Words such as ‘spectacular’ and ‘stunning’ have been used to described Petrea volubilis, and that’s not hype. This woody plant, also known as Queen’s Wreath and Sandpaper Vine, produces impressive masses of blue-purple flowers displayed above paler star-shaped calices several times a year and bears a similarity to the wildly-popular temperate vine, Wisteria. The springtime flowering is usually the most dense and showy, but the specimen in the ground at Richard Lyons’ Nursery began putting on a striking burst of color in August.
Petrea is not only native across a huge range from southern Mexico into South America and the Caribbean Basin, but it has also been introduced to many areas of the tropics and subtropics. The common name Sandpaper Vine is a reference to the rough surface of the plant’s dark green leaves. It can be pruned to grow on a trellis, fence, or other support, but if left untrained, it can climb great distances into large trees. In addition, it can be left unsupported in the ground to grow as a rounded shrub or simply be maintained as a containerized plant.
Queen’s Wreath is easy to care for. It is at its best in full sun to filtered light. Once established in the ground, it is quite resistant to wind and drought, and is moderately tolerant of salt air.