This twining climber is native to eastern Asia and is grown for both its variegated leaves and its small fruits. The leaves emerge with a tint of purple and then turn dark green with bright pink and white splotches on the upper half. They are heart-shaped and about five inches long when mature. Clusters of three small greenish- white flowers are produced in late spring to early summer. In fall, edible greenish-yellow smooth-skinned fruits about once inch long are produced. Male and female flowers grow on different plants so if fruit is desired at least one male must be present for every three of four female plants. Male plants, however, produce the best foliage color. An excellent choice for growing on a trellis, wall, or fence.
Type: Deciduous climber
Outstanding Feature: Leaf coloring
Form: Climbing, sprawling
Growth Rate: Rapid-moderate
Bloom: Clusters of three, white, fragrant flowers appear in early summer; male and female flowers are borne on different plants.
Light: Full sun; less fruit but better leaf color in part shade.
Soil: Fertile, moist, well-drained
Hardiness: Zones 5-8
Care: Prune in winter if necessary to thin the number of climbing stems; apply four inches of mulch in spring to keep roots shaded and cool.
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Softwood cuttings in late summer (cuttings root easily)
Outstanding Selection:’Arctic Beauty’ (Hardy to zone 3; smaller leaves than species).