Creeping Wire Vine
Common Name: wire vine, creeping wire vine, mattress vine
Botanical Name: Muehlenbeckia axillaris
Family: Polygonaceae, the Knotweed family.
Habit: Hardy creeping evergreen groundcover that is deciduous at the cold end of its range. Its texture is unique - small, round cotoneaster-like leaves widely spaced on dark wire-like stems. The tiny flowers aren't showy - but lead to translucent pearly-white fruit. Stems and leaves grow laterally hugging the ground and rooting as they go. Upward growth is more prevalent in milder climates. A dense springy mat of old and new growth eventually accumulates, leading to the other common name, mattress vine. Under ideal circumstances, a mat of six or eight feet across and six or eight inches high is formed. Can be killed back by harsh winter.
Culture: Zones 6-9: Sun or shade and any well-drained soil. At the cold end of its range, easier to establish with excellent drainage. It does well in quick-draining and wind-sheltered cracks of ledges and walls. In milder climates it is almost too easy and adaptable. It grows quickly and works well as an annual in cooler climates. You can clip or even mow it in the Spring to keep it flat. Clip off out-of-bounds stems at any time. Propagate by division in Spring or by seed. Muehlenbeckia is native to New Zealand.
Uses: Unique groundcover and useful for growing in cracks in stonework and over hardscape in general. Its tolerance pruning and training, so it can be clipped (with frequent pruning) into tight tracery around stones, or grown up into wire forms to make topiary. Useful rock garden plant or fine-textured groundcover for larger areas.