Specimen Polygonum baldschuanica with white flowers
How to grow Polygonum baldschuanica

Commonly known as the 'Russian vine' or 'mile-a-minute vine', Fallopia baldschuanica (previously and still widely known as Polygonum baldschuanicum) is an extremely vigorous deciduous climber native to most notably China, Russia and Kazakhstan. It is often found for sale in garden centres but truth be told it is not a particularly suitable plant for suburban gardens due to its rapid and difficult to contain growth. So vigorous is it that some may consider it to be little more than an invasive weed.

It is widely grown for its one redeeming feature which is its ability to quickly hide unsightly fences and other garden structures, and some even believe that it can look particularly attractive when trained into trees, old stumps and bare banks. The blooms are not particularly appealing to me, but are known to be a good provider of nectar and pollen for honey bees.

Polygonum baldschuanica white flowers
How to grow Polygonum baldschuanicum
Under favourable conditions the stems of Fallopia baldschuanica can reach an impressive 12 metres long, with pale-green, ovate to heart-shaped leaves.

The small, white tinged pink blooms are borne in conspicuous, crowded panicles appearing throughout the summer and autumn. Once pollinated the blooms can turn increasingly pink, followed by small, shiny black fruits.

Fallopia baldschuanica has proven itself to be particularly robust and will perform well in any type of soil including shallow soils over chalk. Aspect is not really important as it will simply tolerate where it is or grow to more favourable conditions. That being said, young specimens will appreciate a certain amount of shelter and initial support until they become established. Young plants will also need the leading shoots pinched out to encourage side growth. Water in its first year during extended periods of drought.

Prune back during late autumn to maintain its shape and to help contain its growth.

It is rarely affected by pests and diseases although it can be prone to attack from aphids.

Main image credit - Simon Eade
In text image credit - Jan Samanek

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