Chocolate Vine Plant Information
Akebia quinata (also known as chocolate vine) is a member of the mint family. It grows naturally in warm climates, but it prefers cool areas with moist soil and well drained soil.
A good growing environment includes full sun, well drained soil and a temperature range between 55°F and 70°F. They prefer partial shade or indirect sunlight when possible.
The leaves are opposite, oblong-shaped, dark green, 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. They have three leaflets at the top and two at the bottom.
The flowers are white or pale pink, up to 5 mm across and borne on short stalks that resemble a cross between a grape vine and a cherry tomato stalk. There is one flower per plant which produces fruit once every year. Fruit is edible if properly prepared.
How To Grow Akebia Quinata?
Growing akebia quinata is easy, but it requires some care. You need to provide them with plenty of water during their growing season. They like moist soil and well drained soil. If they get too dry, they will die off quickly. When planting seeds, make sure that the seedlings have room to spread out so that they don’t crowd each other and block light for future growth.
These plants are heavy feeders, so make sure to give them fertilizer before planting. The best fertilizer is blood meal because it provides needed nitrogen.
Well rotted manure also provides the nutrients that these plants need.
Planting Akebia Quinata From Seed
The best time to plant akebia quinata from seed is late winter. You should plant them about 1 inch deep and keep them lightly moist until they start to sprout.
Make sure to plant them in well drained soil and give them plenty of room to grow.
If you want to start your akebia quinata plants inside first, you can do that, too. Start them inside in early spring about 8 to 10 weeks before you plan to transplant them outside.
Put the seeds 1/4 inch deep in moist soil and keep it moist until they sprout. Transplant the seedlings after their second set of leaves appears.
Akebia quinata is a slow growing plant and it produces flower the first year. It can also grow up to 16 feet tall.
Benefits Of Growing A Chocolate Vine Plant
The main reason why people plant akebia quinata is because of the fruit that it bears two years after planting from seed. The stems are very strong and can reach up to 16 feet high.
The leaves are simple and opposite. The flowers grow in clusters that are small, white and pink with five petals. Each flower turns into a berry that ripens from green to red. It is edible, but must be cooked before consumption or the seeds will cause nausea and diarrhea.
The plant is native to Korea and Japan.
There are several benefits of growing a chocolate vine:
1. Edible Fruit
The fruit of the akebia quinata is edible, but you must cook it before consumption. The seeds taste like nutmeg.
2. Beautiful Flowers
The flowers of the akebia quinata are small and grow in clusters. They are white and pink with five petals.
3. Easy to Grow
Akebia quinata is a hardy plant that is easy to grow. It needs very little attention and can survive in poor soil.
4. Good Shade Coverage
Akebia quinata is a large vine that provides good shade. It also has beautiful flowers.
Things You Need to Know Before You Plant
Before you plant your akebia quinata, you need to know where you are going to plant it. These plants need lots of room to grow and mature.
They are not plants that you can squeeze in somewhere. They need lots of space. You also need to make sure that you plant it in an area that it is going to be okay with the soil. It needs well drained soil.
How To Care For A Chocolate Vine Plant
The akebia quinata is very easy to care for. It thrives in most conditions, but it does not like salt and it doesn’t do well in wet areas.
It is also a heavy feeder, so you want to make sure you are feeding it lots of fertilizer. You can do this by fertilizing it before and after you plant it as well as sprinkling some around the base of the plant periodically. This will ensure that it grows strong and healthy.
Chocolate vine is best planted in early spring, but you can plant it at any time of the year if you take the proper steps for dormancy. This means that if you live in a colder climate and you plant it in the fall, then you need to keep the soil nice and moist throughout the winter.
This can be done by burying a bucket or container (with holes in the bottom for drainage) around the base of the plant and fill with water periodically as needed.
How To Get The Most Fruit
Akebia quinata is a heavy bloomer and can produce lots of fruit. The more flowers that are available to be pollinated, the more fruit it will produce.
So, if you plant your chocolate vine with another type of vine that blooms at the same time, then it will produce more fruit. Some good companion vines are:
4. Carolina jessamine
5. Trumpet vines
6. Honey suckle
Things to Know About the Plant
It is very important to know if your area has rabbits or deer before planting your akebia quinata. These are the main things that like to eat it.
If this is the case, then you need to make sure they can’t get to the plant, because it will kill it. If you live in an area that has neither of these things, then you don’t really need to worry about this.
Another thing to be aware of is the seeds of the akebia quinata are poisonous. So if you have small children or pets that like to eat things, then you definitely need to keep them away from it.
Pruning and Training of Chocolate Vine
Pruning and training your akebia quinata is very easy. When it starts to grow, you just need to make sure that it is growing where you want it to grow.
If this isn’t the case, then just train it by wrapping the stem around whatever you want it to climb. You can also put supports in the ground for it to climb on. Once it starts growing you can prune anytime you want.
Harvesting the Fruit
When you are ready to harvest the fruit, you need to bare in mind that if you pick it green, then it won’t be edible. It will still be good for making tea and for healing purposes though.
The best way to tell if it is ripe is the color. If it is a dark purple then it should be ready to be picked. You can pick it green as well if you want to wait until you are ready to use it.
Preserving the Fruit
If you have a lot of fruit that needs to be preserved, then there are a couple of different ways to do this. You can make a preserve with it, or you can dry it and keep it in a container.
To make the preserves, you need to mash up the berries and mix them with an equal part of sugar. Then you put this into a pot on the stove and bring it to a boil. After this is done, put it into sterile jars, seal, and let cool. It will then be ready to eat whenever you want.
If you want to dry the fruit, then just spread it out on some racks and let it dry for a few days. Then once it is dry, you can put it into sealed jars and keep in a cool dark place.
Uses for the Chocolate Vine
Apart from eating the fruit, there are other ways that you can use the chocolate vine. You can make a tea with the leaves and drink it.
It is also good for making herbal salves and ointments. The roots are great for treating skin issues such as eczema.
If you have too much fruit, you can even give some away to friends and neighbors. Everyone loves free chocolate!
There are several other common names that you will find this plant to go by. These include:
Poor man’s hops
Despite all of these names, it has no relationship to either hops or wisteria. It does look a bit like both of these plants though.
If you are looking for a unique and beautiful plant to grow, then the chocolate vine akebia quinata is perfect. Aside from its unique look and usefulness, it also has a nice chocolately fragrance.
Who wouldn’t want one of these lovely plants in their yard or garden?
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Sources & references used in this article:
Bioactive Phytochemicals Isolated from Akebia quinata Enhances Glucose-Stimulated Insulin Secretion by Inducing PDX-1 by D Lee, JS Lee, J Sezirahiga, HC Kwon, DS Jang… – Plants, 2020 – mdpi.com
Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds by E Weber – 2017 – books.google.com
Emerging invasive alien plants for the Mediterranean Basin by S Brunel, G Schrader, G Brundu, G Fried – EPPO bulletin, 2010 – Wiley Online Library
Cognitive aspects of foraging in Japanese monkeys by CR Menzel – Animal Behaviour, 1991 – Elsevier