Mühlenbeckia: care and varieties

Mühlenbeckia: care and varieties


Mühlenbeckia is a genus of plants that contains more than 20 different species. Their main area of ​​distribution extends from Australia to New Zealand. They occur in New Guinea and are mainly found in the Neotropic. Some species grow in South America. Mühlenbeckia species are also known as wire bushes. The most common ornamental plant is Muehlenbeckia complexa, which is known in German under the common name Mühlenbeckia.

also read

  • Which location is best for the Mühlenbeckia?
  • How should I overwinter my Mühlenbeckia?
  • Is the Mühlenbeckia poisonous?


The leaves of the species are arranged alternately. In most representatives, they are divided into a petiole and a leaf blade. Your leaf blade is linear or circular with an attached tip. They can be triangular to lanceolate. The leaf margin is slightly wavy or smooth. At the base of the stem there are either tiny stipules or a covering developed from the stipules, which is transparent and usually falls off at an early stage of development.

Leaf shape of the Muehlenbeckia complexa:

  • rounded to ovoid
  • glossy green
  • drawn out to a point
  • stalked


Mühlenbeckia species have terminal or lateral inflorescences that appear spiky or tufted. The wire bushes develop hermaphroditic flowers. Some plants produce both bisexual and unisexual flowers on an individual. The small, inconspicuous individual flowers consist of a whitish to greenish colored envelope. It is made up of five bracts that have grown together. Petals are not developed. The male stamens often appear yellow or pink to purple in color.


The plants grow as deciduous shrubs that can adopt upright, prostrate or climbing forms of growth. They develop dense branches and an underground rhizome. The branches are very thin and can be hairy, glandular or glabrous. Their bark is dark in color.


Due to the different growth forms, Mühlenbeckia species have numerous uses. They are ideal as ground cover and green unsightly areas in the garden. The bushes can be used to plant hanging baskets. Here they are suitable for the outer area, as the branches hang over the edge of the pot. The climbing species decorate climbing aids and gates. Upright specimens can be used as potted plants to beautify entrance areas and balconies.

Wire bushes are used for the extensive greening of rock gardens or for the decoration of graves. In small gardens they are grown as a substitute for lawns. Some species are suitable for culture in side bowls. Wire shrubs can also be grown as house plants.

Ground cover

Not every Mühlenbeckia is suitable as a ground cover. Muehlenbeckia complexa (wire wine or white-fruited wire shrub) and Muehlenbeckia axillaris (black-fruited wire shrub) are prostrate shrubs whose branches crawl flat across the ground. While the wire wine is only hardy to a limited extent and should, if possible, overwinter in a frost-free place, the black-fruited wire bush is also suitable for areas with frosty winter months. This ground cover can easily overwinter outside.

You should pay attention to:

  • light penumbra
  • permeable soil with sand
  • radical pruning possible with a lawnmower

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Muehlenbeckia complexa and Muehlenbeckia axillaris are popular indoor plants. Your climbing shoots decorate hanging hanging baskets or pots equipped with climbing aids, which are in an elevated position. The wire wine feels particularly comfortable in the room, as it mainly needs mild temperatures in winter. An airy and light location can encourage flowering. Avoid a location in the blazing sun. A light place in partial shade is more suitable. A cool and well-ventilated room ensures healthy growth.

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Is Muehlenbeckia poisonous?

The plant parts and berries of the wire bushes are considered non-toxic. There are no known indications of intolerance. Nevertheless, you should discourage children from eating the fruit, as little is known about the ingredients of these plants. In animals, too, no negative effects have been described after the consumption of leaves and fruits. The green leaves are eaten in small quantities by chinchillas. Muehlenbeckia hastulata serves guinea pigs as a popular change on the menu.

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Which location is suitable?

Wire shrubs prefer a location with moderate to good exposure. They like a partially shaded place with bright conditions. Too much sun damages the bushes. Mühlenbeckia species are adaptable and also thrive in warm places in the shade. The plants feel just as comfortable outdoors as in a well-ventilated room. In winter, Muehlenbeckia complexa needs temperatures between five and ten degrees Celsius. Muehlenbeckia axillaris is frost hardy.

