Vigna Caracalla-Corkscrew Vine Q&A

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

I found out something really interesting this morning. Maybe this will not come as any news to those of you that grow this beauty, but after 3+ years, I just caught on. LOL
I have 2 inground areas I grow the Corkies, and this year I planted 2 big pots. The inground plants are always covered with ants & I am not able to really get in and investigate as I would like. I had decided that the 2 pots I started would remain ant-free, and have been spraying ant poison around the base of the pots to keep them out. It has been working fairly well, but occasionally a vine will wander out & touch a tree or a fence, and suddenly it is swarming with ants. But I spray the whole plant good with soapy water & wait about 5 minutes, then I hose down the whole plant and whatever ants have not been killed yet seem to not be able to hold on & they fall down into the pot where the water is soapy bubbles & that finishes them off. But that is not what I wanted to tell you about.
As I said, I have not been able to really get in and explore the buds and when my first pot bloomed they were above my head, so still no exploring. But I have a pot on the deck that is on a short trellis & it just started blooming so I can scoot my chair up & explore to my hearts content. I tried something that Laurrie had told me about, squeezing the buds together to find the pollen, but I must be doing something wrong cuz I can't figure out what she is doing. Maybe she will post and give more details. I would like to try my hand with a paintbrush & see if I can do the ants job. But again, that is not what I discovered... What it was, is that those little roundish white knobs that I always assumed where chewed off buds? they are not! They actually exude a sticky substance! THAT is what is luring the ants! It is like syrup! How fascinating is that?
I know, that was pretty long winded to get to that little statement, but hey, I got there eventually! LOL So I think if any of you have interesting tidbits about the Corkies that you should post them here, so we can have a good thread of questions and answers.

Thumbnail by PudgyMudpies
Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

I tried to get a better picture to identify the knobs. My camera does not do good closeups so maybe someone can add a better one. I circled the knobs in case no one knows what I am talking about. (I suspect that "knobs" is not the proper term. LOL)

Thumbnail by PudgyMudpies
Winnipeg, MB(Zone 4a)

Gorgeous flowers! Have you every tried cuttings?
:) Donna

New Iberia, LA(Zone 9a)

I wanted to KILL my DH!!!! He was near killing my Corkscrew vine other day by pouring gas to kill the ants...The vines was across the ants mount.. It have full of buds and blooming until I realized why they was wilted and leaves falling off from its vine.. I went and checked each vine and saw the vine from the pot was burned and die.. then it lead to the vine to turn yellow.. Sad, I cut it off and remove the vine carefully... But....

There's several new shoot from the vine from pot.. I was so happpppy! Also there are other vines that are starting bring some buds!!!!!!

From the vine that I cut off.. from the top new vine.. I made lots of cuttings and replant in the other pots.. and hopefully they will shoot root and new plant to grow.. I'll let u know soon if it come alive.. since it still up and notice few shoot new baby leaves.. Keep u posted..

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

My plants, Snail and Corkscrew vines, are not blooming yet and my Snail vine has those little bitty ants. But you know how I have gotten rid of them in other places?

I mix some powdered sugar with some Borax and sprinkle it where they are walking. They normally have a trail. And they are gone the next day. What happens is that they walk in it to get to the sugar and they take it back to their nest and the Borax kills all of them.

Ok, now tell me how to make cuttings. My Corkscrew Vine has what I call arms, 6 feet long but neither plant is blooming. Do I want to cut those off for cuttings? How do you make cuttings?


New Iberia, LA(Zone 9a)

Where can I find Borax? I have same problem with ants on my Corkscrew vine.. I tried with water/one drop dish wash liquid.. It didn't work longer..

All I did is I took long arm and cut about 7 inches each and plant in the moisture soil pots. On each leave on arm, I took leave off and plant it. I never tried this before and I am trying to see how it come.

Note: The Corkscrew vine (mine) is two years old. This year is first time that they did blooming. I keep feeding them with Miracle Gro once every weeks. On my, they are both sunny/shade on the backpatio corner.( West to East).

