The name of the chocolate vine akebia is well known to all lovers of garden exotic plants. Along with the kobei, she claims to be the most coveted non-standard steeplejack. Being a rather capricious plant, akebia feels much better not in gardens, but in a pot culture. The liana does not lose its unique color of large flowers and the ability to release spectacular lashes even in room form. And although not everyone can grow akebia, for those flower growers who love interesting tasks, this oriental beauty can be a real discovery.
Акебия пятерная (Akebia quinata). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com monchval
Indoor career of garden creeper akebia
Akebia is not only one of the rarest indoor crops, but it is also a family that is not grown in the room. This vine belongs to the Lardizabalaceae – an amazing group of deciduous vines from the Far East.
In nature, akebias are found only in China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula. They are true endemics, representatives of the unique flora of East Asia. There are only six plant species in the genus Akebia. In room culture, only one variety is grown – five akebia (Akebia quinata). It is this plant that is actively used in gardening.
All over the world, akebias are better known as chocolate creepers or chocolate vines. Such a nickname the akebi did not get at all for their color, although their brown shades are often complemented by purple colors, and for their aroma – delicate, delicate and chocolate.
Akebia belong to the thermophilic semi-evergreen lianas. Smooth, purple, with a brown tint shoots in length can exceed 3 m, although in room culture the vine is limited to a maximum of 2 meters in length. Rapid growth is one of the undoubted advantages of akebia, which allows it to achieve high decorativeness in just one season.
The akebia foliage is very spectacular. Five-lobed leathery leaves create quirky laces and ornaments, they look amazingly elegant. The leaves sit on the shoots alternately and quite densely, the cuttings are long, and the lobes are obovate or teardrop-shaped with a perfectly round edge. The bright medium green color of the upper side of the shiny akebia leaves is combined with the lower light green matte side. Garden akebias are deciduous plants, and in the rooms these vines keep greenery.
The bloom of akebia deserves special praise. It not only begins atypically early for indoor garden vines – in April, with insufficient lighting – in May, continuing until August, and with good care it lasts almost without interruption. Akebia blooms very effectively. Fragrant and original, not so large, but very noticeable flowers of the plant shine against the background of the leaves with their unusual purple color.
The female flowers of akebia with a fancy triple perianth are collected in short brushes, surprising with the beauty of purple stamens and an unusual structure. Light pedicels accentuate the brownish-purple tones of the flowers. The male flowers are light pink and can be easily distinguished from the bright purple female flowers.
You can argue endlessly about whether the smell of akebia flowers resembles chocolate. Sweet, vanilla-spicy, with chocolate and sometimes coffee notes, the aroma of this beauty is one of the most exciting smells among all indoor plants.
After flowering, akebias can tie slightly cucumber-like, thick, bizarre fruits up to 8 cm long, which surprise with a waxy purple color. The waxy peel and juicy, fragrant, “raspberry” pulp are no less surprising than the structure of the berry and black seeds. In a room culture, fruiting is possible only with artificial pollination (akebias belong to monoecious plants) and at a decent age.
Conditions for growing indoor akebi
The only difficulty associated with creating comfortable conditions for the akebia is the need to provide a cool winter. But otherwise, this vine is quite unpretentious. Bright lighting, access to fresh air – that’s all it needs for abundant flowering and rapid growth. Akebia is not afraid of temperature extremes, cold-resistant, adapts well to living rooms.
Akebia is ranked among rare exotics and is often mistakenly advertised as a plant that can feel good only in a winter garden. In the rooms, this large liana grows no worse than on the terrace and in the garden. True, its size makes you carefully consider the choice of location and maintain a balance between the size of the room and the plant.
Due to its unusual and generous flowering and aroma, akebia is an excellent candidate for placement in dining rooms, dining areas, at bar counters, in the kitchen, in a recreation area – where its mouth-watering aromas are especially appropriate.
Lighting and placement
Akebia remains one of the most sun-loving exotic lianas. In the room for her, you need to select the most illuminated place in the house. For akebi, southern or partially southern window sills are preferable; in summer, you can put a vine near the western window. For this liana, a place is selected so that it is sanctified by the sun for at least a couple of hours a day. In the summer, the midday and daytime sun can harm foliage; during this period, diffused light is preferable.
Artificial supplementary lighting is not for this plant. The work of phyto lamps does not compensate for the lack of natural light, so you need to pay special attention to choosing a place for akebia.
Due to its size, the akebia is often considered a lone plant. In fact, when formed on a support, akebia fits perfectly into collections, it can even be grown with other vines on green walls or screens. Akebia is one of the best indoor vines for creating a shading or screen effect, including when landscaping a balcony in a vertical direction or separating the rest and work area from the rest of the room.
Temperature control and ventilation
Despite the status of a thermophilic exotic among indoor plants, akebia is one of the most cold-resistant. The plant tolerates temperature changes well and will withstand short-term cold snaps within the framework of non-negative indicators. Akebia should overwinter in a cool place – at a maximum of +12 degrees and optimal performance from +8 to +10 degrees.
Akebia are not afraid of drafts or temperature changes. Even indoor vines can be moved outdoors from late spring to early autumn or used on loggias, balconies and terraces.
Home care for akebia
This beautiful and unusual plant cannot be called difficult to care for. Akebia is relatively undemanding to watering and moisture. She needs attention and constant tying or direction. Without pruning or shaping measures, it quickly loses its decorative effect. But on the other hand, even a novice florist can grow this indoor liana.
