Poor thing faces south and only gets relief from the sun about 4:00 in the afternoon. The 1st year was tough. I pretty much gave up on it and then last year I noticed it was still hanging in there (underneath all the Blue Dawn) This year it has come back with a vengeance!
I used to have one just out from the north side of the house, therefore shade all winter, searing sun all summer. It grew so big that we removed it in favor of something more restrained. I LOVE them when they bloom, the rest of the time not as much. They are a little coarse-looking but they are green.
To answer MaryMcP: Australian Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violacea) and its cultivars are evergreen, with tough almost sandpapery leaves. It is a rampant grower both in sun and shade, and will tend to do the "honeysuckle thing", i.e. grow toward the top of whatever is supporting it, leaving naked stems below and layering on top of itself year after year; I've grown annual vines beneath it on a chainlink fence with reasonable results. It will bloom in both sun and shade (in the species, little miniature purple wisteria clusters, with a lime green spot on individual flowers), but blooms more heavily in the sun.
One of the best things about this vine is its ridiculously low water requirements, along with its lack of need for fertilization. It will grow with as little as 10" of rainfall in heavier soils, although for best flowering 15" (with the lion's share in the winter) or one monthly deep soak will produce a much better looking vine. As for fertilization, it seems to share the sensitivity to phosphate fertilizers found in many other Australian plants; see the article from Australian Plants Online at http://anpsa.org.au/APOL8/dec97-4.html , where H. v. is listed in category 6 (don't confuse it with its sister H. comptonia, which is in category 1 and for which phosphorus is not at all toxic). Unless your soil is truly deficient in phosphorus, stick with once yearly fertilization with a low number general fertilizer (I favor a slow-release "evergreen" fertilizer with the formulation 10-3-6, which is suitable almost all desert, chaparral and Australian plants).
The Australian Lilac Vine is one of my favorite vines of all time, tied with another Australian, the Black Coral Pea Vine (Kennedia nigricans) which is similarly tough and which grew to thirty feel in an old Siberian Elm and dangled exotic black and yellow blooms like some kind of wisteria from hell!
There are at least four cultivated forms of H.v. in addition to the species. Most common, so common in fact that the species identity has been conflated with it, is the cv 'Happy Wanderer'. This is a consistently heavy blooming plant with rich lavender-purple flower clusters. It was originally propagated from root divisions and cuttings, but some growers now seem to use seed, which has diluted the benefits of the original selection.
Another named variety is H.v. 'Candy Wrapper', which has bright bubblegum pink flower clusters and slightly lighter green foliage than 'Happy Wanderer." Three other colorforms are reported: ‘Free-n-Easy' (white), ‘Pink Fizz' (pink) and ‘Purple Falls' (purple). In addition, a cluster of new shrub-form cultivars has appeared over the last two decades. The first was ‘Mini Haha', which is very compact and shrub-like with purple blooms resembling those of 'Happy Wanderer.' Two other shrubby varieties, which are a bit more open and less dwarf, are Blushing Princess', with pinky-mauve blooms, and ‘Bushy Blue', with bluey-mauve blooms.
In addition, there are two unnamed color forms, a white (sometimes, as on DG, listed as H.v. 'Alba') and a soft pink (usually labeled as H.v. 'Pink' or H.v. var. rosea). The white form seems variable in mass-market plants, showing various degrees of lilac or pink intrusion; the pink form is lovely, but is much softer than the shocking pink 'Candy Wrapper'.
One of the most stunning plantings I have ever seen of this vine was one where multiple color forms were either intentionally or unintentionally mixed. The purple forms predominated, but the winding stems carrying blossoms in white, mauve and pink made the whole display unforgettable.
starfarmer, thanks for all this great and detailed information. I really like the part about the ridiculously low water requirements. I'll try it again sometime. Right now I'm in tomato and chili pepper mode, redesigning beds and planting for a spring tomato crop.
Fish_knees - how is this guy hanging in? I had a beautiful one that froze 2 winters ago and never recovered. It always had a few frost bitten tips aftercwinters but that crazy winter 2 years ago did him in. Did yours survive the most recent cold snap?...although it might not have gotten as cold in Phoenix. Thinking about replanting, but not if someone convinces me that it just a matter of time before I lose another.
Funny, I just noticed tiny buds emerging all over this vine. The Blue Dawn morning glory that had completely covered it froze (it will be back with a vengeance though).
The original post was 1 year ago. It is a pretty amazing vine. Neglect, inferno heat, freezing temps. Still going...,
Our lady banks hedge does not take much work but then we *want* it thick full and bushy. It's more a privacy hedge than an ornamental one but I do understand they can be unruly and hard to manage unless just left to go. The lilac vine will be a good replacement. I'm thinking of putting that in to grow up a shed wall.