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

I guess I'm on a little different quest than you gals...I try to SOLICIT the itty bitty ants. It wasn't until a colony parked itself right under my corkscrew and right under my snail vines, that I ever got seed pods. They are the only creatures small enough to get inside that curled/coiled reproductive part, and pollinate it...

Now, don't get me wrong. It has to be the RIGHT fire ants, acrobat ants, or other large ants. They cannot fit, so chew their way to the inside and harm the flower.

Originally we had a Terminex contract, and ALL the ants were destroyed. Then I read that I needed the ants, so tromped around the yard with the terminex guy and only let him treat mounds that were "not the right ones". If we found any of the little tiny black ant mounds, or clear brown ants, he was not allowed to spray them...

That was not only my first season with snail and corkscrew pods, but also my first year with millettia reticulata pods....I think the ants are VERY helpful, just has to be the RIGHT kind of ant...

Borax is usually in laundry section of the grocery store. It comes in a sea green box, with a lot of horses on the front. It is a powder that helps your wash get cleaner. It is also a naturally occurring element(or mineral, I forget which), that is sometimes included in fertilizer in very small amounts.

What is it with men and gasoline?? It seems the same with weedeaters! LOL...they just cannot HELP themselves!, with them...
My hubby tried to start a chiminea with gasoline once...I scolded him and warned him, but he insisted he knew what he was he started to light the match, I ran, prayed...then dared to look back...

It blew out a fireball and singed off all the hair on his legs ,as well as a nice patch of skin...he still has the scar, lol...

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

I have not had any success with cuttings, but I have with pinning down a vine. And it really did not take that long to root either.
Hopefully Laurrie will come in here today & tell her method of squeezing to hand pollinate.
I would really like one thread with all the tips & tricks we discover along the way about these vines. There is so much conflicting and incorrect info online about these things that I think we need one place for lots of reference by people that are growing them and actually know the difference between the vigna & phaseolus caracallas.
Maybe it would be a good idea if we all mentioned a few things like what kind of soil we grow ours in, whether we have them in full or part sun, and what our usual summer temps are. Also whether or not we fertilize & if we suffer from yellow leaves.

I will start.
Our NORMAL summer temps are dry heat, 100-110 degrees, (this year is odd though) and I have some in filtered sun, full sun & part sun. Only difference is the full sun blooms earlier.
I don't fertilize and I don't get yellow leaves. The ones in the ground are in adobe soil. I water every day. Our winter temps are usually in the 30-40 degree range, and we used to only get a couple of freezes a year. But this last year we got about 10 days of freeze. The vines died to the ground but once Spring arrived they came right back.
I have a real problem with aphid on mine, but that is from the ants bringing them to farm. One effective thing I do is take my spray bottle of water with about a tablespoon of dishsoap in it, spray all over the plant (I do this early in the morning when the sun is not quite up yet, would not do it in the heat of the day) then use my hose nozzle on "shower" setting and hose down the whole plant. The soapy water kills the ants & aphid, but if I have not waited long enough before I start hosing, then the water washes them all off & they fall on the ground where the soapy water is all bubbled and that will finish off any scragglers. I have not had any problems doing it this way, but I can tell you that if you do it in the heat, you will discolor your blossoms. If you must do it in the heat, just use the hose, forget about the soapy water. Even the hose will clean it up alot.

This message was edited Sep 5, 2005 8:32 AM

New Iberia, LA(Zone 9a)

I never thought about this one.. Have any one of you success rooting the vine cutting.. with out cut the vine.. put other pot with dirts filled under the vine and put brick or any weight on top of vine.. will it root??

Dundee, OH(Zone 5b)

Donna what a terrific idea this thread!! Questions and answers, perfect, ok anyone else mess with their blooms, that curly part that needs pollinated? lol sorry don't know how to explain it, I don't have any problem getting ahold of both parts of the bloom and gently pulling and as I do this I see the "curly part" it lets the perhaps stigma come out of the curly thing......I know not scientific, but i then get the little pollen fragments and do this to the next one and so on down the plant. Don't know yet if it is going to help with pollenating them, but worth a shot I thought. I would have to have someone take the picture while I am doing this as I need 4 arms...........

