Australian Native Plant Profile: Fraser Island Creeper (Tecomanthe hillii)
Common Names: Fraser Island Creeper, Roaring Meg (Although strictly this refers to a different Tecomanthe species)
Scientific Name: Tecomanthe hillii
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.
Characteristics of Tecomanthe hillii
Fraser Island Creeper has attractive, lush, green, glossy, pinnate foliage on multiple twinning stems. It produces prolific skirt-like clusters of 6cm long, pinkish-cream throated, lipstick-pink coloured flowers on old growth during October. Tecomanthe hillii is a rare plant that is endemic (can only be found in) to Eastern Queensland, Australia.
Horticultural uses of Tecomanthe hillii
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 they can be moved inside when they begin 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 known.
Limitations when planting Fraser Island Creeper
Tecomanthe hillii requires a solid support structure when planting as their 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 the 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 Tecomanthe hillii
Tecomanthe hillii thrives when grown in both full sunlight and in the shade and tolerates mild frosts. Fraser Island Creeper plants 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 position with good drainage when planting your Tecomanthe hillii vine. Care should be taken to plant away from walls to avoid lime toxicity from concrete building foundations. This allows 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 into containers be sure to only use a good quality, low phosphorus growing media.
Tecomanthe hillii benefits from an application of a complete native gardens slow-release fertiliser 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. As far as pruning goes, Fraser Island Creeper only requires an occasional trim as to keep it growing in your desired shape. Tecomanthe hillii transplants readily if the plant has not already become too intertwined with its support structure. The best time to transplants Fraser Island Creeper is during late Autumn or Winter. No particular pests or disease commonly affect this species.