I grow a lot of vines on our property, primarily because my garden is an urban one and thus fairly small, and I can get more bang for my gardening buck if I grow plants up as well as out into the beds.
Today I want to share with you a neat vine which, in my garden, took several years to get established, but once it did it rewarded my wait with loads of the most glorious fruits in my favorite shades of purple and turquoise. It is one of the very few plants that I have found with true turquoise coloration in it, and it produces all this wonderful color in the autumn. Let me introduce you to the Porcelain Berry Vine:
The Latin botanical name for the vine is Ampelopsis brevipedunculata, and is part of the Vitaceae plant family, which includes grapes. It grows in garden zones 5-8, and is native to the Orient. It attaches itself to other plants and fences via tendrils, so I don’t have to tie it up.
Although it grows up to 10 feet tall very rapidly in warmer climates than my garden zone 8, it has taken its sweetie-old time getting established and growing for me, so this may be due to the small-size plant I started with, our weather conditions, and the soil I’ve got here. Mine grows in an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, and it seems happy in this location. The Horticulture Department at Ohio State University says that it can become rampant and out of control if it is grown in moist conditions in full sun, and it is advised that you should prune it back hard in early spring to keep it under control. So far, I haven’t had to prune mine at all because it’s grown so slowly, and while the soil is plenty moist, it is growing in a part-shade aspect, so this may be keeping it a little smaller than average. If you prune this in late spring to autumn, you will cut off the next year’s fruit, so prune it in winter or early spring while the plant is dormant and before you see new growth emerging for best results, because it flowers and fruits on the current season’s growth.
Mine has never been bothered by pests, but apparently Japanese Beetles can damage the leaves, but just gives it cosmetic damage. The leaves and flowers of this plant are not anything to write home about, but the beautiful autumn fruit is the reason why this plant is grown. I have also seen it grown successfully in a large container as well, growing up an arbor.
The fruit is ornamental and non-edible. If you have small children or inquisitive pets, this may be too tempting a vine to have in your garden. Birds and squirrels do enjoy the fruit, however.
I purchased this as a one-gallon sized plant from www.WorldPlants.com, who were selling the plants at the September 2005 Hardy Plant Society of Oregon sale, and it cost me $4–well spent, in my opinion. It was planted near my ‘Zephrine Drouhin’ thornless climbing pink rose, a ‘Princess Diana’ pink clematis, and a yellow ‘Golden Showers’ climbing hybrid tea rose in a bed on the west side of our house that is backed by a fence. We put a raised bed in here, because it was a sloped site, and thus we could monkey around with the height of the rocks we used for the bed walls so that the top of the bed would be flat. The wall on one end of the bed is shorter than the other end to accommodate the slope of the land. This bed was brand new in 2005, and I remember we emptied the entire compost pile into the bed, plus some dirt, and I planted it out.
Fast forward to 2012. The vine now has a 2-inch thick smooth stem with no thorns and grows up through the roses. It covers the 6-foot tall fence.
Because the vine does get large at maturity, you will want to be a little selective in choosing companion plants to grow with Porcelain Berry Vine. I find that the roses and clematis can hold their own with this vine. If the roses are kept deadheaded and fertilized, they are often blooming off and on while the berries are at their peak of color. ‘Princess Diana’ clematis is mostly done by this time, but surprises me with a few blooms now and then in the fall as well.
Any of the autumn-blooming perennials and annuals that you like could be grown in front of the plant to fill in. These can include:
- sunflowers–(these and all above are annuals)
- aster (perennial)
- Mexican mock orange ‘Sundance’ (evergreen chartreuse shrub)
- agapanthus (blue-flowered rhizome–grows like a perennial in my garden zone 8 and warmer climates)
The bed where my vine is growing is one that I need to rework, and hope to do so either this fall at some point, over the winter or early next spring. The climbing roses, clematis and Porcelain Berry Vine will stay, and I will rearrange and add to the plants in the front of these great climbing plants!
This is a good excuse to hit some plant sales either this fall or next spring!
Do you grow Porcelain Berry Vine? What are you enjoying in your garden now? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments, so stop by for a visit!
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Till next time,
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