Russian vine is an exceptionally fast and large-growing climbing plant that is also, and very aptly, known as 'mile-a-minute'. The botanical name of Russian vine is Fallopia baldschuanica. Twining woody stems are clothed in dark green heart-shaped leaves, which are deciduous, so the network of branches and stems is revealed in winter and has no great ornamental value. In summer, masses of white or pinky-white flowers are produced – these are tiny and borne in large plume-like panicles, giving rise to another of Russian vine’s common names, 'fleece flower'. Flowers are attractive to bees and other pollinators. They're followed by small pink fruits. Although Russian vine is easy and quick to grow, grow it with care as vigorous growth can be a problem to manage.
Is Russian vine invasive?
Russian vine is extremely vigorous and often becomes an invasive nuisance, so plant with caution and avoid planting near a shared boundary. Do consider the ultimate size and speed of growth of Russian vine before planting, as it can easily reach a height of around 10 metres and a spread of 5-8 metres in just a few years, double that or more on mature plants. Russian vine is not the same as the highly invasive plant Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica).
How to grow Russian vine
Russian vine is tough, hardy, and easy to grow in most aspects and any reasonable soil. Ideally plant in autumn or early spring, training growth onto strong supports. Prune in late winter or early spring as required. Propagate Russian vine by seed or cuttings.
Where to grow Russian vine
Grow Russian vine in sun or part shade, with a sturdy and very durable support, such as a wall. Avoid planting Russian vine on timber supports, trellis, or fences, that will eventually rot. Beware of siting Russian vine where it would grow over a roof, as the stems force their way through any gaps and eventually cause damage. Any reasonable soil is fine for Russian vine, except waterlogged ground. On rich, fertile soil, growth will be even faster, and the plant will produce more leaves at the expense of flowers.
How to care for Russian vine
After planting, keep Russian vine watered during dry spells for the first growing season and train or tie in the fast-growing stems every week or so to ensure the initial framework of stems is in the right place. Once established, Russian vine rarely needs attention apart from pruning to keep it within bounds.
How to prune Russian vine
Prune in late winter or early spring, cutting back as required to keep plants within the available space.
How to propagate Russian vine
Propagate Russian vine by half-ripe cuttings taken in mid to late summer from the current year’s growth that is just starting to turn woody. Or take hardwood cuttings of older woody shoots, in autumn.
Pests and diseases
Russian vine is not susceptible to any diseases. The only pest likely to occur is leaf miner, although this is rarely a problem. While the usual course of action with this pest is to pick off affected leaves by hand, this is not practicable on a large plant.
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Advice on buying Russian vine
- Make sure you have sufficient space to grow this enormous vine before buying
- Russian vine is widely available from nurseries, garden centres, and online suppliers
- Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before planting