Some people are not familiar with the landscaping industry being a science, art, and business. Every plant placed in one’s landscape design has its purpose that is carefully thought out and planned. Proper plant selection is one of the crucial steps in making the landscape work even in the long run.
The Chocolate Vine or Akebia quinata is one of the plants that can serve both its landscape use and adds to the appearance of the place. The plant gives off texture and color for the design with its five-leaved crawling structure with flowers that shows a beautiful violet pigment with a sweet aroma.
However, when not wanted, it can be a serious weed problem as it grows vastly to the point that chemical control will be needed.
Akebia quinata, from the family Lardixabalaceae, is a woody deciduous plant commonly known as Chocolate Vine but also goes by the names Five-Leaf Akebia, Akebia, Chocolate Vine, and Raisin Vine.
It was originally from the eastern parts of Asia, such as Central China, Japan, and Korea. The vine was imported mainly because of its unique appearance that seems to have a positive effect on aesthetics. In the United States, it is most suitable to grow in zones 4-8.
Chocolate vine is composed of five leaves in a muted blue-green shade connected by a slender stem. The stem will be green in color during the plant’s young age but will eventually turn brown as it grows older. It also develops a useful plant part called tendrils, which are modified stems that are used mostly for anchorage.
The name “Chocolate Vine” was coined due to its flowers, wherein they are chocolate-purple and give off a sweet smell like vanilla and chocolate and they bloom in bundles. As it matures, long violet flat pods around 8-9 cm long are produced with black seeds inside.
How to Grow and Care for Akebia quinata
Just like any other plant, the this purple flowering vine needs basic requirements such as water, sunlight, nutrition, and relative humidity to optimize its growth.
Due to its crawling and climbing nature, this vine can easily survive on its own everywhere. It does not require much attention and maintenance and grows vastly. As a versatile vine, it can grow in exposure to full sunlight, partial and full shade. However, partial shade is where its growth can be optimized.
Akebia grows best when planted in soil that is moist but has good drainage under partial shade. Besides, it developed a resistance to a wide range of conditions such as drought and frost.
In terms of fertilizer, it does not need much as long as there is enough organic matter. Organic matter can take the form of manure, dead plant parts, and other debris in the garden.
Akebia can grow in most places even under acidic or alkaline soil conditions. In terms of soil type, all types of soil can be used to grow it as long as there is ample drainage.
In reproducing the Chocolate Vine, the black seeds from the flat pods can be used primarily. It is possible to spread it manually or through natural agents such as wind, water, and birds. Other propagation methods include cuttings of softwood as plant material.
Also, layering is one of the simplest methods to propagate Akebia. It can be done by bending down soft stems to the ground level and making a small opening. Applying a rooting hormone, such as Auxin (commonly known as IAA or IBA), to the small opening can hasten the development of roots. Once the stem has been rooted, it is ready to be separated from the mother plant.
In comparison to cuttings, layering is more beneficial since it allows the stem to develop the roots while attached to the mother plant. The food and water supply of the plant is continuous making it less stressful for the plant to grow and focus on rooting.
Since the Chocolate Vine has a climbing and twining morphological feature, it is best used as a twining vine or ground cover in the landscape. It can be incorporated in wall-side borders, walls, fences, pergolas, trellises, and arbors to soften the features of the said structures.
Moreover, the versatility and resistance of Akebia make it a good choice for ground cover. It can withstand foot traffic if placed near a pathway and it spreads easily, which ensures that the ground will be covered fully and bald patches are not a problem.
Despite the benefits of using Chocolate Vine in the landscape, just like any fast-growing crop, it can be harmful when it starts growing in places where it is undesired. Its strong and twining stem and tendrils can make it strong enough to kill a shrub once it attaches to it. As it grows bigger, its leaves can hinder the penetration of sunlight for the underlying vegetation.
For landscape purposes, scheduled pruning is a must to avoid the vine from dominating the whole landscape. It can be pruned until it reaches the ground to rejuvenate especially after flowering.
Similar to some of the fastest growing vines, when it comes to eradicating the chocolate vine, manual weeding is advised and is done by pulling out the plant. However, this method is tedious and labor-intensive as it needs to be done frequently.
On the other hand, the use of herbicides such as glyphosate can kill the vine faster. Remember to read, understand, and follow the instructions on the chemicals, that are to be applied, to avoid any harmful effects.
*image by olg44391.yandex.ru/depositphotos