Every Container Garden needs a little Muhlenbeckia – Here’s Why

April 5, 2024

container planting combo - muhlenbeckia and burgundy petunias
Muhlenbeckia vine trails down the side of a cone shapes wicke planter. The stems of the wirey vine are dark red and compliment the dark petunia and pink flowers in the arrangement.

As a container gardener who doesn’t typically partake of the thriller fillwer spiller mantra I neverhte less LOVE THIS COMBO.  Muehlenbeckia, Dark Burgundy Petunias and what is that little white flower? (it kinda looks like Erigéron karvinskianus but not quite – I am desperate to know.  And these cornucopia baskets hung with plain chain is so cool.  So I think I am once again smitten with the odd little muehlenbeckia.

When I lived in London, I had a small garden, which I did nothing with.  I was a renter, and it was green, so I left it alone except for one potted plant. 

I can’t explain what my attraction was, but in my ivy-green walled grassy garden that was all green, I added just one plant, and it was a pole of green Muehlenbeckia complexa. It too was flowerless and just well, green, but I found it endlessly pleasing.

Supposedly wire vine gets little white flowers that are hardly bigger than the tiny leaves (so basically who even notices them?) – but I don’t think I have ever had a plant bloom.

A variety of potted plants displayed on and underneath a black outdoor table, surrounded by garden foliage.
Muhlenbeckia spills out of bowl planters in this garden by malin.bjorkholm

What is it about muhlebeckia that makes it so charming?

I regularly see little pots of these plants tucked in among pretty displays of antiques at shows like Brimfield. I think it is the cuteness of the tiny leaves that is so enticing. It is textural, but also just so diminutive. The leaves are held by long stems – that do look like wire (and give it’s common names wire vine, maidenhair vine, and creeping wire vine).

it is infact a fairly tough plant when planted in areas like San Francisco (where it is invasive) but in mu New England garden it happily lives through the growing season in my potted gardens and then, if I don’t bring it inside, it dies a quick death when it gets cold.

Muehlenbeckia is native across various climates and continents, from the rocky coasts of New Zealand to the rugged highlands of South America. This geographical diversity has endowed the genus with remarkable adaptability – which in the right (or wrong) place – can encourage it to grow in thick matts that suffocates everything nearby.

Meuhlenbeckia are easy to toss through and over other plants or to let them lightly dangle over the edge of some vintage tableware.

I can’t explain it,  I just loved the little leaves and the reddish-black wirey stems.  I had kinda forgotten about this plant until I saw this picture this morning.

A modern outdoor setup featuring a variety of potted plants on a black bench against a white wooden wall.
A couple pots full of muhlebeckia complex sit on the bottom shelf of this container garden collection that also features hostas, ferns and other textural plants. Image and design by malin.bjorkholm.

This quirky plant will climb or mound or mat and it retains an airy frothiness that is unlike anything else.  You can even mow it – which will result in a thickening of the stems.

Are you hooked now too?  You can search for it as muehlenbeckia, but it is commonly also known as creeping wire vine or maidenhair vine, but if you decide to plant it, do be careful; it can become invasive under the right conditions.

More Vines and charming things for your garden:

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  1. lh says:

    little white flower is saxifrage

  2. Oh my gosh, WIRE VINE! You are wise to warn about its invasive nature; when nurseries around here (Northern California, Zone 9) started selling it a few years ago I was smitten, and planted one near a client’s new waterfall and pond. OH MY! It did a wonderful job of softening the rocks, and then spread 10 feet in every direction, entwining everything in its path. Now most nurseries are only selling it on topiary frames, which would be an awesome use for it! Thanks for the neat pics; I didn’t know it could be mowed, but that doesn’t surprise me! The white flower looks a saxifrage?

  3. I love Wire VIne and have only had it myself in topiaries. The little leaves are so delicate and pretty.

  4. Hilda says:

    I thought the little white flower was Bacopa.

  5. Bethany says:

    I bought one of these for a hanging basket combo this year, and felt the same way as you, so smitten. The season is starting to wind down and I wanted to make a note to buy it again next year, and also see if I can overwinter, and buy seeds. So fun to find your post and the wonderful pics and info. Lovely blog. Thank you.

    • rochelle says:

      bethany – I have had mine in the kitchen window all summer and is very happy — I am pretty sure you can do the same all winter…when I had it in england it stayed green outside all winter, but that was in a much milder climate than I am in now (zone 5 New England) depending on where you are, it might be an option to just leave it.

  6. Jennifer de Graaf says:

    could the flower be this or similar? It is definitely not Bacopa. I LOVE those deep petunias!

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