American Bittersweet Propagation: How To Grow Bittersweet From Seed Or Cuttings

Close Up Of American Bittersweet Berries
(Image credit: mirceax)

American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) is a flowering vine. It grows up to 25 feet (8 m.) in length and 8 feet (2.5 m.) wide. If one bittersweet vine isn’t enough for your garden, you can propagate it and grow more. You can either start growing bittersweet cuttings or plant bittersweet seeds. If you are interested in propagating American bittersweet vines, read on for tips.

Propagating American Bittersweet Vines

American bittersweet propagation is not difficult, and you have a number of options at your disposal. You can grow more bittersweet plants by rooting bittersweet vines. You can also start propagating American bittersweet vines by collecting and planting seeds. What is the best method of propagating American bittersweet vines, cuttings or seeds? If you take cuttings and begin rooting bittersweet vines, you will grow plants that are genetic echoes of the parent plants. That means that a cutting taken from a male bittersweet vine will produce a male bittersweet vine. If you are growing bittersweet cuttings from a female plant, the new plant will be female. If your chosen form of American bittersweet propagation is to sow the seeds of a bittersweet, the resulting plant will be a new individual. It could be male or it could be female. It could have traits possessed by neither of its parents.

How to Grow Bittersweet from Seed

The primary means of American bittersweet vine propagation is planting seeds. If you decide to use seeds, you should collect them from your bittersweet vine in autumn. Pick up the fruits when they split open in the fall. Dry them for a few weeks by storing them in a single layer in the garage. Pluck the seeds from the fruits and dry them for yet another week. Stratify the seeds at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 C.) for three to five months. You can do this by placing them in a bag of moist soil in the refrigerator. Sow the seeds the following summer. They may require a full month to germinate.

How to Start Growing Bittersweet Cuttings

If you want to start propagating American bittersweet vines using cuttings, you can take softwood cuttings in mid-summer or hardwood cuttings in winter. Both softwood and hardwood cuttings are taken from the vine tips. The former should be about 5 inches (12 cm.) long, while the latter type are twice that length. To start rooting bittersweet vines, dip the cut end of each cutting in rooting hormone. Plant each in a pot filled with two parts perlite and one part sphagnum moss. Keep the soil moist until roots and new shoots develop. You can increase the humidity for hardwood cuttings by placing a plastic bag over each pot. Place the pot on the north side of the house, then move into the sun and remove the bag when new shoots appear in spring. Note: American bittersweet and other bittersweet varieties are known to be aggressive growers and are, in many areas, considered noxious weeds. Make sure to check whether or not it is advisable to grow this plant in your area beforehand, and take necessary precautions on its control if currently growing the plant.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.