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Australian Native Plant Profile: Fraser Island Creeper (Tecomanthe hillii)

I like to write articles containing handy gardening tips, secrets, and general botanical and horticultural nerdiness.

Tecomanthe hillii, commonly known as Fraser Island Creeper, is a woody evergreen perennial climber which can grow up to 10m high with appropriate support such as a tall tree to climb.

Common Names: Fraser Island Creeper, Roaring Meg (although strictly this refers to a different Tecomanthe species)

Scientific Name: Tecomanthe hillii

Synonyms: None

Family: BIGNONIACEAE

Characteristics of Fraser Island Creeper

Fraser Island Creeper has attractive lush green, glossy, pinnate foliage on multiple twinning stems. It produces prolific skirt-like clusters of 6-cm-long, pinkish-cream throated, lipstick-pink coloured flowers on old growth during October. Tecomanthe hillii is a rare plant that is endemic to (can only be found wild in) Eastern Queensland, Australia.

A cluster of Tecomanthe hillii flowers.

A cluster of Tecomanthe hillii flowers.

Horticultural Uses of Fraser Island Creeper

Tecomanthe hillii makes an ideal courtyard plant. It performs well when grown along fences and verandas or over pergolas or archways. Alternatively Tecomanthe hillii can also be trained up any fast-growing, open-canopied tree. Fraser Island Creeper is also suitable for planting in pots on trellising. When grown this way it can be moved inside when it begins to flower and be used as a spectacular indoor feature plant. Tecomanthe hillii is also suitable for second-line coastal plantings in native re-vegetation projects.

There are no recorded traditional uses of Fraser Island Creeper.

Limitations When Planting Fraser Island Creeper

Tecomanthe hillii requires a solid support structure when planting, as its strong lianes (woody climbing stems) may damage lightweight support including the eaves of buildings. Ideally, an already established tree should be used as support for Tecomanthe hillii to grow up.

Natural Growing Environment of Tecomanthe Hillii

As its name suggests, Fraser Island Creeper is native to Fraser Island in South-East Queensland; however, there are also small isolated populations on mainland South-East and North-East Queensland. Tecomanthe hillii is often found naturally growing in sandy soils that are close to water sources throughout its range. Fraser Island experiences an approximate average minimum temperature of 22oC and maximum of 28oC during January, and an average minimum temperature of 14oC and maximum of 20oC during July. The mean annual rainfall on Fraser Island is 1384mm, concentrated from January through to March, with 145 days of rainfall across the year.

Tips For Growing Fraser Island Creeper

Tecomanthe hillii thrives when grown in both full sunlight and in the shade and tolerates mild frosts. A Fraser Island Creeper plans exposed to full sun will have a more compact growth habit than those grown in the shade. As it doesn't tolerate damp roots for too long, make sure you choose a location with good drainage when planting your vine. Care should be taken to plant away from walls to avoid lime toxicity from concrete building foundations. This has the additional benefit of allowing access to as much natural rainfall as possible which may otherwise be blocked by overhanging guttering. If planting Fraser Island Creeper in containers, be sure to only use a good quality, low-phosphorus growing media. No particular pests or disease commonly affect this species.

Fertilizer and Watering

Tecomanthe hillii benefits from an application of complete native gardens slow-release fertilizer to the soil during planting. Once established, the vines can be fertilized lightly in early spring each year with a very-low-phosphate slow-release fertilizer. Although Tecomanthe hillii has low water needs once established, to achieve best results and a spectacular floral display, it's best to water regularly. But be sure to avoid over-watering or the roots of your vine will rot.

Pruning

As far as pruning goes, Fraser Island Creeper only requires an occasional trim to keep it growing in your desired shape.

Transplanting

Tecomanthe hillii transplants readily if the plant has not already become too intertwined with its support structure. The best time to transplant Fraser Island Creeper is during late autumn or winter.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

lynda sharples on February 17, 2018:

My Fraser island creeper has given me a seed pod ? any hints on what to do now ?

Bronwyn on September 12, 2017:

Thank you for your very informative information on the beautiful Frasor Island Creeper. Now I have to find a stockist in Brisbane .

lynda sharples on September 08, 2017:

My fraser island creeper is in bud ....lots of flowers to come :) Brisbane Australia

TheNerdyGardener (author) from Brisbane, Australia on January 06, 2012:

While I think the weather might be alright in Southern California for it, I doubt it would be available. It's hard enough to find here, even though I live quite close to where it naturally grows. I've never seen it for sale outside of a few sellers on ebay and a few specialist nurseries who list their catalogs online.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 05, 2012:

A beautiful plant. I'm wondering if it will grow here in Southern California, or if it's even available. Voting this Up and Interesting.

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