We highly recommend a lizard for your house

Well, not exactly, but we needed to get your attention. What we’re really talking about is the Lizard Vine, Tetrastigma voinierianum. This vigorous species, native to Laos and North Vietnam, is a liana, that is, a woody vine. The plant is in the grape family (Vitaceae); indeed, its leaves are grapelike in shape, but are generally larger, up to a foot long. (Its characteristic leaf shape also gives rise to another of the species’ common names, Chestnut Vine.) The shiny serrated foliage bears reddish-brown hairs on the underside. The brown stems of T. voinierianum are thick and ropelike.

The Lizard Vine produces small chartreuse flowers which begin appearing during early summer, but they are not a focal point. The species is quite cold-hardy, able to withstand temperatures perhaps as low as 25ยบ. It likes abundant watering. Interestingly, a newly-installed plant will sometimes delay putting on a growth spurt if conditions are not immediately to its liking, but it is otherwise a very robust grower.

This species has proven rather versatile. It can be maintained as a containerized house plant — sometimes in a hanging basket — so long as it is not relegated to the darkest part of a room. Outside it tolerates lighting exposures from shade to sun. The plant can quickly cover a chain-link fence that the homeowner might want to soften. It also performs well on a pergola. T. voinierianum is available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in 3-gal. trellised containers.

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