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A beautiful and unusual climber

  • A beautiful and unusual climber
  • A beautiful and unusual climber
  • A beautiful and unusual climber
  • A beautiful and unusual climber
  • A beautiful and unusual climber
  • A beautiful and unusual climber
  • A beautiful and unusual climber

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!

Comments (10)

  1. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    It fascinates me how wonderful plants like this Dregea are over-looked by the garden centres. Highly fragrant, beautiful flowers, long flowering season, relatively hardy - you would think it would be better known and grown. Thank you Helene for bringing our attention to it and for offering the plants.

  2. Grower

    Amanda CW

    This is so pretty..... and scented too. How long did it take to grow over your arch? I have the perfect place - an arched doorway on a south facing wall.

  3. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    I got the two plants as cuttings and they took about 3 years to cover the whole arch. I made a video a couple of years ago to show the Dregea in the different seasons, you can watch it here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jMfmvXir5w

  4. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Oops, seems like we aren’t allowed to post links here either :-(
    You will have to cut and paste the link yourself.

  5. Grower

    Kathy Peck

    This is beautiful Helene I've never heard of it and like Jeremy can't understand why its not more widely grown.

  6. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Update:
    My Dregea sinensis has woken up and started producing leaves and flower buds. From here on it will grow like mad until November!

    You can still order a cutting or two of this lovely climber, for delivery or pick up late autumn. Last order for 2014 must reach me by end of June. Make room in your garden for this beautiful and unusual plant, it is a plant your neighbour probably doesn’t have so it is a great talking point :-)

    • A beautiful and unusual climber
    • A beautiful and unusual climber
    • A beautiful and unusual climber
    • A beautiful and unusual climber
  7. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Hi again, here is another update about my Dregea sinensis, it is now 10th June and the Dregea has lots of flowers, beautifully scented flowers. The scent is especially noticeable in the evening after a warm, sunny day, like we have had the last few days. By the end of the month I can start taking cuttings for all of you that has ordered, so if you haven’t ordered yet, you still got time till the end of the month.

    This is the time of year where my Dregea sinensis is best looking I think, when it still has that ‘new look’. Later on in the summer it gets a bit overgrown, as it grows a lot in one season, and the flowers tend to vanish a bit between the leaves. It will flower until October though, unless there is a particularly cold period in the autumn.

    • A beautiful and unusual climber
    • A beautiful and unusual climber
    • A beautiful and unusual climber
  8. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Please note, I have moved house and I no longer have the Dregea sinensis, but it is now available from quite a few UK nurseries - not so rare and unusual anymore. Just do a search online and you can find a nursery that suits you best.

  9. Grower

    Gray J

    Very pretty I want one must make a note of it and try and get one THANKS

  10. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Hi Graham, I missed mine so dreadfully so I have got a new one here in my new garden, still a baby :-) You can buy from many places now, here is one nursery that sell quite good size specimens:
    https://www.burncoose.co.uk/site/plants.cfm?pl_id=1612
    Good luck, Dregea is an amazing plant!


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