How to Grow and Care for Snail Vine Plants

White and purple shell flowers on vine with delicate oval leaves

 Sebastiao Pereira-Nunes / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The snail vine plant (Cochliasanthus caracalla) is a tender perennial that grows in warm, humid regions. In summer and fall, it bears beautiful curly, shell-shaped flowers that range from pale pink to lavender. The plant is fast-growing and can grow in the same season it was planted. The snail vine plant is native to Central and South America. 

Common Name Snail vine
Botanical Name Cochliasanthus caracalla 
Family Fabaceae
Plant Type Perennial, vine
Mature Size 15-20 ft. long
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Well drained, fertile
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color White, pink, purple
Hardiness Zones 9-11 (USDA)
Native Areas Central and South America
Wisteria blue flower of the snail vine, close up with green leaves in background
The snail vine's flowers come in a range of colors, beginning with white buds and then turning shades from pale to coral pink or a range of purples, including this lovely wisteria blue.  Barbara / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Snail Vine Plant Care

The fast-growing snail vine plant can be grown as an annual or perennial and, if cared for properly, will provide lovely fragrant flowers and abundant leaves for up to eight weeks during the summer. The plant requires warm, humid temperatures and full or partial sun. It can tolerate a range of soil but requires regular watering. You should prune your snail vine plant throughout its life.

Snail vine plants can be propagated through cuttings or seeds and should be overwintered indoors. It is highly pest and disease-resistant but can develop yellow or brown leaves if undernourished or overexposed to sunlight.


Snail vine plants grow well in full or partial sun. However, full sun in a warm growing zone might dehydrate, so pay attention to potential wilting or drying. If you're perennializing your snail vine, choose a spot that gets between three and four hours of direct sun, preferably in the morning. Dappled shade is a good option too.


Snail vine plants tolerate somewhat rich, loamy, well-drained soil. Slightly acidic soil is best.


The snail vine plant grows best with regular irrigation. Water deeply when the top two inches of the soil have dried out. Misting your snail vine is beneficial to keeping blossoms healthy.

Temperature and Humidity

Snail vine plants prefer a humid, tropical environment and will die in cold winter weather. It requires a minimum temperature of 59°F.


To promote healthy growth, you can add compost and peat moss to the soil of a snail vine plant.


If growing as a perennial, the snail vine plant benefits from regular pruning to eliminate dead foliage and scraggly vines. You can trim your snail vine all season to help control vigorous growth. Trim back to the new wood in the spring, keeping a few strong vines viable until it starts producing new growth.

Propagating Snail Vine Plants

Snail vine plants grow well from cuttings in late summer. Propagating helps create genetic uniformity in your planting. Here's how to propagate snail vine plants from cuttings:

  1. Fill a pot with half peat moss and half perlite and moisten the soil.
  2. Cut a 4-6 inch long stem with ample leaves.
  3. With shears, remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.
  4. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone talc.
  5. Insert the cutting into the pot and press the soil mixture around the cutting's base before moistening again.
  6. Locate the pot on a north or south-facing windowsill and cover it with clear plastic.
  7. After three to four weeks, check for roots and move the pot outdoors.
  8. Plant in a lightly shaded area until fall and transplant to a sunny spot.

How to Grow Snail Vine Plants From Seed

While you can propagate snail vine plants from cuttings, planting from seeds tends to be more successful. Here's how:

  1. Fill a pot with 3 inches of 4 parts potting soil and 1 part perlite and moisten.
  2. Insert the seed and cover it with soil.
  3. Keep the pot indoors for six weeks during germination.
  4. Locate the pot over a warming mat and cover lightly with clear plastic.
  5. Water the top inch of the soil when you feel it becoming dry.
  6. Once germinated, move the pot to a location that receives four to six hours of bright sun daily.
  7. After frost, plant the seedlings outdoors in full or partial sun six inches apart in fast-draining soil.


The snail vine plant cannot survive outdoors in cold weather and should be overwintered indoors. Place the plant in a warm, indoor location near a sunny window that receives sun daily.

Common Pests & Diseases

Snail vine plants are generally resistant to pests but can attract aphids. However, they are pollinated by ants. Interfering with this process will keep the plant from producing seeds. Snail vine plants can develop root rot but are considered disease-resistant. 

How to Get Snail Vine Plants to Bloom

Snail vine blossoms begin as creamy snail shell-shaped white buds and then unfurl to bright colors, including lavender, pink, coral, and purple. The flowers are fragrant, producing a scent similar to hyacinth and wisteria. Bloom appears rapidly between summer and fall, and deadheading throughout promotes healthy flowers and vigorous growth.

Common Problems With Snail Vine Plants

The snail vine plant is considered very low maintenance. Still, it can develop discolored leaves.

Yellowing Leaves

If you notice yellow leaves on your snail vine plant, it probably suffers from dehydration or lack of nutrients. Lacking nutrients may include magnesium, potassium, or sulfur. Adjust your watering regimen or consider lightly applying nutrient-rich fertilizer to your plant and watch for improvement. 

Browning Leaves

Browning leaves on a snail vine plant can indicate overexposure to the sun. Consider relocating your plant to an area that receives more shade. Sunburn can kill your plant if unaddressed.

  • What are the landscaping uses of a snail vine plant?

    The snail vine plant is popularly used as a fence or outdoor wall covering.

  • Is the snail vine plant invasive?

    Despite its rapid and sometimes difficult to control growth, the snail vine plant is not invasive.

  • Where do snail vine plants get their name?

    Snail vine plants get their name from their flowers' resemblance to snail shells.