Mansoa alliacea: Garlic vine

Family: Bignoniaceae
Common name: Garlic vine, False garlic, False garlic plant, Garlic creeper

Garlic vines are beautiful garden plants that can climb on trellises, fences, supporting structures, or the surrounding vegetation, producing beautiful lavender flowers. The plants can grow to a height of over 5 meters when grown on chain link fences where the vines can climb easily.

In pots, they grow 2-3 meters high with a well-branched stem that’s woody towards the base. Leaves are small, ovate, and glossy, releasing a garlic-like odor when crushed, giving the plant its name garlic vine. These are preferred garden plants in tropical countries because of their prolific flowering, which happens twice a year.

These lovely plants produce bunches of purple and white flowers that turn light purple or lavender when they become older. Later, they turn white before withering, resulting in three different colors of flowers in a single bunch. The flowers are 6-8 cms long, bell-shaped, with 5 delicate petals that are merged towards the base.

If allowed to climb to your terrace or sunshades, the plant can beautify your house and garden almost throughout the year. They need good sunlight, regular watering, and well-drained soil. Garlic vines can stand temperature fluctuations, poor soil, and pollution quite well, thriving in the Indian climate.|

They are native of South and Central America but are now preferred garden plants world over. Garlic vines cannot be grown indoors since they are sun-lovers, requiring 5-6 hours of bright sunlight a day. They can be pruned into desired shapes, and also to keep them bushy, but make sure they have enough support to climb.

Since the flower petals are very delicate, growing close to the ground will ruin the flowers as soon as they bloom. They can be grown in pots that are large enough to keep them for a few years. Since these plants are vigorous climbers, they cannot be repotted easily. Make sure you remove the top few inches of soil in the pot, and replace it with nutrient-rich compost once a year.

Although unrelated to garlic other than the odor of the leaves, they are sometimes used as a substitute for garlic to give dishes a unique aroma. They are also used in traditional herbal medicine in the treatment of cold, cough, pain, flu, fever, arthritis, inflammations, pneumonia, and chest infections.

Propagation is through stem cuttings.