Manettia cordifolia

Manettia cordifolia in the garden of Lyn Cox in Sydney

This is an unusual lightweight vine from Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, with stunning and vibrant red-orange tubular flowers in summer and autumn, which smother the vine. I was only familiar with its cousin Manettia luteorubra (the Brazilian firecracker), with smaller red flowers tipped with yellow, until I encountered it in the garden of a friend last year. Called the firecracker vine, it twines around any support: an obelisk, arch or trellis. It can climb 2-4 m. Growing it in a large pot seems to control the extent of its height. It is completely herbaceous, dying down in winter then reappearing in spring. It seems to grow best with an ample amount of sun. Though classed as a cold-sensitive plant, it seems from anecdotal reports that it will cope with mild frosts, because of its habit of dying back to the ground anyway over winter.

Flowers in February, March.