By: Genevieve Russell
If you're searching for exotic color this season, consider Mandevilla 'Tropical Dreams', a new variety that offers variegated ivory-and-green leaves and 3-inch-wide bright yellow flowers. The only variegated mandevilla, 'Tropical Dreams' is a naturally occurring mutation recently discovered in Florida.
Like other mandevillas, it is a tender, soft-stemmed vine. It's reliably winter hardy only in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11, where it can serve as a long-lived container plant. In zone 9, plants will survive some winters, or suffer winter dieback but return from their roots. In all other zones, treat it as a summer annual, or bring it indoors for winter before the first hard frost.
Plant 'Tropical Dreams' in a porous, fast-draining soil mix, such as one with equal parts peat moss, commercial potting mix, and washed builder's sand. Fertilize with a controlled-release fertilizer following label directions. To keep plants attractive, remove faded flowers regularly, and pinch fastest-growing shoots every month or so.
'Tropical Dreams' is available from Glasshouse Works, www.glasshouseworks.com.