Calico Vine Information: Learn How To Grow A Calico Vine

Calico Vine Information: Learn How To Grow A Calico Vine

By: Mary Ellen Ellis

The calico vine or flower is a perennial native to Brazil that resembles its relative, the dutchman’s pipe, and even commonly shares the name for the shape of its bloom. This climbing vine is a pretty addition to warm-climate gardens. With a little calico vine information you can start growing this flower to decorate and screen vertical surfaces in your garden.

What is a Calico Vine?

Calico flower (Aristolochia littoralis) is an ornamental vine. Native to Brazil, the calico vine grows well in warmer climates, and acts as an outdoor perennial in zones 9 through 12. Calico vine is grown to add decorative interest to outdoor spaces, to climb and cover vertical surfaces, for privacy screening, and just because the flowers are so unique.

The flowers of the calico vine are very unusual, with a purple and white calico-like coloring pattern. They are about three inches (8 cm.) long and tubular shaped with a flared opening, somewhat resembling a pipe in shape. The leaves are large, bright green, and heart shaped. The vine grows long and is great for climbing a trellis or other structure.

Calico vine is a host to the larvae of two butterfly species, and while it attracts bees and birds, it is actually pollinated by flies. One downside to growing calico flowers is that they give off a rotting meat odor that attracts flies into the blooms. Here they get caught in fine hairs and covered in pollen before they are able to escape.

How to Grow a Calico Vine

Calico flower care is pretty easy if you give your plant the right conditions and a sturdy structure to climb. These vines prefer well-drained soil but otherwise are not particular about soil type. They need full sun to only partial shade.

You can grow this vine in containers, but be sure there is something for it to climb. Water your calico vine more during the warmer months, and keep it drier in the winter. Calico flower resists infestations and diseases, so care for it is simple and usually problem free.

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Read more about Dutchman's Pipe

Alternanthera, Calico Plant, Joseph's Coat, Ruby Leaf 'Purple Knight'


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

Seed Collecting:

Seed does not store well sow as soon as possible


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Greensboro, North Carolina

Gardeners' Notes:

On Nov 16, 2015, RobertWM from Clawson, MI wrote:

Very likable and accommodating plant. I first got a couple to add some color to the yard and liked it well enough to see if it would overwinter as a house plant. That was maybe eight years ago and now I have several pots of it in both south and east windows. During the very shortest winter days, it grows greener but as soon as the days start to lengthen, it turns wine red again and can be cut back severely to make it bushy again. Some of them go outdoors for the summer, another stays inside year round and it's happy either way. It's a bog plant and likes to be wet but if it wilts from drying out, it springs back to life when watered. One quirk: the white flowers apparently can eject their seed for several inches because it will come up in any pot near it. I occasionally have to pull the se. read more edlings up from where they're not wanted. In the south, i hear it can be invasive but since it's not winter hardy, this isn't a problem in Michigan. Otherwise a beautiful and carefree plant, as long as it has its water.

On Oct 9, 2010, prettyitup from Moss Point, MS wrote:

I'm in Z8. I bought a small one this spring from someone selling plants on the side of the road. He called it Blood Plant. I searched the database here to see if that was actually it's name. I am glad to know it's also called Joy Plant Purple Knight since I hated the name Blood Plant. I love mine. I have it in part shade in front of some Hidden Lillies which are a med. lime green. I don't mind the legginess. the dark burgundy color of the whole plant more than make up for it. My house is pale yellow and I plan to get a pot of cuttings going for the porch. I think it would look awesome.

On Jul 30, 2009, Pillita from Keystone Heights, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a fantastic plant, extremely heat and drought tolerant, and adding vibrant color to the garden. It overwintered well, both in the greenhouse and heavily mulched in the ground, and reseeds well.

On Nov 17, 2006, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a very adaptable plant for both sun and shade in my garden. It is less likely to be "leggy" in the shade, from my experience with the plant, but as noted above, it can be easily pruned back at any point along the stem with no damage to the plant. I generally just stick the pruned cuttings with no special care nor rooting hormone into the ground around the plant and within a week or so, they are already rooted and I have more plants to share. I've been passing this plant around to friends and all have been happy with it. The most recent experiment with it was to place it in a friend's garden in what I would call deep shade. It is thriving there. Another plus for this plant is that it seems to be drought tolerant. Though it will wilt somewhat if left dry too long, it will reco. read more ver to full glory once water is reapplied. I agree with the above comments that the dark purple, nearly black, color of the leaves makes an effective, contrasting accent in the garden.

