Every time I walk behind the greenhouse this time of year, I notice the distinct fragrance of honey. I wish you could smell it. This honey scent comes from the blooms of the large Decumaria barbara plant completely covering the pine tree it climbs. This fragrant Wild Hydrangea Vine can grow up to 30 feet!
Decumaria barbara is usually referred to as Climbing Hydrangea because its delicate, lacy blooms do look like a white hydrangea bloom cluster, and it is in the hydrangea family. This plant is also known as Wood Vamp, but I have been unable to figure out why. If you know, I would welcome your comments.
Decumaria is a native vine found growing mostly in the Southeastern United States and can often be found on a hike through the woodland in Georgia. It can be grown anywhere in the South, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-11.
Do not confuse this plant with the non-native Hydrangea anomala petiolaris, which is also known as Climbing Hydrangea.
Wild Hydrangea Vine is easy to grow and can be grown as a groundcover or allowed to climb any structure. Like some other flowering vines, this Hydrangea Vine will not bloom unless it is permitted to climb. Its aerial roots will attach itself to anything from a tree trunk to a brick or rock wall, but will not damage the tree or wall in any way.
Decumaria barbara prefers part shade and is one of the few native vines that will bloom in full shade. The fact that it is usually found growing along stream banks indicates that it enjoys moist soil.
The rich green leaves look beautiful all summer and are not bothered by any pests or diseases. I would suggest it to be grown on an arbor or trellis near the patio, but it is deciduous in our climate, so there would be no foliage in winter.
Climbing Hydrangea belongs in the wildlife garden. Birds and small mammals love to hide and build nests in the lush foliage. Butterflies and other pollinators love the flowers.