Tips On Growing Butterfly Vines – How To Care For A Butterfly Vine

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera syn. Callaeum macropterum) is a heat-loving evergreen vine that lights up the landscape with clusters of intense yellow blooms in late spring. If you play your cards just right, these gorgeous specimens, also known as yellow orchid vines, will reward you with a second blast of color in autumn, and maybe even throughout the growing season. Want to know more about growing butterfly vines? Read on!

Butterfly Vine Information

Butterfly vines add interest to the landscape, even when it isn’t blooming. How? Because the orchid-like blooms are soon followed by lime-green seed pods that eventually turn a soft shade of tan or brown. The papery pods resemble green and brown butterflies, which are responsible for the vine’s descriptive name. The foliage remains green and glossy year round, although the plant may be deciduous in cooler climates.

Yellow orchid vines are suitable for growing in USDA growing zones 8 through 10. However, this fast-growing vine works well as an annual in cooler climates and looks great in a container or hanging basket.

How to Care for a Butterfly Vine

Butterfly vines love baking heat and thrive in full sunlight; however, they also tolerate partial shade. The vines aren’t choosy and do fine in nearly any well-drained soil.

When it comes to water, butterfly vines require very little once established. As a general rule, water deeply once or twice a month during the growing season. Be sure to saturate the soil around the root zone.

Train butterfly vine to grow up a fence or trellis, or just leave it alone and let it sprawl to create a shrub-like mound of color.

Butterfly vine reaches heights of up to about 20 feet, but you can trim it as needed to maintain the desired size and shape, or to reign in rambunctious growth. Cutting the plant down to about 2 feet in spring will reinvigorate yellow orchid vines.

Pests and diseases are rarely a problem for this hardy vine. No fertilizer is required.

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