Chocolate Vine, Fiveleaf Akebia (Akebia quinata)
Quick facts and care essentials
• Evergreen, semievergreen, or deciduous
• Zones 3-24, 29-41
• Full sun or partial shade
• Regular watering
• Climbs by: twining
Gardeners choose chocolate vine for the lush yet delicate look it brings to the landscape. Foliage is fine textured, with each leaf consisting of five small leaflets radiating from the stem tip. The small, purplish spring flowers are a bonus (some say they smell like chocolate). The vine ascends rapidly to 15 to 30 feet, providing shade and hiding less-than-lovely structures from view. It can also provide a tracery of growth on walls or columns; to achieve this effect, remove all but 2 or 3 stems as the vine grows.
Chocolate vine grows in ordinary garden soil, but it must have good drainage. It thrives in sun or partial shade. Be sure to provide a sturdy support for its many twining stems. It can be pruned severely; do the job just before plants break dormancy in spring, cutting stems back to five to nine growth buds from ground level and thinning out tangling stems. During the growing season, cut back wayward stems as needed.
This plant is evergreen to semievergreen in the milder parts of its range; where winters are colder, all leaves drop in fall.