Dregea sinensis is a climber you won’t find in your average garden centre. If you look it up on the Internet you will find it described as a climber best suited for a greenhouse or a conservatory, but it can actually tolerate frost down to -10C and in a position sheltered against wind it could be fine at even lower temperatures than that. In cold areas plant it up against a south or west facing wall for some protection. Plant this beautiful climber on an arch, over a pergola or up a drainpipe, preferably close to a seating area to enjoy the exquisite scent in the afternoon and evening. Dregea sinensis produces masses of tiny, highly fragrant flowers from May until October and will produce seedpods ready to harvest in early winter time. Outdoors here in UK it will be deciduous. The plant is also known under its synonym Wattakaka sinensis.
I have my Dregea sinensis growing over an arch in the middle of my garden, fully exposed to the elements and it has endured all sorts of winters the 10 years I have had it – or them, I have two, one on each side meeting in the middle. I got them as cuttings and they took about 3 years to cover the whole arch, and after 5 years I started my yearly winter pruning which is necessary if you want to keep it to size. Dregea sinensis has white, sticky sap that can irritate your skin so it is necessary to prune at a time when the sap is flowing at its lowest, on a cold February day for example, when the leaves have fallen off and it is easier to see where to cut. I wear gloves to protect my hands and old clothes, as they will get covered in some sap even if it is middle of winter. I prune off about 80% of my mature plants, leaving only a few long lianas covering the arch. It might sound like a lot of work but believe me, one day’s work per year for this lovely prolific bloomer is really worth the work! Dregea sinensis flowers on new growth, is fast growing and when mature will become rather unruly if not pruned hard. Alternatively, you could just cut off 2/3 of it every few years and let it grow back.
Dregea sinensis is not suitable for containers, it need root space but can happily grow among other plants. It is very easy to grow from cuttings and I take a few cuttings every year which I try to find a home for. I have also raised a few from seeds, but they are slow to grow from seed and take many years to flower whilst can often flower already in the second year from cuttings. I would be happy to take orders for cuttings any time between May and September for delivery 3-4 months later when the cuttings have rooted. I can swap Dregea sinensis for other plants we agree on or you can buy if you don’t have anything to swap (I can send by courier). I would love to see this beautiful and unusual plant in many more gardens up and down the country and would be more than happy to share mine!