Also known as the chocolate vine and the climbing cucumber, the akebie is becoming increasingly popular in local gardens. Because with its finger-shaped divided leaves, the small pink and purple flowers in May and the cucumber-like purple fruits in autumn, it is a beautiful ornamental plant all year round that enhances every garden. In addition, the climbing plant is also partially hardy in the local latitudes and therefore does not have to move to a winter quarters and can therefore also find a place in the garden bed. It owes its name “chocolate wine” primarily to the sweet scent of its flowers.


  • Flowers in pink (male) or violet (female) on one plant at the same time
  • Flowering time from April to May
  • give off a sweet scent
  • Leaves divided into five “fingers”.
  • climbing plant
  • grows up to twelve meters high
  • in autumn oblong, violet fruits reminiscent of cucumbers
  • are edible
  • conditionally hardy
  • originally native to Asia


The climbing cucumber prefers a sunny to semi-shady, wind-protected location where it needs climbing aids . Therefore, it is ideally planted on a house wall, in front of a pergola or on a fence or wall. Since the Akebie is conditionally hardy, it can also be planted directly in the garden bed, provided that it is protected against a wall or house wall. The ideal locations for the chocolate wine are as follows. Here the plant can also spread its wonderfully heavy, sweet scent:

  • in a courtyard
  • in the forest or Japanese garden
  • in a rhododendron garden
  • on a house wall on a terrace
  • can also be cultivated in a bucket on a balcony
Tip: Since the Akebie has a very high ornamental value all year round and it is also an evergreen plant, it makes sense to cultivate it near a seat. In this way, the hobby gardener can also enjoy the sweet scent that is exuded by the graceful flowers in April and May.

Substrat & Boden

The climbing cucumber prefers nutrient-rich, loamy, slightly moist to dry soil, which should be slightly acidic to slightly alkaline and, above all, rich in humus. It also tolerates lime. In order to achieve this condition, potting soil from the trade is usually mixed with a third of sand. If garden soil is used, this is mixed with compost and also a third of sand.

watering & fertilizing

If the Akebia is free in the garden bed, normal rain is usually sufficient to provide the climbing cucumber with enough water. Because she doesn’t like it too wet either. It should only be watered in very long, dry and hot periods, or when the sun shines daily on the ground around the chocolate wine and dries it out. The hobby gardener quickly recognizes from slightly drooping leaves when his plant needs watering. However, waterlogging must be avoided in any case, the soil should ideally always be slightly damp. When fertilizing, the following should be observed:

  • Fertilize during the flowering and fruiting seasons
  • Use slow-release or liquid fertilizer for vegetable plants
  • do without fertilizer from late autumn to early spring


The chocolate wine can be cultivated both in the open garden bed and in a large bucket. If it is to be planted in a bucket on the balcony or terrace, it must be able to offer the roots plenty of space. Therefore, choose a sufficiently large pot right from the start. The plant also does not tolerate waterlogging, which should also be taken into account when planting. This is done as follows:

Acabie cultivated in tubs

  • choose a large pot
  • create drainage over the drain hole
  • fill in stones or potsherds for this purpose
  • Put plant fleece over it
  • Ideally place the bucket on a raised stand
  • this allows excess water to drain downwards unhindered
  • Fill in the soil and leave a planting hole in the middle
  • insert plant
  • Fill in the remaining soil and press down lightly
  • water lightly
  • already offer a climbing aid for the young plant when planting

Acabia in the garden bed

  • Dig a planting hole
  • make sure that there is enough space for the roots even to a wall
  • Lay drainage out of stones or gravel
  • insert plant
  • Fill in the prepared soil and press down lightly
  • water moderately
  • Provide climbing aid
Note: If you replant a young Akebia or grow one yourself by propagation, you have to be patient. Because the climbing cucumber usually only flowers when it is five years old. If you don’t want to wait that long for the graceful blossom, you can get an older plant from a well-stocked garden trade.


