How To Grow And Care For The Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio Confusus)

Known for its fiery orange or red flowers, and arrow-shaped leaves, this plant will make you do a double take. 

You might assume from this plant’s fabulous flowers that this plant is hard to grow, but the Mexican flame vine is actually pretty easy to care for.

Not sure if the Mexican flame vine is for you? Let’s take a look at everything you should know about this gorgeous plant.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About The Mexican Flame Vine

Known scientifically as Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides, or Senecio confucius, the Mexican flame vine belongs to the aster plant family and hails from the West Indies, Central America, and as you might imagine, Mexico.

While it’s a relative of the sunflower and other well-loved flowers, it isn’t nearly as well-known or as widely grown, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great plant in its own right.

This perennial vine is evergreen and can reach up to 12 feet tall in the right conditions, and depending on the structure it grows up.

It grows quickly, covering any vertical surface in no time, but it is worth knowing that the plant’s growth rate will slow down once it matures. This will not affect flower production, however, and this will always be prolific. 

It’s a perennial in USDA zones 9 through 10, and you may also get it to survive winters in zone 8 if you provide it with some winter protection, including mulching. 

The flowers appear in spring and last as long as the weather allows in fall, usually into October. They emerge as bright orange and mature to a vivid red.

These gorgeous blooms appear in clusters, and look bigger from afar, with each individual flower being less than an inch wide.

Once the flowers are finished, they are followed by fluffy seed heads that look a little like dandelions. 

It’s worth noting that brushing past this plant will mean you will get some seed heads on you, so you might want to plant it away from a high-traffic area in your garden.

How To Grow A Mexican Flame Vine

Sunlight and Position

As you might guess from their vivid colors and is related to the sunflower, the Mexican flame vine loves as much sunlight as it can get. This will provide the most flowers possible, while also preventing fungal diseases.

If full sunlight is not possible in your garden, the Mexican flame vine will tolerate dappled shade, but you won’t see as many flowers as you would if the plant is in full sunlight. 

Temperatures below 30°F might cause the foliage to die back to the floor. Most of the time, this plant will still survive as long as the temperature stays above 20°F, and the growth will emerge from the ground when it gets warmer once more.

Soil Needs

The Mexican flame vine needs soil with good drainage, and this is about its only requirement! This plant will grow in rocky or poor soil without a problem, as long as the roots don’t sit in water for too long.

Watering And Feeding The Mexican Flame Vine

The Mexican flame vine likes watering to be on a regular basis, especially during the summer. But the soil needs to mostly dry out in between watering, to avoid root rot.

It’s worth knowing that the Mexican flame vine will tolerate some dry spells once established.

Like with many plants, it’s essential to scale back your watering schedule for the Mexican flame vine in fall and winter, or even when it is cold or rainy, as the plant won’t need as much irrigation.

You don’t really need to feed the Mexican flame vine, but you can give it a boost during its growing season using a balanced fertilizer if the soil is quite poor.

How To Maintain The Mexican Flame Vine

The Mexican flame vine doesn’t need a lot of attention, but there are a few things you can do to get the best out of this plant. 

One thing you can do to keep the flowering season as beautiful and as long as possible is to keep trimming faded blooms.

If you don’t have a lot of room in your garden, or you just don’t want the Mexican flame vine to get out of hand, pruning it regularly will help keep it under control. 

It also encourages the flowers to form all over the plant, otherwise they only tend to appear on the ends of vines.

How To Propagate The Mexican Flame Vine

You can propagate the Mexican flame vine in two ways: by seed, and by taking cuttings from an existing vine. 

While it’s possible to grow this vine from seed, it’s much easier to propagate via taking cuttings. When you want to take the cuttings will dictate what sort of cuttings you take.

If you want to propagate in the first few weeks of summer, take softwood cuttings, which are the soft and young shoot tips. If you’re propagating in mid or late summer, choose semi-ripe growth, which can be a leaf, a heel cutting, or a basal cutting.

If you do want to start off from scratch and raise this plant from seed, you’ll need to do so in a heated propagator or warm greenhouse in spring. 

Sow the seeds in loamy potting compost mixed with grit and leaf mold, keeping the seed tray somewhere warm and in full sunlight. 

Once you see new growth emerge, you’ll know that the cutting has grown into a new vine.

Landscaping With The Mexican Flame Vine

The Mexican flame vine is a striking plant that has many uses in the garden. Many people like to take advantage of its climbing growth habit, training it up trellises, obelisks, fences, gates, archways, and even walls.

Others prefer to have the Mexican flame vine in a hanging pot, letting it trail rather than climb.

Wherever you choose to grow it, this plant attracts plenty of pollinators, especially butterflies, which will benefit the health of your garden overall.

Potential Invasiveness

There are many great reasons why you might want a Mexican flame vine in your yard. It’s beautiful, produces stunning flowers, and is easy to grow.

However, that last trait can be a bit of a problem. It has an aggressive growth habit, which can easily overtake areas, climbing over its neighboring plants and making sure that it is the only plant to thrive.

In warm climates, it is classified as invasive in some areas, but new vines are easy to pull up, and you can also keep on top of the plant’s growth by pruning it regularly. 

Always check with your local authorities to make sure a plant isn’t considered invasive in your area before planting, as this will save you a lot of trouble.

Other Things To Consider When Growing The Mexican Flame Vine

Mexican Flame Vine Toxicity

The Mexican flame vine is not considered toxic, but it should not be ingested as a precaution, as it’s not considered edible. 

You may want to keep this plant out of reach of pets and children too, not just for the risk of curious mouths treating the plant as a snack, but the vines are quite easy to pull down.

Overwintering A Mexican Flame Vine

If you live in a colder area, it’s worth taking cuttings from the Mexican flame vine in summer to make sure that the plant survives the winter. 

While it will withstand some cold temperatures, anything lower than 20°F is likely to kill off the roots. 

Final Thoughts

The Mexican flame vine is a striking plant worthy of any garden. It’s worth keeping on top of pruning the plant, however, as it establishes itself quickly and can take over an area.

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