Growing Candy Corn Plants: How To Care For Manettia

The Manettia is an evergreen perennial vine from South America that produces unusual, small bell-shaped flowers resemble candy corn.

Manettia pronounced [man-ET-ee-uh] and is a genus with over 120 species.

It belongs to the Rubiaceae family of flowering plants, which includes the Coffea plant (known for coffee beans).

flower of the Candy Corn Plant - Manettia
Image by Michael WolfOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0 – Wikimedia

The Manettia genus was named after Saverio Manetti, a famed Italian physician and botanist.

While most people refer to the plant as the candy corn plant, it is also known as the cigar flower or firecracker vine.

Manettia Plant Care

Size & Growth

This flowering vine often spreads to two to three feet and may reach a height of four to ten feet depending on the growing location and zone.

It is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. Grow the candy cone plant on a trellis or even as a hanging basket plant.

If you want to keep it from becoming a growing vine, you can keep it trimmed back to keep it as a shrub.

Flowering and Fragrance

The leaves are evergreen, which means there stay throughout the winter. However, the flowers may come at various times during the year, depending on the variety and the region.

The red-orange and yellow flowers give the Manettia plant one of its common names. These bell-shaped flowers look like the candy corn that is commonly passed out during Halloween.

Light & Temperature

When choosing a spot for the candy corn vine, select an area with full to partial sun (full sun except in midsummer). If the plant struggles to get enough sunlight.

Most varieties of Manettia plants like plenty of sunlight. They are suited for warm and humid climates and do not do well with too much shade.

The plant enjoys warmth with a minimum 60 degrees Fahrenheit

Watering, Feeding, and Fertilizing

For optimal growth, ensure that the soil is evenly moist without getting soggy, especially during the active growing period.

When using fertilizer, remember these tips:

  • Use a diluted high-potassium liquid plant fertilizer
  • Avoid heavy fertilizer applications
  • Apply fertilizer every two weeks during the spring and summer

The plant tends to grow steadily through the spring and summer. By fall, the growth should slow, requiring less water.

During the winter, the plant is dormant and may only need to be watered only once per month.

In the spring and summer, some gardeners like to spritz the plant each morning with a spray bottle. Misting the plant helps recreate the warm, humid conditions that it thrives in.

NOTE: When growing indoors, misting is recommended, especially if your home tends to get dry.

Soil & Transplanting

When planting the Manettia plants, remember that they can spread up to two or three feet and may reach heights of four feet or more.

Use a soil with good drainage. Any well-drained house-plant soil kept moist works well.

However, if you want to create the ideal environment for the plant, consider using a combination containing equal parts of the following materials:

  • Perlite
  • All-purpose potting soil
  • Peat moss

This lightweight media is perfect for the plant and suitable for potted planting, especially if you choose to use a hanging basket.

When growing in a container, use at least a one-gallon container. In fact, a three-gallon container (10” inch) is recommended.

Grooming

Grooming is needed to manage the growth of this vine. Manettia plants grow very quickly, especially when properly cared for.

Occasionally trim the tops of the plant to control the height. Like most vines, you do not need to worry about trimming it back too far.

How to Propagate Manettia

Propagation is by seeds or stem cuttings.

Take cuttings from Manettia plant, in early spring and follow these steps:

  • Take small 4″ – 6″ inch cuttings
  • Dip cutting in rooting hormone
  • Place the cuttings in a tray
  • Cover tray with plastic wrap
  • Move the cuttings to pots after roots develop

When the plants are at least a foot tall, you can transplant them outdoors, unless you prefer to keep them in pots for indoor growing.

NOTE: Only take cuttings from mature stems.

Pest, Disease or Problems The Firecracker Vine Encounters

The Manettia plant may suffer from a variety of disease and infestations. You may notice small, white mealybug insects under the leaves. A spray is often required to deal with the pest.

You may also notice that the leaves drop. This is often the result of over-watering.

Other issues include yellow leaves and slow growth. This may occur in the summer if the plant does not get enough nutrition. Use liquid fertilizer to help the plant out.

What Are the Most Popular Manettia Varieties?

Manettia bicolor – I’ve seen “bicolor” climb a 6’ foot cord to make a symmetrical leafy column with small side branches holding out “Candy Corn flowers.”

The plant help bright-red tube flowers with gold tips from early March until November.

This small vine has never been invasive or too monstrously heavy.

Manettia glabra – Taller species grown outdoors in the South, with larger flowers completely crimson.

The most popular variety of Manettia plant is the Manettia inflata, which is also known as the Manettia luteorubra.

This is the standard candy corn vine with the colorful flowers. However, there are over 120 other species in this genus.

Some of the other varieties produce differently colored flowers. Instead of the candy corn pattern, most varieties have bright red flowers with longer shoots.

Best Uses For The Candy Corn Plant Indoors or Outdoors

Most varieties of Manettia plants are best grown outdoors.

As potted accent plants growing in containers, train Manettia as a background or patio specimen.

These plants can grow quickly. They also need plenty of sunlight, water, and humidity.

However, it is possible to grow them indoors. You should use a large pot and ensure that you keep an eye on the growth. Keep the vine trimmed back to keep it from taking over your home.

Indoors, where the air is humid, they will climb slim supports to frame a sunny window.

Family: Rubiaceae
Common Name: Candy Corn Plant, Firecracker Vine