Depending on how big the pot was chosen at the beginning, the acacia does not have to be moved to a larger pot every year. But since the soil also loses its nutrients over time with the watering processes, the plant should be given new soil every two to three years. To do this, the plant is carefully removed from the pot in the spring before the new shoots, all the old soil is removed and the procedure is the same as for the planting. If the existing pot is too small, you can also choose a new pot that is one or two sizes larger. Here, too, the procedure is the same as for planting.

To cut

Since the climbing cucumber is bare from the inside, it needs a regular pruning in which all these places that take the air for the Akebia quinata to breathe and live are removed. And since the plant can also grow up to twelve meters high, it can be cut back regularly here. The ideal time for pruning is autumn, after the fruit has been harvested, or in early spring before new growth:

  • remove any bare shoots inside
  • Cut back shoots that have grown too tall
  • individual main shoots can be severely cut back
  • this stimulates the plant to sprout again
  • if you have to repot in the spring, you should cut back vigorously
  • repotting a small plant is easier
Note: Acacia that is not pruned regularly and left to its own devices will lose its beautiful appearance over time. Because in such a case, the bare shoots will eventually prevail and there will be more bare wood than green leaves.


The chocolate wine can be easily increased by lowering. The ideal time for propagation is spring, when the new shoots appear and have grown long enough. For this purpose, the longer, lower shoots of the plant are used and proceed as follows:

  • Carefully bend the sinker down
  • use a new, flexible drive for this
  • dig a small trench in the ground next to the existing plant
  • here the sinker is inserted with one or two drive eyes
  • the existing leaves are removed
  • give earth over it
  • the tip must look out of the ground
  • once the shoot has rooted, the connection to the mother plant is severed
  • if the new plant is strong enough, put it in its own place
Tip: Pegs from the camping accessories can be used to ensure that the young, flexible shoots that are used for lowering remain in the ground. Simply insert these carefully into the ground over the shoot, so the sinker remains in one place in the ground at the beginning, if it has not yet rooted.


The chocolate wine is also easy to sow yourself, using the thick, black seeds from the fruit. Since spring sowing is ideal, the seeds must be depulped and stored in a warm, dry place over the winter. The boiler room is a good example for this. Place the seeds one by one on a piece of cardboard. In April or May, these can then be put into small pots in potting soil. The pots can be placed outside in a warm, sheltered spot and watered regularly but moderately. The first small seedlings quickly appear, which are either pricked out or moved to a larger container as young plants.

Tip: So that these very young plants survive their first winter well, the pots should be stored in a bright, not too warm place, such as in a stairwell or an unheated conservatory. A cold frame that is closed on very cold days is also ideal for overwintering the young plants.


The climbing cucumber is conditionally hardy, which means that young plants should be protected in winter, but can remain outside in the garden bed or bucket. Older plants only need to be protected on very frosty and cold winter days. If they were cultivated in regions with a mild climate, for example a wine-growing region, then no precautions usually have to be taken for the older plants. The acacia is ideally protected in winter if necessary as follows:

  • young chocolate wine always offer protection for the first few years
  • the elderly only when necessary
  • Put a layer of leaves and sticks on the ground around the plant
  • hit a bucket in plant fleece
  • place the pot on styrofoam
  • cover the plant with plant fleece
  • water only moderately and not in frost
  • stop fertilizing
Tip: In winter, the attention of the hobby gardener is asked. If the temperatures rise above the 0 point, the plant fleece over the plant can be removed. So the Akebie gets air, light and sunshine even in winter. However, the weather must be monitored regularly to ensure that the plant is not damaged by sub-zero temperatures, which often occur at night even in warmer winters.

Care mistakes, diseases or pests

Diseases or pests are not yet known for Akebia quinata. But a harsh winter can also affect the older plants, so they – and not just the young plants – should be protected.

The acacia is a graceful climbing plant that does not require much care because it is very undemanding. If it is given the right environment with a climbing aid, it can grow up to twelve meters high and, from around the age of five, offers the hobby gardener beautiful flowers with a sweet scent in the spring and in the autumn substantial fruits, which are also edible. Thus, the climbing cucumber on the balcony, terrace or in the garden on a pergola is the ideal ornamental and useful plant for the hobby gardener with little time.

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