Q: I see bittersweet vines and berries used in decorating this time of year. Can we grow bittersweet here?
A: After I described how to propagate invasive Chinese privet in a recent column, I had to invent a self-flagellation machine to do penance. I’m not about to recommend you plant this equally encroaching vine.
Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus, has attractive berries but it climbs over everything that gets in its way. Use the berries and vines if you find them but put them in the garbage after Christmas.
On the other hand, American bittersweet, Celastrus scandens, is an innocuous vine with pretty berries. American bittersweet has a smooth stem but Oriental bittersweet bears thorns.