OK see the curly-q thing? if I grab the left side of "bloom" and right side of the bloom at the end of that curly thing a little teeny thing pops out loaded with pollen!

I love this thread!! I think we should stick totally to questions and answers here, this could really become a great thread on how we get it to pollenate and set seeds or how we get runners rooted, or cuttings to root, etc!!


Thumbnail by OhioBreezy
Mesilla Park, NM

I love this thread too.

First year grower here, the plants so far are in one gallon containers and getting ready to bloom from seeds sown in Jan 2005. Used bottom heat/dome and lights, they grew so fast I couldn't believe it.

We are also in 100-110 degree heat here and they are in full to part sun as they are intertwined with the regular snail vine which are in full sun. I agree with dee, they sure did surprise me surviving in this heat. I do water them often as the wind and heat dries out the pots quick.

Dundee, OH(Zone 5b)

OK tried to take pic myself, so will have to explain this...
first if you look at this picture, see where my fingers are on left of flower, and look to the right, lower dark purple part of bloom, that is the one you pull on right side - then the "thingie" (please someone tell me what to call this!!!!) as you pull the thingie pops out.

Thumbnail by OhioBreezy
Dundee, OH(Zone 5b)

Here is the "thingie" before I pull on the purple petal.....................

Thumbnail by OhioBreezy
Dundee, OH(Zone 5b)

and here is after I pull on purple petal............ see how the (stigma???) pops out of the curly thingie and see the little hairs covered with pollen.

Thumbnail by OhioBreezy
Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

ok, so that strip of yellow in the back, is that the pollen too or just the color of the petal? and where are you dabbing it, on the coil? And another question I was pondering this morning, is the knob I mentioned in the first post that exudes syrup, do you suppose that is just to attract the ants or does it aid in pollination somehow...

I just take a stray vine, pinch off a set of leaves & then where the vine is open where the leaves were attached, that is what I lay on damp soil & then lay a rock over. That keeps the "wound" pressed against the soil. I have heard of some people not removing the leaves first, that may work too. I just have always removed the leaves.

I water mine in pots everyday, the inground ones every other day.

Dundee, OH(Zone 5b)

OK yes the yellow strip is part of the color of the bloom/petal. I then dab it from one to another, doing the same process until I think I got all the open blooms. I get the pollen from the hairy part that extends when I pull the petals apart, then move to next one, make the "thingie" pop out and dab it there, make sense?

I wonder too if that knob aids in pollination? no idea, we will have to investigate this furter!

Mesilla Park, NM

This is great information for me. Here is the first bloom for me. I can really smell the fragrance. Usually I can't smell a thing, I did have to use a stepping stool to smell and take a photo..

Do the flowers change colors as they age?

Also, I notice several little itty bitty flies on the blooms. A few ants around too.

Thumbnail by Gourd
Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

They turn an antique white color, then to tan & fall off. Have you had alot of unopened buds fall off?
I have been watching the "knob" I talked about earlier that oozes the syrup. It actually drips if it is not consumed by the ants. The sun was hitting it just right & it looked so cool! So the flower is not the main attraction at all for the ants, the syrup is.

Mesilla Park, NM

The first two stalks with buds only had a few each, so far none have fallen off. But, there are only about 6 on each one..

This is the first year that the regular snail vine has seed pods on it, over 2 dozen, so I am hoping that this one will get a couple of pods (wishful thinking here..lolol.)

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Wow, good for you! How old are your vines? I did not get seeds on either the Corkscrew OR the Snail until the 2nd year.
Did you grow yours from seed? Have you had any luck with cuttings? I think Taylor has, maybe she will post again.
Glad you were able to get up to where the smell is. :~)

Dundee, OH(Zone 5b)

Donna, remember Cheyenne said she thought it smelled like grape koolaid? Well my brother showed up last night and as he walked past it, ha ha ha, get this, he started looking around, I knew why, but didn't say anything, so I kinda kept him standing there near the corkscrew vine talking, and the whole while I could see him nose working, finally he asked me, what is that grape like smell, I pointed to the vine, and he stuck his nose into the flowers, and said Yep, that is what I was smelling!!! So maybe some people think it smells like grape!!! I don't know I can't put my finger on the scent myself.

