Candy Corn Plant, a Tropical Vine

Botanical Name: Manettia inflata 

A vigorous climber, you can train Candy Corn Plant on a trellis. Its densely leaf-covered twining stems look even more lush when gathered around a support.

candy corn plant, candy corn vine, Manettia inflata

You could also plant this beautiful, tropical vine in a hanging basket -- if you like -- where it will trail as long as you allow them to. Candy Corn Plant will quickly get big if left to grow. It's naturally branching, but you'll want to cut the vines back in spring to keep them compact and bushy.

Pruning Tip: Cut the stems back by half in spring, when new growth begins. Be careful not to remove flower buds. Pruning will promote new growth and keep it in shape. Use sharp pruners to avoid tearing the stems.

Candy Corn Plant has become a novelty item in late summer and early autumn (when it's in bloom) because of its resemblance to the popular harvest-time candy of the same name. 

About the Flowers

The unusual, hairy, tubular flowers are reddish-orange with yellow tips. Give Candy Corn Plant the bright light it wants, and you'll enjoy a delightful show of blooms from summer through late fall. This tropical flowering vine blooms in abundance for several months. Even young plants are eager to bloom. The flowers are nearly an inch (2.5 cm) long and arise from the leaf axils on short stalks.

Few flowers? Your Candy Corn plant isn't getting enough light. If you don't have a sunny window, use an indoor grow light. Feed it with bloom-boosting fertilizer to give it extra oomph.

You can move it outdoors for the summer if you like, but be sure to bring it back indoors when the temperature drops in fall. This is a frost-tender plant. In fact, this tropical native doesn't like cold temperatures at all.

When and How to Repot Candy Corn Plant

Repot in spring when you see roots growing out of the drainage holes of the pot.

Move up only 1 pot size (1- to 2-inches larger) because this flowering vine blooms best when it is slightly pot-bound. Be sure to use a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom. If you want to use a decorative container without a drainage hole, use it as a cachepot. Simply slip the plain nursery pot into the cachepot. I put small rocks in the bottom to keep the inner pot above the drainage water.

Use a light, airy mix (See "Soil" below) because this tropical vine likes a loose, aerated mix for fast drainage. The fastest way to kill this tropical vine is to leave it in soggy potting medium, which leads to root rot. 

Don't worry about pruning and repotting at the same time. This vigorous, vining plant can take it.

Did you know...

Candy Corn Plant is in the Rubiaceae family. Although there is no resemblance, it shares this family tree with coffee plants and gardenias.

Manettia inflata is formerly known as Manettia luteo-rubra and is sometimes sold under that name. This unusual vine is also known by a few other common names: Firecracker Vine, Candy Corn Vine and Brazilian Firecracker. Some other plants share these names, so look for the botanical name to be sure you're getting this plant.

Candy Corn Plant Care

candy corn plant, candy corn vine, firecracker vine, manettia inflataPhotos courtesy of Michael Wolf

Origin: South America

Height: 6 ft (1.8 m) or more, if not pruned back

Light: Bright light to full sun from a South- or West-facing window. Moving your plant outdoors for the spring and summer will give it the sunshine it needs to grow and bloom.

Water: Keep the soil evenly moist spring through fall. Water sparingly in winter when growth is slower.

Humidity: Use a cool-mist room humidifier if necessary, to keep relative humidity above 45%. It's a good idea to use a humidity gauge near your houseplant, rather than guess. Indoor air can become extremely dry, especially during the winter months, without our noticing it. Brown leaf tips are a symptom of dry air.

Temperature: Average room temperatures (65-75°F/18-24°C). If you move your plant outdoors for the summer, don't worry -- it can take the heat. It won't, however, tolerate cold temperatures (below 55°F/13°C). Manettia inflata is hardy in US Zones 9-11.

Soil: Candy Corn vine prefers a well-aerated potting mixture for good drainage. Use equal parts good-quality, all-purpose potting mix, perlite, and peat moss.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a high-phosphorus fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation: Take non-flowering stem tip cuttings in spring or early summer and root in moist soil.

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