Chocolate vine (Akebia quinata) derives its common name from the chocolate-colored, vanilla-scented flowers that appear on the vine in early to late spring. Reaching up to 40 feet long, chocolate vine thrives when allowed to grow up a trellis or when left to creep along the ground. The young plant's green, twining vines become brown with age, and leaves begin purple in color becoming blue-green as they mature. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, chocolate vine loses its leaves during winter in zones 4 through 6. In zones 7 and 8, the plant remains evergreen all year.
Plant chocolate vine after the danger of frost has passed in the spring, in fertile, well-drained, moist soil. According to Washington State University Extension, chocolate vine prefers partial shade, but will tolerate a location that receives full sun.
Use a shovel to dig a hole in the soil of equal depth and three times as wide as the container in which the chocolate vine was previously grown. Place the root ball in the hole and cover with soil. Water lightly, soaking the soil to a depth of at least 2 inches, to initiate new growth.
Water your chocolate vine once a week during the first month of growth to help establish the root system. Decrease the frequency of watering to once every 10 days thereafter, or once per week during periods of drought or when temperatures rise above 95 degrees F. Soak the soil to a depth of 2 to 4 inches at each watering.
Feed your chocolate vine in early spring, just before active growth resumes, using a balanced 10-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) bloom-boosting fertilizer to maximize flower production. Check the manufacturer's directions for proper application and dosage.
Prune the vine once per year, before new growth begins, to promote additional foliage production and prevent the plant from becoming invasive. Use pruning shears to cut back any overgrown vines to the desired length.