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How to Grow the Garlic Vine (Mansoa alliacea)

If you want to liven up your garden with pretty flowers, look no further than Mansoa alliacea, better known as the Garlic Vine Plant or False Garlic. Garlic Vine is a tropical vine native to northern South America, from approximately Brazil to the southern edge of Mexico.

Humans have transplanted Mansoa alliacea worldwide, from as close to its native area as Puerto Rico and the West Indies to southern Africa and Thailand.

The Garlic Vine is an excellent substitute for true Garlic, has a longstanding tradition of medicinal uses, and is very easy to cultivate. You only need a spot with full sunlight and well-draining soil to grow the lush, lavender flowers and trailing vines of False Garlic.

How to Grow False Garlic (Mansoa alliacea)

mansoa alliacea plant
The Garlic Vine’s beautiful flowers and bright, waxy leaves are familiar sights in the Amazon rainforest.

The Garlic Vine is a unique plant, and it’s one of the best border or arbor vines to cultivate, thanks to how easy it is to grow and how useful it can be.

What Is the Garlic Vine?

Garlic Vine is a tropical, woody vine native to northern South America, from approximately Brazil to the southern edge of Mexico. This plant is known as the False Garlic plant because it has a similar taste to Garlic.

False Garlic is a common flowering vine many people use as an ornamental. It’s a popular addition to fences, arbors, and trellises since it has gorgeous flowers and is easy to care for.

Even though this plant is not from the allium family, False Garlic has a garlicky taste and smell, primarily when you crush the leaves. Thus, you can use the Garlic Vine as a substitute for true Garlic in a pinch.

So, False Garlic is not just a lovely ornamental! It’s also a practical and edible garden plant.

False Garlic Flowers

False Garlic is easy to recognize due to its long, trumpet-shaped flowers, which usually vary from lavender to white.

The garlic vine is an excellent addition to any garden because of its beautiful and showy flowers.

Mansoa alliacea is in the family of Bignoniaceae, the Trumpet Creeper family. This family comprises related plants whose flowers are trumpet-shaped, such as Glow Vine and Bignonia.

The flowers on Garlic Vines have a funnel-like shape and grow in clusters on the vines. Most begin as a startlingly bright shade of lavender before gently fading to a pale pink and white color.

These flowers bloom twice a year when you grow them in a warm climate, blooming first in spring, then once again in fall. So, if you’re looking for a frequent-flowerer, this vine might be a great addition to your garden!

Where is False Garlic Native To?

In its native habitat in South America, Garlic Vine is known as Ajo sativa. This name is Spanish-Quechua for forest garlic or wild Garlic, so named because of its garlicky taste and smell and because it spreads quickly in its native forested habitat.

False Garlic grows in the clearings of tropical Amazonian rainforests, where it gets compost-rich soil, bright sunlight, and plenty of rain. However, it has long been a popular ornamental, and you’ll find it as a fence-covering vine in many residential and urban areas in South America.

Growing The Garlic Vine: Care Instructions and Tips

mansoa allicea garlic vine
It only takes minimal care to grow a Garlic Vine of this size.

The Garlic Vine is a very simple plant to grow and care for. So, even if you don’t have a green thumb, this plant will make a perfect addition to your garden.

To keep a Garlic Vine healthy and thriving, here’s what it needs:

Support The Garlic Vine With an Arbor, Trellis, or Fence

garlic vine climbing over frame and screen door
My Garlic vine!

Garlic Vine, as well as its closely related cousin Membranous Garlic Vine (Mansoa hymenaea), is a woody vine that likes to attach itself to the trunks of large trees as it grows up towards the sunlight.

Remember that since the garlic vine is woody, you should be careful about growing it over wooden structures or fences. It can get quite heavy and possibly cause the frame to collapse.

If you don’t have any large trees handy or want to make some other ornamental use out of Garlic Vine, you can also grow it over an arbor to create a beautiful entrance to a garden, train it to climb up a trellis, or drape it over a chain-link fence to spruce it up.

