Plants

Angel Vine Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Muehlenbeckia Complexa”

Read our guide to Angel Vines for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Muehlenbeckia Complexa”
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Muehlenbeckia Complexa, commonly known as Angel vine, Maidenhair vine, Mattress vine, Pohuehue, or Wiggy-bush, is a species of shrubs in the Polygonaceae family. Angel vines are native to some parts of New Zealand, such as all three main islands and Lord Howe Island. They can be found growing in various habitats including coastal, montane, and lowland regions.

Angel vines play a key role in the environment of their natural habitat. They can seal human and natural disturbances while also suppressing the growth of new weeds like blackberries.

Moreover, these plants promote an increase in insect diversity. They serve as an excellent host for a wide variety of species, such as coastal copper butterflies, Aphis cotteri aphids, pohuehue gall moths, and pohuehue pocket gall mites.

About Angel Vine

  • Thanks to their vining habit, Angel vines are often used for ornamental purposes, to create lovely topiaries, and to decorate trellises.
  • Their buds and leaves are a great food source for birds like kereru, tui, and bellbird. Also, they are a tasty attraction for possums which can eat them whole pretty fast.
  • They are very popular throughout the Eastern and Western coasts of the United States and have been successfully introduced to Japan, Malaysia, Western Australia, and the United Kingdom.
  • Māori people, especially children, used to eat their succulent flowers due to their juicy texture and sweet taste.
  • Angel vines love getting plenty of bright, direct morning sun and partial shade in the afternoon. For optimal growth, you should place these plants in a location with filtered light or near north or east-facing windows.
  • These shrubs respond well to warm and slightly humid environments. When growing them indoors, they should be just fine in average room conditions.
  • With a good-quality well-draining potting mix for planting and monthly fertilizing during their growing season, Angel vines will grow healthy without any extra requirements.
  • Angel vines prefer a medium that is slightly dried-out in-between waterings, so you must check the soil to find out when it is the right time for watering.
  • Although a lot of wild animals munch on them, your pets shouldn’t do that. All parts of Angel vine can be pretty toxic to humans and pets. Keep these plants in a location where curious cats, dogs, and children cannot take a bite from them.
Angel Vine
Angel Vine

Angel Vine Features: An Overview

  • Angel vines belong to the Muehlenbeckia genus that contains about 24 species of flowering plants. Usually, these species are vines or shrubs and some of them can become weedy and quite hard to eradicate.
  • In their natural habitat, Angel vines are a common companion to Makaka (Plagianthus Divaricatus).
  • They are fast-growing vines that can reach up to 15 feet (4.5 m) in length.
  • Angel vines have a dense mass of interlaced branches and a reduced number of leaves. This trait is considered rather unique to New Zealand plants.
  • Their slender, tough, and woody stems grow on other plants or rocks through climbing or twining. When they have no external support, these plants will climb upon themselves.
  • Angel vines produce a small and round petiolate foliage, but it can come in various shapes and sizes even on the same specimen. Their leaves have either lobes or continuous edges and they grow on red-brown stems.
  • During their blooming season, they exhibit tiny, dioecious, and delightfully fragrant flowers.
  • As the bloomings age, they transform into succulent fruits. They are semi-transparent and contain black and triangular-shaped seeds in the center.

Growing Angel Vine

Angel vines are suitable for both indoor and outdoor growing as long as the environmental conditions mimic their natural habitat. But! Due to well-known temperature fluctuations, many gardeners prefer to grow these plants in containers indoors. It is more practical and you have more chances to keep your Angel vine healthy and happy all-year-round.

Angel vines are light-feeders that do well in partial to full sunlight. They grow at their best in a location where they can receive plenty of sunlight, so you should place your plants near a bright window. If the sun is too harsh, which is often the case in front of south or west-facing windows, these plants will start to lose their vigor. Make sure you have curtain sheers to filter the light or place your Angel vines further back in the room.

