The Chinese split basket is one of the rare climbing plants in our country. They are so robust, resilient and can also be grown here under simple conditions.© Alex - Fotolia.com
The Chinese split basket (Schisandra chinensis) brings variety to your garden. In order for the deciduous climber to come into its own, it only needs a climbing aid. But the star anise plant from Asia can do even more. The fruits, reminiscent of currants, are regarded as power berries in China and are full of valuable ingredients.
The earliest mention of the Chinese split basket as a medicinal plant dates back to the Han Dynasty. The fruits are also known as Schisandra berries, are drunk as tea or processed into jams or syrups.
The Chinese crevice basket is still rare in our gardens. If you would like to change this, you will find below all the important information about the attractive and useful medicinal and ornamental plant from the Far East.
The Chinese split basket is a looping climbing plant with a slim growth. The long stems are covered with glossy leaves. These are alternate and oval. The flowers appear lush and spread an aromatic fragrance. From the second year on, the currant-like berries appear on the grape-like fruit stands. The berries are not only a pretty plant decoration, they can be harvested in autumn and dried or processed raw.
The natural range
The main distribution area of the plant is in China. Occurrences are also found in Japan and Korea. Mainly the Kraftberry grows around the Amur, in Manchuria or on the Japanese islands of Hokkaido and Honshu.
The berry of five flavors
The Chinese call the fruit "Wu Wei Zi", the berry of the five flavors. In fact, the fruits offer an exceptional taste experience. The seeds have a bitter, pungent and slightly salty taste, while the flesh tastes more sweet and sour. Five flavors meet in one fruit.
When does the Chinese split basket bloom?
The white to light pink flowers appear around the end of May. The berries develop during the summer. The first fruiting begins about five years after planting. Up to five kilograms of fruit can be harvested per plant.
The use of the Kraftberry
Asians have valued the healing powers of China berries for thousands of years. The “Kraftberry” contains a high proportion of vitamins A, B6, C or E, as well as minerals and valuable essential oils. Traditional Chinese medicine attributes the fruit a strengthening and regenerating effect. Areas of application include colds, diabetes, depression, insomnia or asthma.
How to plant the Chinese split basket
When choosing the location, it should not be neglected that the plants want to go high. Adult plants reach heights of up to eight meters and are up to half a meter wide. The Chinese crevice basket grows by about 30 centimeters each year.
The plant prefers to grow in a partially shaded spot. Cultivation is also possible in the shade, but this is at the expense of flowering and the formation of the fruit.
" Tip: If Chinese split baskets are planted in the group, a minimum distance of half a meter must be maintained so that the plants do not interfere with one another and thus prevent growth.
The Chinese crevice basket must be protected from the blazing midday sun. This can be done well by applying a layer of mulch to the floor.
The Chinese crevice basket wants to curl up on walls or house walls, but it cannot do this on its own. Therefore the plants always need a climbing aid.
" Tip: The wild forms of the Chinese split basket are sexually separate, so that several plants are necessary if fruits are to grow. However, self-fruiting varieties are also commercially available, so group plantings are not absolutely necessary.
The Chinese split basket hardly makes any demands on the floor. A permeable and nutrient-rich substrate forms the ideal growth basis for the Chinese split basket. The substrate should not be too dry, but waterlogging should be avoided. Furthermore, a slightly acidic soil is tolerated and lime is also tolerated. Therefore, you can also pour with stale tap water.
❍ Planting instructions:
- Note planting time
- Select location
- Loosen and clean the floor
- Dig out the planting hole
- Water the plant
- Install drainage
- Insert the plant
- Fill in the substrate
- Press the floor
- Mulch the floor
- Attach climbing aid
- Water the plant well
Chinese split baskets cultivated in pots can be planted all summer. If several plants are used, a sufficient planting distance must be maintained. The plants should ideally be about one meter apart. Half a meter is also tolerated. The root balls should be watered before planting. The hobby gardener immerses the plants in a bucket of water until there are no more bubbles. So that the plant is protected from waterlogging, it is advisable to mix in coarse sand or gravel when planting.
" Tip: As a creeping plant, the Chinese split basket does not stop at its planting neighbors and embraces everything that promises to hold it. For this reason alone, an adequate planting distance is an important criterion.
How to maintain the Chinese split basket© Rubik Oleg - Fotolia.com
The floor should not dry out and should always feel damp. It is important to ensure that there is no waterlogging. A layer of mulch can help keep moisture in the ground for longer. Watering takes place daily on hot summer days. The morning or evening hours are to be used. In the blazing midday sun, the irrigation water would burn the leaves. The Chinese split basket is lime-compatible, but should preferably be poured with rainwater.
" Tip: The plants indicate a lack of moisture with a yellow leaf color.
The plants can be supplied with berry or fruit fertilizer. A first fertilizer is given at the beginning of the shoot, so that the flower formation is supported. Other fertilizers can be given in summer, after fruit training and in autumn before hibernation.
❍ Cut back:
Regular cutting measures are not necessary for the Chinese split basket. The hobby gardener only has to intervene if the liana literally threatens to grow over his head. Pruning should preferably be done in late winter before flowering begins. With rose or pruning shears, all long shoots and disturbing branches are removed. The plants should be cut on dry but not full sun days. Larger wounds on the main trunk should be treated with a wound closure agent.
There are various ways for the hobby gardener to multiply the Chinese split basket.
The following methods are common:
Propagation by cuttings
The propagation of cuttings is a common method and easy to understand even for laypeople. There are very good chances of success using cuttings to grow several strong young plants.
How to proceed
❶ Cut the cutting
❷ Place the cuttings in the soil
❸ Moisten the cutting evenly
❹ Transplant cuttings after budding
❺ Winter cuttings frost-free
❻ Plant cuttings in spring
The not very young, already slightly woody shoots are suitable as cuttings. These are brought to a length of about 20 centimeters. There should be several eyes on the cutting. A warm ambient temperature favors the formation of the roots and ultimately new shoots.
The increase by subsidence
Since it is a creeping plant, there are sufficiently long shoots. A strong shoot is led to the ground and brought into the ground with one eye. The place is weighted down with a stone so that the shoot cannot come loose from the ground. It may take some time before new roots form. It is therefore advisable to let the subsidence overwinter on the mother plant and only separate from the plant in spring and transplant separately.
Propagation by seeds
Propagation by sowing is considered to be relatively difficult. There are about two to three seeds in each fruit. The seeds are first dried and placed in plant pots in spring. The seeds are only slightly covered with soil. Keep the soil evenly moist and cover the planter with foil, which speeds up germination. In a bright and warm place, the seeds will start to germinate after a few weeks. When the young plants have reached a height of about ten centimeters, they are transplanted into larger planters, hibernated in the house and planted outdoors in the next spring.
Adult plants in the field do not need winter protection. The climbing plant is very robust and can withstand temperatures down to -30 degrees without being damaged.
Young plants need winter protection for the first three years. It is sufficient if you mulch the floor and cover it with brushwood.
The soil of the plants must not dry out even in winter. Therefore, the Chinese split basket is sporadically poured on frost-free days.
Detect and fight pests and diseases
The plants are robust and well adapted to our climate. The occurrence of diseases is not known. Pest infestation is also rare. If maintenance errors are avoided, Chinese split baskets are extremely robust and resistant.
However, an enemy of the climbing plants is prolonged drought. If the upper layers of soil start to dry out, the plant is already ailing and there is a risk of discoloration and falling flowers.