact, moderately bushy growing habit means it does not usually outgrow its space or crowd out surrounding plants.

This evergreen plant belongs to the same plant family as asters and daisies, and its brightly colored flowers are reminiscent of daisies. The flowers vary in size from 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) across and commonly attract bees, butterflies and birds. The Mexican flame vine grows well in many different types of soil, but prefers well-drained soil that is mildly acidic, neutral or mildly alkaline. It should be planted in full sun to light shade. This plant does not tolerate temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius), and can freeze to the ground in cold weather, but will usually grow back.

The Mexican flame vine should be watered regularly, but once established it is drought-tolerant. This plant is not commonly troubled by pests or diseases, and like many vines and climbers it is fast growing, adding to its popularity as a garden plant. It is commonly grown to drape over or climb up various supports like chain-link fences, porch rails, and trees. If grown as a companion plant in a hedge, the Mexican flame vine will climb up the other plants and add splashes of color.

The old scientific name for Mexican flame vine, Senecio confusus, means "confused old man," and refers to its "confused" growing habit when it is left without any climbing structure to support it. The plant then grows as a mass of tangled stems, forming a low-growing shrub or ground cover. This plant can be propagated from cuttings or from seed. Seeds can be collected from the seed heads after they have dried on the plant, and can then be planted directly in the ground after the last frost in spring. The seeds should be placed on top of the soil and only barely covered because they need light to germinate.

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