Angel Vine leaves
Angel Vine leaves

During all seasons, Angel vines prefer warm temperatures that range from 65 to 80 °F (18-27 °C). They cannot tolerate extreme temperatures and will die off pretty fast when exposed to frost. When temperatures drop below 40 °F (4 °C), you must bring your plants inside. You should also protect these plants from cold drafts, windows, and any heat or AC vents.

No idea what type of soil to use when first planting Angel vines? No worries! They have no high demands as long as the potting soil has good drainage. Look for a good-quality all-purpose commercial potting mix and your plants will be more than pleased.

These plants are not heavy feeders and can survive without any fertilizers throughout their life. If you want to boost their growth, you can feed your Angel vine with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer at ½ strength once a month. The fertilizing should be made from spring to autumn and skipped during the winter, as the growth is slower than usual.

Repotting Angel Vines

Angel vines grow at a pretty fast pace, so they usually need repotting once every two years. Transplant your plants in a pot that is one size larger than the current one and filled with fresh potting mix. If you want to keep your Angel vines at their current size, you can use the same container for repotting. Keep in mind that these plants need a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent the soil from waterlogging.

Maidenhair Vine, From Amazon

These shrubby beauties will grow like crazy with proper environmental conditions and many growers prefer to prune them from time to time. To encourage new growth and branching, you should cut away the unhealthy leaves and stems. They can also be maintained in a compact shape by pruning them at about one-third in spring. However, if you want your plants to look all-natural, you can always give them enough space and freedom to unfold.

While caring for Angel vines, take some extra time to inspect them for intruders. The most common pests that may bother your plants are various insects including aphids. If you notice any sign of infestation, you can treat your plant through squishing, rinsing, or wiping with a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also use suitable insecticides and pesticides according to the package instructions.

Watering Angel Vines

You have no reason to worry about how often you should water Angel vines, no matter how much experience you have in the garden. After caring for cacti and succulents, you’ll feel that all species of shrubs are quite easy to care for. Remember that it is always better to under-water Angel vines than to drown them in too much water for a long period.

Angel vines enjoy being watered thoroughly but will not appreciate soggy conditions. In winter, you should water these plants less often to avoid over-watering and irreversible damage. The frequency of watering these plants directly depends on the pots in which they are grown. Depending on the container’s size, you should allow the top 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) to completely dry out before watering your Angel vines again.

They prefer average room humidity that ranges from 30% to 40%. If the air around your Angel vines is too humid, you can maintain the ideal levels by placing a dehumidifier somewhere close to your plants.

Muehlenbeckia Complexa
Muehlenbeckia Complexa

Propagating Angel Vine

Have your plants grown insanely long and you do not want to throw away the extra branches? Well, you can always use their stems to propagate them very fast and easy. Angel vines are so adorable that you can always find an extra spot for another specimen. They can also charm your friends from the very first moment so they make for perfect gifts.

Angel vines respond well to propagation when the cuttings are taken in the summer. Look for healthy stems that have several leaves on them and cut their tips at about 3 to 4 inches (7-10 cm). For optimal results, the cuttings should be dipped in rooting hormone before transplanting them into the soil. Fill your new pots with fresh potting mix or perlite and plant your cuttings in their individual growing medium. If you give them the same care as for the mother plant, you should notice the development of a healthy root system in very little time.

These shrubs can also be propagated through seeds, but this method takes longer than others. When their succulent fruits have been produced, you can remove their seeds and dig them in fresh potting mix. The seeds will germinate better if you place the pot in a bright location and water the seeds regularly.

In Conclusion

With their cute foliage and beautiful-scented flowers, Angel vines are friendly companions both indoors and outdoors. They are low-maintenance shrubs that do well with plenty of bright light, warm and slightly humid environments, and regular watering. Thanks to their appealing and easy-going style, Angel vines are a must-have in every gardener’s collection.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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