Related: Fifteen of the Best Garden Arbors to DIY

Give the Vine Full Sunlight

false-garlic-on-a-brick-wall
Placing your False Garlic on a tall wall, arbor, or fence supports the heavy, woody vine and gives it some well-needed sunlight.

Since the garlic vine’s native environment is tropical, it enjoys a warm, sunny climate with lots of direct sunlight throughout the day.

The garlic vine thrives with eight to twelve hours of direct sun exposure daily. Still, it will tolerate some partial shade if that’s not possible. Just ensure that your vine gets at least six hours of sunlight.

Plant Garlic Vine in Rich, Well-Draining Soil

When planting Mansoa Alliacea, provide ample drainage in the soil.

It prefers compost-rich soil that drains well, although it can also tolerate some clay-based or sandy soils.

Garlic Vine Hardiness and Overwintering

As a tropical plant, Mansoa Alliaceae is not tolerant of cold temperatures. Thus, if you want to keep your vine alive over winter and live in a climate with frosts, you’ll need to bring this plant inside.

A good rule of thumb is that it will grow best in USDA zones 9 through 11. In these hardiness zones, you won’t need to bring Flase Garlic inside for the winter.

Garlic Vine Size and Pruning

bright purple false garlic flowers
This lush growth can be challenging to control if you don’t prune it!

One thing to remember is that if you choose to grow this spectacular vine in the ground, it usually extends from between three to five feet, although it can grow up to eight feet tall. Keeping this growth in check is critical unless you want the Garlic Vine to take over your garden.

Luckily, Garlic Vine doesn’t grow too quickly, so it should be easy to keep it from crawling everywhere with regular pruning after it has shed its flowers. A yearly trim will usually suffice to keep it looking its best.

When To Plant Mansoa Aliiaceae

Planting False Garlic in the late summer or early fall is best. Planting during this season will ensure that the seeds germinate and bloom by spring.

However, if you live in a climate with frosty winters, it’s best to wait until the last frost to plant these vines.

However, seeds can be challenging to find. In most cases, you’ll only be able to find a starter like this one:

Garlic Vine Mansoa Alliacea Starter
$51.00
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11/29/2022 07:41 pm GMT

Propagating the Garlic Vine

You can also easily propagate the garlic vine from cuttings, which is part of why seeds are so rare.

To propagate Mansoa alliacea, take a cutting from the woody stem with at least three nodes. Then, transplant the cutting into a container of soil. The cutting should root within a few weeks.

It’s best to propagate the Garlic Vine in warm weather, so wait until later spring or summer to take cuttings.

However, this plant is very easy to propagate, and your chances of success will be high. So, once you get your plant, you can spread Garlic Vine to different parts of your property.

Cuttings will also make it easy to share this spectacular plant with friends and family. Pass on the enjoyment of the Garlic Vine’s beauty to others!

Can You Eat the Garlic Vine?

mansoa-allicea-flowers-and -plant
Both the flowers and leaves of the Garlic Vine are edible.

In addition to its gastronomic versatility, Mansoa Alliacea has also been used in the medicinal traditions of the indigenous Amazonian tribes.

Even though it is not related to true Garlic and is not in the allium family (which includes Garlic and onions), False Garlic is still a great ingredient in cooking.

You can eat the garlic vine in several ways, and it will add a garlicky flavor to your food. False Garlic makes an excellent substitute for true Garlic because both plants contain similar sulfides and oils. If you want to eat False Garlic in food, there are several ways to enjoy it.

Some of the best parts of this plant to consume include:

  • The young leaves. Younger leaves from the Mansoa alliacea are soft and tender. These leaves are best when you chop them up and use them as a fresh herbaceous garnish. They make an excellent substitute for chives.
  • The older leaves. Like younger ones, you can still use the older leaves chopped up. Still, since they are chewier than the younger leaves, it is best to crush them before cooking. The older leaves can also be dried and turned into powder for use the same way you would use garlic powder in food.
  • The flowers. Garlic Vine flowers are edible, much like zucchini flowers. The taste and texture of the flowers are much better when they are younger and can have a crispy texture with a fruity or sweet garlicky taste. The texture won’t be as nice as the flowers get older, and the flavor will fade.

