OhWhatAWednesday – American Bittersweet

Here’s a hardy vine for you. It is December 30th, and American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) looks this good in our Chicagoland zone 5. It has probably taken 5 years for it to twine around the deck posts and have berries. Looks to me like it was worth the wait. Now that it has decided to branch out (pun intended), I find it does need to be cut back regularly. That is the good news and the bad news. Yes, it needs to be done every few weeks in the summer. The good news is that I can decide which branches to keep and which ones not to, so that it decoratively dresses the posts.

The golden husks are evident in early fall, as is yellow foliage. The red berries literally pop out in early December. Bittersweet would make a great wreath, but mine look too good right where they are. We can see them out the back door without me doing the extra work. Perhaps planting one in a more obscure location would be a good idea if you’d like to make the wreath. Be careful though, it does not play nicely with others. American Bittersweet can wrap around other plants (even shrubs and trees) and strangle them. Where was this vine when I needed to get rid of that ever-so-persistent trumpet vine? Another warning – you do NOT want Oriental bittersweet. That one is horrendously invasive, thorny, an all around baaaad plant.

Ours gets sun all morning and part of the afternoon. It will grow with less, but don’t expect much in the way of berries. I hardly ever water it. I certainly do enjoy it, especially this time of year with a clear line of site from inside the house.

Stop back next week to see what else is looking good in my garden even in winter!

This is an installment in the OhWhatAWednesday series, where I dare to take on the task of finding something in my garden that looks good even during a Chicago winter.

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