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Post by gardeningjoy » Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:33 pm

I moved a vine of bittersweet from a relative's home on Long Island 25 years ago. It thrived here in Virginia but bloomed and produced berries this fall for the first time. I waited for the yellow petals to open befor picking but when I went to pick them apparently the wind had removed most of the yellow petals so I need to know when is the right time to pick perfect stems? When should it be pruned? fertilized? I find many young plants of bittersweet near by. Is it invasive?

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Re: bittersweet

Post by lorijones » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:11 pm

Do you know if this is an American Bittersweet or an Oriental Bittersweet? Berries on the American bittersweet are produced at the tips of the vine only whereas the Oriental bittersweet produces berries all along the vine and the seed casings are yellow rather than orange. They also have blunt thorns along the stem. Oriental bittersweet is highly invasive and has made it on the invasive species list in many areas. Hopefully, you have the American bittersweet!
They need to be growing in full sun to produce the best crop of berries and you also need to have both a male and female plant in order to get berries. Bittersweet should be harvested in the early fall. It is ready to harvest when the first orange capsules begin to open. You can even cut the branches before the capsules split open as the warm temperatures inside the house will cause them to open.
Pruning should be done in the late winter or early spring and they should be pruned to keep them in bounds and to protect the surrounding vegetation. Do not allow them to climb into a tree or they will eventually girdle the trunk and kill the tree.

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