Courtesy UConn Plant Database
This Asian native vine is fast-growing (up to 20 feet per year) and produces very fragrant, dark-purple, white or red flowers each spring. Itâ€™s becoming a popular garden plant due to its ability to cover a large trellis in a single season.
â€śThe akebia vine is an especially rampant grower,â€ť says Katy Fraser, a horticulturist with Raintree Nursery in Washington Fraser. â€śAnd it can root wherever it touches the ground.â€ť
Northern gardeners will find that it dies back to the ground each winter, but for Southerners, itâ€™s fully evergreen. Hardy fromÂ zones 4 through 10 withÂ soil pH requirements of 5.0 to 6.5, akebias produce funky-looking fruit with bluish skin and clear, jelly-like pulp speckled with small seeds. It has a very sweet, tropical flavor and requires two or more varieties for proper pollination.
There is an akebia vine growing up the roof at Frank Lloyd Wrightâ€™s Fallingwater, and though Wright didnâ€™t put it there himself, it serves as a fine example of both â€śform and function.â€ť
About the Author: Horticulturist Jessica Walliser dreams of growing Eastern Prince, a fruit-bearing magnolia vine, in her zone-6 garden. She is co-host of KDKA radioâ€™s The Organic Gardeners in Pittsburgh and author of several gardening books, including Grow Organic (St. Lynnâ€™s Press, 2007) and Good Bug Bad Bug (St. Lynnâ€™s Press, 2008).