My one vine as you know Donna is 2 years old, and so far I haven't seen any sign of seedpods on it yet, so perhaps the proper pollination is needed no matter how old the plant is?

Donna is yours setting seed yet? When you get the chance can you take a closeup on the seedpod etc. if you are getting pods?

Winnipeg, MB(Zone 4a)

Such a beautiful vine. I need to buy me some
:) Donna

Northern Michigan, MI(Zone 5a)

I quite agree, put them on my list of seeds to find and try !!!!

~Julie =0)

Livermore, CA(Zone 9a)

I did have luck rooting a couple pieces from my vine last year. I just cut off a piece of firm vine and dipped the end in rooting hormone and made sure I had two nodes covered. Put it in a damped gallon ziplock bag, blew air in and let it stay there for a month or so. However I do have my cuttings inside a greenhouse where it stay's warm day and night.

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

...I've heard that works well, but have never tried it...A lot of people use that method for rooting rose cuttings and swear by it...

Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

Taylor, I may have just missed it in this thread but how can you tell if the ants are "okay" ants?

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Taylor, I thought I remembered you telling me you had success with cuttings. If I am right, can you post your method? Thanks! :~)

Dundee, OH(Zone 5b)

Yes please Taylor, I would love to share this vine with others, if I can get it to root :(

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

The large ants are "bad", and the teeny tiny ants are "good" for pollinating both the snail and the corkscrew.

Bad ants certainly include FIRE ants, acrobat ants, and other such large red&black ants.

The good pollinators include the teeny tiny brown ants, clear brown ants, tiny black ants, and Pharoah ants. The Pharoah are the ones you never want in your house, because they love sugar. But, for this reason they are also very attracted to the nectar. These tiny ants are all about 1/4th the size of a fire ant...

They are small enough to pollinate without hurting the flower.

The large ones cannot fit, and are impatient. They just chew right through to get the nectar and destroy the flower.

Donna & Laurrie-the snail are so easy, I've rooted them in just water. They are very easy to root in just about any potting soil, coir, water, you name it.

The corkscrew seem harder and I prefer coir for them. Much less water content for the corkscrew. They rot easily, so keep more on the drier side than the snail...

I have pods on my snail vine, and feel it is due to the tiny clear brown ants making their home beneath the vine for the second year.

The corkscrews I have are in newer beds, and the "good" ants have not found them, yet. The buds are not getting pollinated and are dropping off... ;o(

Two years ago, I had my corkscrew in a spot where the ants found it right away. That was a great year, and I actually got corkscrew pods that year...:0)


Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Hmmmm, interesting about the moisture for rooting. That's why I cannot get them to root in water. What is coir? And do you think that sticky knob is anything other then an attractant?

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

So what am I going to do with mine for the winter? I don't have a greenhouse. Had planned on bringing them in the house. The snail Vine has a next of the little ants underneath it. Probably in the pot itself.


Mesilla Park, NM

The regular snail vines are almost three years old and there are 4 plants in each 15 gallon pot. The ones in the ground did not do a thing (except die)..

The corkscrew fragrance is something else. I can't tell what it smells like. The flowers are changing colors now too. In a couple of weeks, the six plants will go into a 15 gallon pot, they seem to overwinter better in a bigger container. They will stay outside in a protected area (under the porch somewhere)..

This past summer I put some of the passion vine fruits to finish ripening inside the bottom of the pots and a rotting banana, that also attracted several ants, maybe that had something to do with all the pods they got this year.

If anyone wants seeds to the REGULAR snail vine, let me know. I can do about 10 SASE's with about 6 seeds each.. they are very small seeds too. (or trade for something weird in the vine catagory).. some pods only had a few seeds and some had up to 8 seeds.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I still have some if you need more Gourd. I mean if you get more requests than you have seeds. LMK


(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

- I learned about coir in the rose forum. It is shredded coconut hair fiber, and is what the rose growers use as their medium for rooting hard-to-root roses.

