Vincetoxicum ascyrifolium (False Bush Stephanotis) [6 Seeds]


Germination Information: I recommend these seeds only for gardeners who have experience with seeds that benefit from or require a chilling period. The only information I have on germinating them is from the original Gardens North seed packet, which advised a 3-month chilling period and was very adamant about exposing the seeds to light to get them to sprout. I started my original seeds by placing them on a moist paper towel, refrigerating them for 3 months, and then leaving them in a warm, bright spot to sprout. It also works to provide a natural, rather than artificial, chilling period by sowing in late fall to early winter and leaving the pot outside. Using the winter-sowing (milk jug) technique, I sowed on December 30, and the seeds began to sprout on April 24. Your results will likely vary.

Note that this information will not appear on the seed packet you receive.

Please read the description as well before ordering.

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Years ago, I received a piece of false bush stephanotis (then Cynanchum ascyrifolium, now Vincetoxicum ascyrifolium) from a gardening friend, and within a season or two, I understood why she prized it. This clump-forming dogbane relative bears bright green, lance-shaped leaves accented with sprays of five-petaled white flowers. The best show is in early summer but scattered rebloom can occur through the rest of the growing season. It’s maybe not the showiest perennial, but it’s very pretty, unusual, and trouble-free. Oh yes, it can develop a rich yellow fall color too!

The one thing I couldn’t figure out is why that clump didn’t set seed even though there were so many flowers and plenty of visiting pollinators. I finally found a clue that many of the admittedly few plants in US gardens may be a single clone (I know mine was originally acquired through Seneca Hill Perennials), and another clue that the species might be dioecious (with separate male and female plants), so I thought maybe it would help to have some seed-grown plants. I managed to get one packet from the seed company Gardens North the year before it closed, and from that packet, I got a few plants. Grown out, they turned out to look very much like my original plant but with small differences: slightly darker green leaves, a bit more upright habit, and larger but not quite as abundant flowers. I divided my original pass-along clump, paired one piece with each of the seedlings, and was excited to finally find one long, thin seedpod on one of the seed-grown plants at the end of that growing season. The next year, I got two pods, and three this year—still only on the seed-grown plants, not on the original one.

In more recent sleuthing, I ran across this archived page from Plant Delights Nursery: Cynanchum ascyrifolium. In there, they mention that Cynanchum ascyrifolium is mixed up in the trade with Cynanchum acuminatifolium. Their written description matches my seed-grown plants, but their photos look like my original plant. To further muddle the issue, some taxonomic resources say that Cynanchum ascyrifolium, C. acuminatifolium, and C. acuminatum, as well as Vincetoxicum ascyrifolium, V. acuminatifolium, and V. acuminatum, are all synonyms. If you are confused, welcome to my world. At this point, I am trusting the identification of my original seeds and offering the few 2022 seeds I have as V. ascyrifolium, in the hopes they will get into the hands of gardeners with some tolerance for botanical uncertainty who appreciate rare but garden-worthy perennials.

Full sun to partial shade. Perennial; reportedly Zones 5 to 9.

2022-collected seeds are sold out. I hope to collect again in late October 2023. Each packet contains at least 6 seeds. One packet per customer.

Please read the germination information as well before ordering.

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