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Plant Uses

Best uses

Three Kings vines are useful for covering walls and fences to which they can be attached by using wire and rope and cover relatively quickly. They can also be trained over other plants but care needs to be taken as the stems are very heavy on large plants, therefore, it is best to train them over well-established trees or large shrubs. Trees such as kanuka (Kunzea), which have an open branching habit, are ideal for training a climber. A great climber for windy coastal positions.

Physical characteristics

Vigorous evergreen vine from the Three Kings Islands growing up to 10m tall and 1m wide.

Flowers and foliage

This vine flowers from May to July when other vines are often not looking their best. Flowers are produced in large clusters directly from the stems are bell-shaped and creamy yellow in colour. They are followed by large fat seed pods up to 15cm long. The seed generally takes 3 or so months after flowering to mature but the pods can be retained on the vine for up to several years.

Preferred site

Requires a large area to climb over in a well-lit position and adequate moisture in summer. Rich moist soil is preferred along with being in a position where its roots are shaded from the sun. Wind hardy.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy, well grown plants and plant after autumn rains as the soil is moist and warm and allows plants to become established before winter. This enables them to withstand dry periods during the following summer. Young plants require thorough watering during dry periods over the first two or three years mulching helps to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Planting success is often improved on clay soils by adding extra topsoil and raising beds. Incorporate coarse sand, bark, compost or other organic material to improve soil structure.

Before planting ensure the root ball is saturated and remove the planter bag or pot with minimal root disturbance. Trim any broken roots and plant at the same level as in the container. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball and firm in and water once planted. Make sure plants are watered well until established if planting in a drier period. Plant with some general slow release fertiliser, and then every spring apply an organic based fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square meter as new growth.

Maintenance tips

Mulching annually helps suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Organic materials such as sawdust and bark contribute to soil structure as they decompose but keep mulching material away from the trunk. They benefit from a dressing (50g/m2) of general purpose fertiliser in early spring as new growth begins. This will encourage more vigorous, healthy growth. Sprinkle evenly and work into the top 2 to 3cm of the soil taking care not to damage surface roots.

The first summer and autumn after planting is critical for young plants; water thoroughly during dry periods. Pests and diseases can have serious debilitating effects on young plants; check regularly. Check ties for chafing and constriction and remove as soon as plants are strong enough to withstand winds without damage.

Tecomanthe are strong and once established vigorous climbers which may need restrictive pruning to keep within the allocated space. This should be done after flowering.

Ecological and biodiversity benefits

The cauliflorous long tubular cream flowers are typical of bat pollinated plants. However, bats have never been recorded from the Three Kings Islands (though they may once have been present). Nevertheless, the flowers of cultivated plants are pollinated by a large number of native and exotic birds.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens


Interesting facts and tips

This plant is one of the rarest plants in the world. A solitary plant was first discovered on the Three Kings Islands 55km off the northern tip of New Zealand during a scientific survey in 1945. No other specimens have ever been found in the wild. Tecomanthe is a tropical genus not otherwise represented in New Zealand.