Growing Rangoon Creeper Plants: Caring For Quisqualis Indica

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Quisqualis indica linn is the Latin name of a ligneous vine Combretum indicum, which comes from the Combretaceae family.  The botanical name means “what is it,” which is surely interesting.

Besides Drunken Sailor, the plant’s common names come from its nativity.

Flowers of the Rangoon CreeperPin
Rangoon Creeper flowers best in full sun but will tolerate part shade

These include:

  • Rangoon creeper
  • Chinese honeysuckle
  • Burma creeper
  • Irangan Malli

The tropical plant is found in Burma, China, Thailand, Rangoon, or Yangon in Myanmar, Malaysia, New Guinea, and the Philippines.

In the US, you will find it very common in South Florida.

It is an ornamental plant, loved for its fragrant flowers and rich foliage cascading over pergolas, walls, and trellises.

Quisqualis Indica Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Quisqualis indica
  • Common Name(s): Rangoon Creeper, Chinese honeysuckle, Drunken Sailor, Burma creeper, Irangan Malli
  • Synonyms: Combretum indicum, Quisqualis fructus, Quisqualis odoratissimus
  • Pronunciation: Kwis-KWAL-iss, IN-dih-kuh
  • Family & Origin: Combretaceae family, native to Southeast Asia (Burma, China, Thailand, Rangoon, or Yangon in Myanmar, Malaysia, New Guinea, and the Philippines)
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 10 to 11
  • Size: Can grow up to 30 feet tall
  • Flowering: Blooms in summer and fall, with fragrant flowers that change color from white to pink to red
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Humidity: Around 60% to 80% humidity levels
  • Temperature: Prefers 60° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Regular waterting, but not waterlogged
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize with composted cow manure or granular fertilizer twice a year
  • Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to scale and caterpillar;
  • Propagation: Can be propagated by seeds, root division, and cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Can be used as a climbing vine or trained as a shrub. Often used for its ornamental value in gardens and landscapes. The flowers are also used in traditional medicine for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Caring For The Rangoon Creeper

Rangoon Creeper Plant Size & Growth

Quisqualis plants are fast growers and spread rapidly from root suckers and seeds. In excellent growing conditions, it can reach up to 30’ feet.

The leaves of the Rangoon creeper plant grow about 5” inches long and are oval or elongated with bright green color to help create lush foliage.

Some of its leaves may drop during a cold winter but generally bounces back in spring.

Flowering and Fragrance

The Drunken Sailor plant’s white, pink, and red flower clusters are its glory.

The flowers are tubular and have a sweet floral fragrance. The blooms grow in clusters, and bright white pendent racemes in summer and fall.

Each flower is about 3” inches long and changes colors. The blooms start out white and change to pink before turning to bright red flowers as they mature.

Light and Temperature

Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 10 and 11, the flowering Rangoon Creeper plant can thrive in both full sun and part shade.

While it tolerates humidity and very poor growing conditions, it defoliates with the slightest frost.

It succeeds in tropical, subtropical, and temperate climes where it’s usually warm and humid.

It grows best in temperatures of 60° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit.

Water and Feeding

The Rangoon creeper plant is native to tropical and sub-tropical climes and needs sun and water regularly.

Allow enough time to let the soil dry before watering it again. Moreover, it prefers around 60% to 80% humidity levels.

As for fertilizers, they don’t require heavy feeding. If your soil lacks nutrients, add composted cow manure or granular fertilizer.

Fertilize twice a year, once in the fall and once in spring. Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen, as they will encourage healthy foliage growth at the expense of flowering.

Rangoon Creeper Plant Soil & Transplanting

This non-fussy grower can tolerate and thrive in most soils.

If the soil is well-drained and pH-adaptable, the vine will spread and flower abundantly.

The vine will transplant but doesn’t need to be, as plants usually grow upwards from suckers coming up from the root system.

Divide the roots of the Rangoon creeper plant and relocate to new locations easily.

Grooming and Maintenance

Cut plants back to shape the shrub in early spring before flowering from June to September.

When you’ve given the vine the best growing conditions, you must prune plants regularly to keep it in bounds.

Moreover, this vine needs the support of a trellis or fence so it can provide height for future growth.

How To Propagate Quisqualis Vines

Quisqualis propagates from seeds, root division, and cuttings.

Seeds sown in the soil will grow into luscious plants. However, it is difficult.

You may have more success with cutting or division.

Wait for the rainy season in the summer to get a green cutting, sow it in peat in a seed tray, and place it in a humid environment with partial shade.

Keep the new plant hydrated; the cutting may root in a month or so.

The division is done in the same season.

  • First, expose the root system of the mother plant very carefully and then find spots to cut and divide the plant into two.
  • Loosen up the small roots to allow them to spread.
  • Move the cutting into an individual pot and then move them into a soaking tub overnight.
  • Move the plants to a shaded location the next day until the new growth stabilizes.

Quisqualis Pest or Diseases

There are no serious pest or disease problems one needs to be wary about regarding the Rangoon creeper vine.

The occasional insects which may plague the plant are scale and caterpillar attacks. 

Related: Details on how to kill caterpillars on plants.

Fortunately, both problems are remedied with one trip to your local gardening center.

Related: More on killing caterpillars naturally here.

DO NOT overwater or keep the soil too wet, as these conditions can lead to root rot.

Uses For Rangoon Quisqualis

In agriculture and gardens, the Chinese Honeysuckle is a popular choice among cultivators and gardening enthusiasts alike.

However, this creeping, tropical vine needs support to grow. This is why plants are often used to cover walls or grow on supports or trellises.

In subtropical and tropical Asia, such as Pakistan and China, you will find this creeping vine covering house fences or as a hedge plant.

It makes a splendid vine for hot, humid locations and can be grown as ornamentals over gazebos, arbors, and pergolas.

They also make excellent cut flowers for arrangement in low bowls.

Flowers of the Rangoon creeper are said to be full of nectar, making them great for attracting pollinators like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

The plant is also said to have medicinal properties.

Different parts of the plant, including the root, leaves, or fruit, are used in herbal medicine to treat several ailments.

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