fill me in on bittersweet

flora43September 14, 2008

Does anyone grow bittersweet? I've seen people sell it at roadside stands, but never anywhere else. Maybe I don't know where to look :) Does anyone grow this in their garden? To be honest I don't even know if it is an annual or perennial. I am interested in growing it if possible. It is so pretty for fall accents.

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It is pretty, it is a woody perennial vine, it can also be invasive. I have seen it for sale, mostly at smaller mom and pop type nurseries.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 8:21PM
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peggy_hosta(z4 neSD)

I have a question, too. I saw some b.sweet while walking in the woods this winter, I orange-flagged it so I could find it this spring. I dug it up this spring and it never sprouted. Is there a trick to digging up wild b.sweet?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 10:08AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I think Jung has it mail-order. I've occasionally seen it at nurseries. It's the oriental variety that is invasive. You want ot look for the american variety, I can't remember the botanical name right now. Sorry I don't know about transplanting it from the wild. You need two, a male and a female for it to fruit. It's a fast growing, woody vine, I prune quite heavily in spring to keep it on the arbor, where I want it. It does seem to take several years to begin fruiting.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 8:09PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

I have tried 5 different plants from 2 different suppliers now, for almost 5 years now- all up one trellis. I have never had fruit.
I have VERY thick stalks- lotsa green leaves- of 2 different shapes I might add- although all plants were to be Native US plants....
I also told the plant very early this spring to show me some orange in the fall or else....
Finally, this year I did see some flowers in the spring but I see no chance of fall fruit- I may just prune it back severely and see if there is a change- more flowers in spring- otherwise I would rather see something else where the green monster vine has been taking over.
It does get full sun- and it may be a bit dry where it is planted- but it looks like a very healthy vine....
Hope you have better luck!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 7:28AM
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I would run as far away as I can from this plant,I have it with fruits,very pretty.but I also have it coming up all over my perennial flower garden,so unless you have it somewhere where that would be ok ,I would say NOOOOOO!!!!!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 4:10PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

Hey there Lone!
Is that the vine growing up your antenna tower?? Mighty impressive!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 6:06PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Mine took at least 5 years to begin fruiting, but in the 17 years I've had it I've never had reseed or sucker into other areas.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 10:59PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

OK- 5 years huh?
Hmmm- I guess I can wait it out another year..
But- it is going to get a serious hair cut!!
Thanks HostaHolic2 for chiming in!


    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 7:05AM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

Does this need full sun? Or could I plant it in a shady woody area?

Here's the deal, behind my house we have a stand of trees. Mostly old old cottonwoods, that have died and are in the process of loosing limbs, and bark. There are some of the weedy elms, and of course my nemesis European Buckthorn. Any way, closer to the yard I have cleared it out, and have a woodland shade garden planted. But the background is this mess, I was wondering if I could plant some of the bittersweet back there, let it climb and ramble to it's hearts content, and have something interesting to look at?
Oh yes, I work from home, and this is the view out my office window, so it is something I see everyday.

Jenny P

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 5:56PM
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flora, one at church has been there for 15+ years. Various grounds keepers have tried to get rid of it, others prune it. It has never produced. I know it needs a male and female to do so. The neighbors vine trunk is at least an inch, has been there for at least 15 years and has its first cluster of berries this fall--ONE small cluster.
julie, Bittersweet is dioecious--male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. Both must be present, and faily near each other, for pollination. Females produce the berries. Rarely, male plants will have a few, but not many. Occasionally, a plant will be hermaphroditic or partly dioecious--flowers of both sexes are produced on the one plant. The berry set is never as heavy, or concentrated, as on a female plant.
Jenny, That's how they grow in the wild. I have hunted them and seen their beautiful eye-catching yellow leaves climbing high on deciduous trees in rather open wooded areas, so they do get some sunlight. Your dead trees sound ideal to me. Be sure to plant enough to have at leaset one of each sex. Have fun with them, they are worth the effort if you are patient. BTW: Try to plant them in a hidden spot, I have seen vines ripped to pieces by people who either don't care, or don't appreciate the effort and time it takes to grow them. People suspected various plants , etc. were being stolen for resale (right off our porches) about that time.
gramma jan

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 1:03PM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

Thanks Gramma
It sounds like something I might try to work on next year. As for being hidden, well I live out in the middle of no where, and am the only one who will see them.

Jenny P

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 3:13PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Celastrus scandens is the American native. Grow it in poor soil for more precocious and abundant flowering (both sexes). Will be a monster in good soil, and the lush growth will slow the maturation of stems and flower production.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 9:36PM
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You can buy it through Musser Forests- on line or by mail.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:33AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Autumn Revolution is a new variety which is said to be self-fruitful. It is supposed to have more and larger berries. From Bailey Nurseries.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:33PM
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I hope I can find the "Autumn Revolution". I've tried to grow Bittersweet masny times without success. You do need both male and female and nurseries have sold me those, but they don't seem to survive. Years ago you could find Bittersweet around just about any lake in Northern Minnesota. But with all the lake developement it has been killed out. Seems it does like a lakeshore site with fairly wet soil..and fairly good sun exposure.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 9:14PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I've seen it in the Jung catalog and I think on The Garden Crossings website. Because it's self fruitful you only need one. Most nurseries don't/can't guarantee that you're getting both a male and a female plant or at least that's been my understanding. Thus the appeal of Autumn Revolution.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 11:29PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

To say that the oriental bittersweet is "invasive" is an understatement. That vine is a huge problem in my area and it has become the "kudzu" of the coastal northeast. It covers and kills large trees in my area, growing best where forest meets field. There are attempts at eradication but the only method is to kill everything and then start over with native plants. Perhaps the vine is much less aggressive in your colder zones? But I would not take the risk. I would not under any circumstances purchase and plant the non-native variety.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 9:42AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Autumn Revolution is celastrus scandens, American Bittersweet. I would never suggest that anyone plant oriental bittersweet.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 3:30PM
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It's all here...ID'ing American vs. Chinese varieties (though some say they can inter-pollinate), cultural requirements, plant sex, propagation, and more!

Here is a link that might be useful: AMERICAN BITTERSWEET

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 9:05PM
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I you are interested, AUTUMN REVOLUTION is available from Jung's. It is on their front cover.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 3:55PM
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The Friends School Plant Sale will have 'Hercules' and 'Diana' bittersweet for sale Mother's Day weekend at the Grandstand at the State Fairgrounds.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 3:58PM
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