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Plant of the month: crimson glory vine

Vitis coignetiae, also known as the crimson glory vine, is a particularly showy member of the grape family
 

Vitis coignetiaeOriginating from Korea and Japan, crimson glory vine is a vigorous, woody, deciduous climber with large, three-lobed, heart-shaped leaves up to 30cm (11in) across.

Seasonal changes

For most of the year it has rough-textured, dark-green leaves which are deeply veined above and brown-felted beneath. 

From late September onwards the leaves and leaf petioles (the stalk that joins the leaf to the stem) transform; turning vivid scarlet and crimson. 

Insignificant, green flowers appear in June and July. From late summer onwards they form into small, spherical, unpalatable blue-black grapes.

A vigorous climber

Like all the other members of the grape family, as a climber, this plant requires support. It uses tendrils or modified stems, leaves or petioles, with a threadlike shape, to twine around suitable hosts for support. Unlike other climbers Vitis coignetiae is incredibly vigorous and and will happily take over large mature trees. 

Depending on the height of its supporting tree a mature specimen can reach 20m (65ft).

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On display at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

The most impressive specimen at RHS Garden Harlow Carr can be seen growing up a large oak tree where the Streamside and the Peat Terrace begin. It is not unusual for garden visitors to mistake this vine for a large, red-leaved tree.

To perform its best this vine requires deep, well-drained, fertile soil, thriving in sun or partial shade.

Planting advice

When planting, it will need to be trained onto the lower branches of your tree; this can be achieved through use of netting or bamboo canes. Alternatively, it could be trained over a pergola or wire support along a wall.

If you lack height in your garden, consider using Vitis coignetiae as a groundcover plant, spacing each 3.5m (11ft) apart.

Keep the young plant well watered in its first year, to overcome the dry conditions at the base of your tree. It doesn't need special treatment but can initially be slow to establish, taking one to two years to put on new growth.

Maintenance

If, as a mature plant, it becomes troublesome, it can simply be cut back hard or to a framework. If required, young extension growth can be cut back in mid-summer whereas older growth can be cut back in mid-winter, when the vine is dormant, to prevent excessive bleeding. 

This plant can be propagated by layering in early autumn; simply pegging down a young shoot to the ground until it has made roots. 

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