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Sprawling Wirevine Muehlenbeckia

Description

Muehlenbeckia is a genus of plants, in the Pologonaceae (knotweed) family.  They are related to buckwheat and are native to Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and islands in the Indian Ocean as well as a few that are native to Central and South America. However, they have been introduced to gardens all over the world. Unfortunately, some of the species a very weedy and have become a problem in their new homes.

All of the species are characterized by thin stems leading to the myriad of common names referring to climbing, wire, creeping, matted and so on. Some are prostrate and make tangled mats as much as three feet across. Some twine around nearby plants and can reach as high as 30+ feet off the ground. These climbers can become very heavy and cause damage to the supporting tree or structure.

All of the plants have smallish, green leaves. Some are semi-evergreen while others are deciduous. All bear flowers that range in color from white to yellow to green and all the shades in between. Some of the flowers are nearly invisible while others are quite eye catching. Sometimes there is an attractive fruit.

The smallest of them, with their thin stems, make good rock garden plants or they grow well in containers either outdoor on a patio or indoors as a houseplant. Their trailing habit makes them especially attractive dangling down from a hanging basket. The taller ones could make an interesting central planting in a bed.

Many of the species originate in coastal regions and can withstand salt and spray. Some come from mountain areas and can be hardy as far north as the North Western states. A few can survive near freezing temperatures and many can survive to Zone 11.

This appears to be a group of plants with something for everyone. But – remember that a number of them are invasive. Check carefully before you buy. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Some species of this genus can be very weedy and aggressive.  Fungal problems can occur in poorly drained or wet soils.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Sun and Shade Demo Garden, Buncombe County
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Muehlenbeckia axillaris
    also known as Muehlenbeckia 'Nana'
  • Muehlenbeckia complexa
  • Muehlenbeckia platyclados
    Ribbon Bush, Tapeworm Plant
Muehlenbeckia axillaris, Muehlenbeckia complexa, Muehlenbeckia platyclados
Tags:
#houseplant#weedy#interiorscape#high maintenance#hanging baskets#fast growing#salt spray tolerant#aggressive#vines#glossy leaves#rock gardens#cold tolerant#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden#container plants
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Muehlenbeckia axillaris
    also known as Muehlenbeckia 'Nana'
  • Muehlenbeckia complexa
  • Muehlenbeckia platyclados
    Ribbon Bush, Tapeworm Plant
Muehlenbeckia axillaris, Muehlenbeckia complexa, Muehlenbeckia platyclados
Tags:
#houseplant#weedy#interiorscape#high maintenance#hanging baskets#fast growing#salt spray tolerant#aggressive#vines#glossy leaves#rock gardens#cold tolerant#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden#container plants
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Muehlenbeckia
    Family:
    Polygonaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Some of the species of this genus native to South America have been used by the indigenous peoples as medicines.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    West N America, S America, C America, Australasia, Indian Ocean
    Distribution:
    These plants are now found in almost every area of the world.
    Climbing Method:
    Scrambler
    Twining
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 2 in. - 33 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Vine
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Creeping
    Prostrate
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Description:
    Translucent various colors berries
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Insignificant
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers on these plants range from nearly invisible to eye catching. They appear at the ends of the stems singly, in ones and twos and sometimes in a raceme. Individually they are small and simple in shape. It is when they appear in a raceme or a cluster that you notice them. The color ranges from white, through yellow to green and every combination of those three colors that you can imagine. Some species are dioecious, like holly, so you would have to plant both sexes to get fruit.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Orbicular
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Sinuate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves on these plants are usually deciduous but some are semi-evergreen. The shapes vary from round to lanceolate with some species having entire margins and some wavy ones. They are usually green in color.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Black
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Description:
    Thin wiry black stems that are very tough.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Hanging Baskets
    Houseplants
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Screen/Privacy
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Salt
    Problems:
    Weedy