On Jul 6, 2006, michaeladenner from Deland, FL wrote:

Very dark burgundy, nearly black ovate leaves and stems. The literature says they grow to 36", but I suspect mine will reach higher by the end of summer. Branching but mostly upright growth. I grew a dozen of these from seeds (Parks) -- very easy propagation. In warm weather, I had nearly 100% seed to garden. I rarely get such a high rate. Not terribly leggy yet, as some have remarked here, but I see the potential. I plan regularly to pinch them back.

I think Purple Knight looks stunning mixed with yellow: Think Dune Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) and the mounding yellow Lantana but I imagine any bloom would be enhanced with the burgundy backdrop.

Its cultural requirements: Full sun, slightly improved and well drained soil, low fertilizer and not overly wet. read more .

On Oct 22, 2005, Badseed from Hillsboro, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is a delightful plant in zone 6! It is easy from seed, easy from cuttings and low maintenance. This plant can be pruned by snipping right above a set of leaves, to keep it more compact. It lends a definate punch of dark color to any foliage combination. It has worked well for me in full sun and partial shade.

On May 16, 2004, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I grew this plant last year as a tender perennial planted in both full sun and part shade. It tends to get very leggy in my opinion, with long distances between nodes in spite of pinching back. It is a pretty contrasting color with pinks, especially purple coneflower hybrids like Magnus. I did not care for it enough to keep a piece for this year. Allow plenty of space if you grow it.

Growing a Calico Kitten Plant

Calico Kitten crassula needs lots of sunshine however need to be grown where it isn’t blown up by straight sunlight on warm mid-days. You’ll discover that Calico Kitten succulents are particularly rather in filtered or spotted light where their shades can radiate through.

Like all succulents, Calico Kitten plants call for fast-draining dirt. Interior plants succeed in a potting mix created for succulents as well as cacti, or a mix of normal potting mix as well as sand.

How to Grow Calico Asters

Also called forest aster, these plants like a well-draining area which provides partial color throughout the most popular components of the day. All-natural expanding calico aster plants are commonly discovered near roadsides, in low-lying locations, as well as near the sides of woodlands.

When picking a last growing area, factor to consider ought to be absorbed concerns to dirt wetness. Preferably, these perennials need to be grown where dirts continue to be reasonably wet. Be certain to prevent exceedingly soaked dirt, as this might lead to root rot.

While these plants can be bought as well as hair transplanted right into their last areas, locating in your area offered plants might be tough. The good news is, calico aster plants are quickly begun with seed. When picking to begin this plant from seed, there are a number of choices. It can be begun inside your home in seed trays in addition to straight planted in the yard.

Sow the seeds right into apartments as well as area in a cozy area. When seeds have actually sprouted, set them off, as well as transplant right into their last area nevertheless possibility of frost has actually passed. Considering that the seed does not call for any type of unique therapy to sprout, farmers additionally have the choice of straight sowing right into the landscape nevertheless possibility of frost passed.

Regardless of which germination approach picked, make sure that the perennials are positioned in a nutrient-rich location, as plants can be hefty feeders. Some seasonal blossoms, when begun with seed, call for time to come to be developed. Freshly hair transplanted plants might not blossom the very first year after growing.

Once developed, as well as offered its present expanding problems appropriate, little calico aster treatment is required.

Calico bush

Common Name: Calico bush
Genus: Kalmia
Species: latifolia
Skill Level: Experienced
Exposure: Full sun
Hardiness: Hardy
Soil type: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Acidic, Moist
Height: 250cm
Spread: 200cm
Time to plant seeds: March to May
Flowering period: May to June

Despite being related to rhododendrons, kalmias require rather different conditions and flower best when grown in full sun. They require acid soil and make good companions for heathers. The crimped buds and round flowers are exquisite. To produce the best displays, ensure that the soil is always moist. The Royal Horticultural Society have given it their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.