Asian climbing plants, or vines, are used as landscape plants, for erosion control and as livestock and wildlife forage. While they are prolific and easy to grow, some Asian climbing plants have escaped cultivation and become invasive. On the other hand, some Asian climbing plants are noninvasive and make attractive garden plants, while others can be controlled with careful pruning.
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Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) is a woody vine that climbs on almost any structure. It grows to 25 feet or more and produces fragrant foot-long clusters of purple flowers in the spring. Although it is invasive, it can be controlled in the landscape by frequent pruning. Occasionally, purchased vines never bloom, so purchase Chinese wisteria in spring when you can see it blooming and plant it in a full-sun location.
Oriental bittersweet, or Oriental staff vine (Celastrus orbiculatus), is a fast-growing invasive vine that grows to 60 feet or more. It spreads by underground runners as well as seed. It has the ability to climb to the tops of trees and shrubs and shade out sunlight, which weakens and kills the native plants. The flowers of the Oriental bittersweet are small and yellow and followed by hundreds of small green berries. It is capable of growing anywhere in the United States where soil and moisture conditions are adequate.
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is an invasive evergreen woody vine that grows rapidly anywhere there is sufficient moisture and sunlight to support its growth. It was introduced into the U.S. in 1906 as an ornamental plant, and has naturalised throughout much of the country. The white flowers are very fragrant. The seeds as well as the leaves of the Japanese honeysuckle are attractive to wildlife.
Rangoon creeper, also called Burma creeper or Chinese honeysuckle (Quisqualis indica), is a vigorous but noninvasive perennial vine suitable for growing in USDA horticultural zones 9 through 11. The leaves are bright green and as long as 8 inches, giving the vine a tropical look. It produces fragrant pendulous red flower clusters during the summer. The Rangoon creeper grows best with supplemental moisture and some protection from the hottest afternoon sun.
Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is an aggressive perennial Asian vine capable of growing 12 inches a day, although it dies back to the stems in winter. The root system is a large bulblike structure that sends out numerous shoots in every direction. It is capable of growing over the tops of trees, cutting off daylight and eventually killing them. It was introduced into the U.S. for erosion control and cattle forage, but has since escaped cultivation. It grows prolifically throughout the Southeastern U.S. and as far north as Indiana.
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