I've got this 2/3 year old Cardinal Creeper in a 16" container that's become really bare at the base, making the stem look like coils of rope. The new growth seems to happen at the tips, leaving the base still bare. I did have to cut back this plant down to 1.5'/2' length from root last year due an uncontrollable aphid infestation(it was growing up somewhere I wasn't able to reach with the sprays), but it grew back nicely. Now I'd like to do some hard pruning (so as to remove the lengths of bare stems at the bottom), but am wondering if the plant would grow back up every time after a hard prune? Does the plant's ability for regrowth decrease as it ages? Also, it just shed leaves last month and is showing new growth now... though it's still winter here, and spring is still a month away. Am worried about cutting off the new growth and affecting the plant. Some of the new growth has the same curled/abnormal leaves that I'd seen during the last aphid attack, though I don't see any (yet?). What's the best way ahead?enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

17th Feb, '18: The plant might not have survived another hard prune, so that was some useful advice I got here. Here's the plant after new growth - the ropes are hidden :) Ignore the Bougainvillea, will you? It seems to want in on any pictures of it's neighbour clicked :Denter image description hereenter image description here

1 Answer 1


The older, the more stressed a plant is the less they will be able to 'bounce back' from pruning. This plant is a vine. I am not at all sure what it is you expect of the base, usually, vines at the base are bare; lack of sun, better leaves at the ends of the vines that get great light. That is the cool thing being a vine,the plant can 'travel' to find the best light.

I would leave this plant alone. For one thing, your plant is getting fairly old for this species. There are ways to invigorate your plant without pruning drastically. Have you ever fertilized? With a balanced fertilizer? Have you re potted this plant in a larger pot with potting soil (sterilized bagged soil)?

What I do for my indoor plants that are also called medium term perishables, is to take them out of doors on a covered porch for the summer. Makes them a 'long term perishable'...No direct sunlight. Lots of hosing them down washing insects and dusts off the plants. This extra light helps your plants make more food for themselves to last through the winter. I would also repot them in fresh sterilized soil, no rocks or gravel beneath the soil. Giving them a balanced fertilizer once or twice a year. Do not over water. Lots of blowing air...from a fan or open windows.

Your vine could use a fresh up pot. 2-3" larger pot, sterilized potting soil, south facing window for winter and out of doors on a covered patio so it gets more light, makes more food for itself, thus being able to last the winter months better.

Where I live this plant is an annual. Even indoors, after one year an annual that has been able to produce seed, just gives up. You've an exceptional environment. I have a feeling that you've done an exceptional job with this plant.

Annuals are one season plants...their entire focus and purpose in life is to make seed. Lots of flowers equals lots of seed. Once an annual produces seed, its job is done.

I am thinking you should get a fresh, young plant to replace. Gather its seed and try to start a new plant from the seed.

There are easy ways to control aphids other than drastic pruning. Have you used garden soil in this pot? Is this plant out of doors?

We need much more information and definitely pictures. You might have spider mite going on, I am assuming you know what aphids look like by now. I just imagine this plant being out of doors, is it?

You most certainly can cut off dead stems, branches, leaves from your plant. I just hope you don't cut a bare stem to find it is the main stem for your plant. Please send pictures and more information. This answer is just to help you to tell us and show us more about your plant and situation. Grins! Maybe I've assumed correctly~

  • I believe you've already helped identify the problem. Hadn't thought of spider mites, now upon looking closer, I do see orange furry creatures roaming on the leaf undersides...and some fungus/web-like structures. I posted those pics too, not sure if it can be made out though. To answer your questions, the plant's on a balcony, so yes, it would classify as outdoors. So far, I've stayed away from synthetic fertilizers, but have been adding compost/neem cake/banana peels/tea leaves etc etc. I don't think I've done anything exceptional with the plant though, just that I live in the tropics :)
    – VivereJay
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 11:40
  • Don't add any more compost...you are using non decomposed compost which is worthless to the soil as well as the plant. You have to add fertilizer. Just a simple extended release fertilizer like Osmocote once a season will get your plants healthy so they are able to fight off disease and insect problems. Weak plants attract insects and disease...part of the process. N P K is still NPK whether it is from organic or synthetic sources. The filler and the extraction processes might have some negative results. Adding fertilizer is as important as adding water and light.
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 22:34
  • ...and what the heck is NEEM CAKE? Grins. I gotta go look this up!
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 22:34
  • Well, interesting. I need to look at this much closer. It is a balanced fertilizer; it would be 3 1 1...N 3X more by weight than P and K. Great for lettuce and leafy vegetables. Not at all good for flowers and fruits. Too high in N. What disturbs me is the application of a pesticide without a problem. That is a big no no. Pesticide should never be used as a preventative, fungicides being the exception. That is the part I need to look up. You want a live soil with worms and bacteria and fungus, in a pot, outside, you don't want to ADD life, just not to kill life in the soil.
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 22:44
  • You weren't kidding about the 'ropes' of stems. They all look alive. Your plant should look better with that 3 1 1 Neem cake. Does look like spider mite, huh? It is in the shade. That is why it is trying to reach the sun light. Let it. Spray with the hose not too gently. Allow to dry then spray with Neem. (contact pesticide not a systemic) Do this at night. Spray that plant regularly. Spider mite hate moisture. Spray the surface of your soil with the neem as well. No more pruning. This is a vine and it can decide it needs more light and move where there is more light.
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 22:52

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