Garlic Vine Medicinal Uses

Mansoa alliacea leaves on white background
The leaves and flowers of the garlic vine are a traditional medicine used by people living in the Amazonian regions of South America.

This is not medical advice but a presentation of the traditional medical practices of some of the Amazonian native tribes. Always consult your doctor before taking any medicine, natural or otherwise. If you wish to use Garlic Vine as holistic medicine, please contact your doctor to ensure it is OK. You should always consult a professional before adding anything to your medical repertoire or going off any medicines.

In addition to its gastronomic versatility, Mansoa alliaceae is an essential ingredient in indigenous Amazonian tribes’ medicinal traditions.

In traditional medicine, some people use the Garlic Vine to alleviate the symptoms of fevers, colds, the flu, respiratory issues, arthritis, and other rheumatic and inflammatory issues.

As with true Garlic, False Garlic is sometimes used to alleviate high cholesterol, constipation, and indigestion symptoms.

The traditional ways of preparing and taking False Garlic are by infusion, decoction, tincture, or capsule. Some of the ways indigenous Amazonians use these preparations include:

  • The fresh leaves are usually used to make an infusion or tea to help with sickness or inflammatory issues.
  • The bark or roots of False Garlic are usually used in decoctions or tinctures, which may aid in treating illnesses and inflammation. Others may use a False Garlic tincture as a laxative or antispasmodic.
  • Adding the leaves to a bath may help fight aches, pains, cramps, fatigue, and fever.
  • Crushed leaves are applied to the forehead to help with headaches.
  • Leaves were traditionally applied to the body as an insect or snake repellent.

Since False Garlic shares some of the same compounds as true Garlic, it may also help treat high cholesterol. Likewise, these chemical compounds make it an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

In some traditional medicine, it is also used as an antifungal, diuretic, and for treating diabetes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Well, I might just have the answers for you!

Is Garlic Vine Fast Growing?

Garlic vine is fast growing, but not as fast as some other vines, such as ivy or passion vines. Regular pruning every year after the flowers wilt should keep the vine from climbing too far.

Is Garlic Vine Invasive?

The Garlic Vine is not an invasive plant. Mansoa alliacea is native to the Americas and does not spread so rapidly as to become invasive. The plant also has little tolerance for cold, which controls its growth.

Is Garlic Vine Toxic to Dogs and Pets?

Garlic Vine is not toxic to dogs and pets, but you should not feed your pets this plant in case of a reaction. However, traditionally, indigenous peoples of the Amazon fed the flowers of this plant to their dogs, and it is low-risk to animals.

Final Thoughts: Will You Grow a Garlic Vine?

false garlic flowers on plant
What a lovely sight! The garlic vine is practical and gorgeous, so it’ll always have a spot in my garden!

Mansoa Alliacea, also known as Garlic Vine or False Garlic, is a beautiful and eye-catching addition to any garden. It loves a warm and sunny garden the best, although you can grow it in pots in more temperate climates.

The most critical requirement is a sturdy and high place to climb since it gets up to five feet tall, occasionally reaching heights of eight feet.

Garlic vine’s stunning beauty and garlicky smell belie its many uses. Despite being no relation to the Allium family, you can still use it to season food. It is also common in traditional indigenous medical practices and might bring you some health benefits, too.

Hopefully, all this information inspired you to bring a new Garlic Vine into your garden!

How to grow the Garlic Vine (Mansoa alliacea)
How to grow the Garlic Vine (Mansoa alliacea) – share it with your friends!

Author

  • Elle

    Jack of all trades, master of some. Wild garden grower. Loves creating stuff. From food forests and survival gardens to soap and yoghurt. A girl on a farm with two kids and one husband (yep, just one - although another one would be handy). Weirdly enjoys fixing fences and digging holes. Qualified permaculture teacher and garden go-to.

Suzanne Harris

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

I love all your photos in this article. Looks like a beautiful plant to grow to cover up old sheds, trees, fences and shade houses.

Elle

Thursday 20th of August 2020

The Garlic Vine sure packs a punch when it comes to color!

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