Watering and air humidity
Despite its huge size and very fast growth, akebia does not require too active watering, it is afraid of waterlogging. Akebia does not preserve the status of a drought-resistant liana in a room culture; the drying out of the substrate significantly affects the attractiveness of the leaves.
Water the akebia sparingly, after the topsoil dries out. The moisture should be light but constant. In summer, the plant is watered once every 1-2 days. In winter, the soil is allowed to dry out almost completely between waterings.
Akebiya does not need high air humidity. But during the period of operation of heating systems and in summer, it is better to include regular spraying in the maintenance program. Without this procedure, in elevated temperatures, the plant may suffer from drying out of the tips of the leaves.
Top dressing and composition of fertilizers
Feeding for akebia is very important. The plant quickly depletes the soil and the supply of nutrients in the soil must be compensated. During the period of active growth of vines, top dressing is carried out with a frequency of at least 1 time in 2 weeks. If the plant develops too vigorously or there are signs of a lack of nutrients, in the summer the frequency of fertilizing is brought up to 1 time per week.
For a dormant period for akebia, it is advisable to completely abandon feeding, but only if there are no signs of leaf dropping due to an exhausted substrate. If the vine is bare, you can try to include fertilizing in the care program with a frequency of 1 time per month – to carry out a weak feeding with half the fertilizer doses.
For this liana, universal, complex organo-mineral fertilizers are more suitable, because the balance of the main microelements is important to preserve the beauty of the greenery of this plant.
Trimming and shaping akebias
Flexible and thin, vine shoots do not retain their shape. It is impossible to grow a plant without a garter. Therefore, the formation on the support is an obligatory item for growing a plant. Akebia itself is capable of wrapping itself around the supports, but in the rooms it has to be guided and fixed. It looks great on gratings and walls, curly supports, large columns or pillars.
Aquebia is annually pruned to stimulate the growth of young shoots and abundant branching. Usually, the plant is pruned after the active season, but this procedure can be carried out before transplanting (it is permissible to prune only before bud break). Pruning is carried out, leaving at least a third of the length of the shoots, shortening only the top or forming more compact bushes. Too long, elongated, bare shoots are best cut off completely.
Cardinal pruning is also the only way to rejuvenate the plant. It is advisable to pinch young shoots or trim the top so that the plant does not stretch too much and release new shoots.
Transplant and substrate
Aquebia transplant is carried out once every 2 years or annually (if the roots have completely filled the substrate). The plant develops very quickly, the root system is powerful, in order to maintain normal development due to depletion of the soil, more rare replanting is not recommended.
Acebia is transplanted at the end of the dormant period, at the usual time – in February or March. The volume of the container is increased by one standard size. Akebi containers should be spacious, with a depth greater than the diameter. The key to this vine is the presence of powerful drainage holes.
For akebia, you need to carefully select the soil. Rapid plant growth requires an extremely nutritious soil mixture. But the resistance to sealing, structure, and air permeability are of no less importance. For akebia, you can use special purchased substrates for tubs, add loosening additives to the universal substrate, or mix it yourself. A mixture in equal parts of sand, peat and leafy soil is perfect for this liana. The reaction of the substrate should remain in the range of slightly acidic or neutral values.
Before planting plants in pots, be sure to fix the supports. They are installed even for young akebias, since the fast-growing liana is strikingly stretched out already in the first months after planting. It must be constantly tied to the base and guided. For akebia, a high and coarse drainage is needed.
Diseases, pests and problems in the cultivation of akebia
The status of indoor exotic does not prevent akebias from showing amazing stability. This garden plant, moving into rooms, demonstrates excellent resistance to deviations from conditions, and to one-time deviations from care, and to any diseases.
Akebia are also resistant to pests, but they can suffer if the entire household collection is infected by whiteflies, aphids, spider mites and scale insects. The plant is considered a natural insecticide, and without emergency situations, it promotes the health of any collection of plants (the positive effect of akebi is especially strong in greenhouses).
Reproduction of akebi
It is customary to propagate akebia only vegetatively. Artificial pollination allows the plant to set seeds, but the duration of growing and the rather high sensitivity of shoots, in comparison with the ease of rooting of shoots, is most often forced to choose vegetative methods.
Seeds are sown in light soil, not deepening too much, after stratification in the cold for 2–3 weeks. High air humidity, glass or film covering should be combined with low temperatures: akebia prefers stable + 14… + 16 degrees. Plant shoots can be expected up to three months. The fresher the seed, the higher the chance of success.
Akebia is the easiest way to graft. For rooting, cut small pieces of semi-lignified shoots. The best time for grafting akebias is rightly considered the middle and end of spring. In April-May, after treatment with growth stimulants, the cuttings are buried a few centimeters in any light sandy soil mixture and placed in greenhouses. With a stable humidity, rooting occurs quickly enough.
It is even easier to get powerful young plants by rooting cuttings. Choosing young, partially lignified shoots, they are placed in shallow grooves in a separate container, fixed with staples, spud and abundantly watered the rooting site. After signs of rooting appear, the plants are cut off from the mother bush and further grown as an independent vine.
Dear readers! If akebia is already growing in your home, share your experience of growing it in the comments. There you can also ask questions related to growing akebia at home.