I pick mine up at Petsmart. They have it in the lizard section, since many people use it for lizard bedding. It has the consistency of coffee grounds. But each little particle is spongy. If you don't pack it, it allows the cutting the proper amount of moisture AND air. Most cuttings die from not getting enough oxygen, as well as moisture. That is why worms are so great for the soil(aeration), and rooting in water is limited to so few plants(little to no oxygen, and the longer the water sits (stagnant) with stems in it, it actually produce a gas).

This is just my opinion, but I think the sticky knob is just where a bud used to be attached, and was formerly responsible for delivering the nectar to the bloom. Now that the bloom is not there, it is just leaking a bit...? ...just my guess...It does still attract the ants, but I'd imagine the vines main interest is still attracting them to the FLOWERS for pollination. It offers the nectar in exchange for pollination. If the ants just sipped the syrup from the knobs and left, that would not benefit the vine in any way. The vine would be yelling "hey! come back!" LOL...

-I like your way of attracting ants! LOL...learned something new!

don't worry if you don't have a greenhouse. You can still over winter them just fine. Just make sure they stay on the dry side, and experience a dormant cool spell.
I brought mine in the greenhouse a few years ago, and even though it was sunny and warm in there, the corkscrews still went dormant on me. They KNEW what time of year it was, regardless of me trying to trick them! lol...
They NEED a dormant period to rest...

Also, the ones I over wintered that year, got watered with the rest of the plants, and that turned out to be a bad thing. When Spring came, I anticipated digging those huge tubers out and planting them, and they had turned to slimy mush. It was a hard lesson to learn. Now, I've learned I can keep them outside in my zone, with sharp drainage, and a layer of mulch.

In YOUR zone the easiest thing to do, is store them in your garage, or other such place(light isn't necessary, since they'll go dormant, anyway). It can be very cold, it just has to not freeze. Keep them on the dry side. Only water minimaly, and only a few times for the whole winter...Some people even keep them in the crisper in the fridge. That is another great spot, because it is moist and cold, but doesn't freeze. But, not everyone's spouse will go for this one! lol...and many people just don't have room to spare that drawer for the entire winter, either...

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

here is the link with pictures and details of coir
It begins about halfway down the thread...

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

I have a brick or 2 of that around here! I just have to find it. I had no idea that is what it was though. I got it a couple of summers ago at the 99cent store. (guess how much it was? LOLOL)
I am gonna hunt for it & give it a try. Thanks for the info! :~)
As for the sticky knob, that is what I had always thought too, but with this one that is blooming & antless, I have been studying it daily upclose & personal, lol, and the knobs never had buds on them. It really surprised me, I had been blaming the ants for chewing off buds. Poor maligned things... LOL

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

99 cents was a DEAL!
I pay $4.99 each, for mine...if I EVER find them at my 99cent store, I'll clear the entire shelf of them! LOL

Which ants do you have? and keep "hosing off" and "blaming"?, lol

...a lot of my buds have been dropping off, too, but I think it is just stressed because we've not had rain in weeks..

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Funny you should ask about the ants I have. I was talking to Laurrie the other day & we were talking about ants and I thought I had normal ants and turns out I have what you call tiny sugar ants. I did not realize that mine were small, but turns out they are. I have only ever seen these & I did not realize that there were giant mutant ants running around in TX & OH! LOL Kind of creeped me out.

And if I had known what those bricks were then, I would have too. Bet they never have them again! LOLOL

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

Those sugar ants are "your friends", lol...they are only trying to help you get pods, lol...

That coir is great stuff. I've heard it makes a great soil ammendment in general. It is much more neutral than acidic peat moss.

I've also heard it is a great worm bin medium.

Roses love it, and I even have some roses in pots and substitued coir, instead of using soil. They grow much faster and healthier than the ones in the ground, or potted with soil ...

Greensburg, IN(Zone 6a)

I need help. I purchased this from Ebay as corkscrew vine, is it? and why do the leaves have so many brown spots.

Thumbnail by kareoke

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