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The soil should be well drained, because the bushes do not like wet feet. Make sure that the root ball is kept evenly moist. Airy potting soil is recommended as a substrate. A mixture of potting soil and sand is ideal. Alternatively, perlites are suitable (€ 32.90 at Amazon *) to increase permeability. The substrate should be pH neutral.

Propagate Muehlenbeckia

Mühlenbeckia species can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. For sowing, a soil temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius is necessary for the seeds to germinate. A heated greenhouse is ideal for this method because it gives you better control over conditions. If you have a mini greenhouse, you can place it on the windowsill. You can get seeds from specialist shops or from your own plant.

Propagation using cuttings is easier than using seeds. Cut off the tips of the shoots from the plant so that the cuttings have at least three leaves. Put the cut shoots in a planter filled with potting soil and put a transparent plastic bag over the pot. This ensures a high level of humidity. You should moisten the substrate regularly so that it does not dry out. Ventilate the planter daily to prevent mold growth. In a bright and warm place with temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius, the cuttings form the first roots after a few weeks.

Tips for propagation:

  • several cuttings in one pot for particularly dense arrangements
  • division of the plant possible in spring
  • Cuttings can be propagated inside all year round

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The correct planting distance

Make sure there is a gap of 20 to 30 centimeters between two specimens. There is space for ten to twelve plants on one square meter. Smaller specimens can be planted more densely with 20 plants per square meter.

What is the best time to plant?

Wire bushes can be planted between February and October. Note that young plants of hardy varieties and species are sensitive to sub-zero temperatures. For freshly planted plants, a thick layer of insulation is recommended in the first year. In particularly cold winter months, you should protect outdoor plants with brushwood or fir branches in the following years as well.

Pour the Muehlenbeckia

Provide regular watering to keep the root ball evenly moist. Regular watering is important in a particularly warm location. Make sure that the soil does not dry out in potted plants. Outdoor shrubs need new watering when the top substrate layer has dried. If the plant is too dry, it will lose its leaves. Waterlogging damages the roots. Make sure that the substrate is well drained before planting. In winter, you should reduce watering. Water the plants enough so that the root ball does not dry out.

Fertilize Muehlenbeckia properly

In the growing season between April and October, wire bushes enjoy regular fertilization, which provides them with nutrients. Fertilize the plants about once a month. A liquid fertilizer that you add to the irrigation water is ideal.

At the beginning of spring or just before summer, you can alternatively provide the bushes with a long-term fertilizer. This gives the plants nutrients well into autumn. When you have repotted your wire bush, you can mix some compost under the substrate. This means that you do not have to fertilize the plant additionally for the first few months.

Cut the Muehlenbeckia correctly

As soon as a few shoots disturb the overall appearance of the wire bush, you can cut back the plant. In the case of indoor plants, pruning is possible all year round. Outdoor shrubs should be pruned in autumn. Vigorous and colorless shoots, on which no leaves grow, usually arise in winter in locations that are too dark. Remove these branches in spring. They also rob the plant of energy. If you discover more dried up or diseased shoots in the course of the year, you can cut them off immediately.

To avoid unnecessary injuries during this maintenance procedure, you should use a clean and sharp knife. Mühlenbeckia species prove to be very easy on cutting. Large areas that are overgrown by ground cover can be cut off with the lawnmower if necessary. This will stimulate dense branching growth. The ideal time for this measure is spring. Set the lawn mower to the highest level.

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How do I transplant properly?

Houseplants should be repotted every one to two years. Mühlenbeckien are vigorous shrubs that have rooted through the pot substrate within a short time. You will then need a larger planter so that your growth does not suffer from the lack of space. The ideal time for transplanting is in spring, when the flowers have wilted.


Each Mühlenbeckia species is differently adapted to the winter conditions. There are a few species that can easily survive freezing temperatures. Other representatives within this genus must be overwintered in a frost-free place. If you are not sure which species you have, consider hibernating the shrub in a cool place inside for safety.

Muehlenbeckia axillaris is one of the frost-tolerant wire bushes that can withstand low temperatures below zero. Protect the plant with a layer of brushwood or pine branches. Muehlenbeckia complexa does not tolerate sub-zero temperatures. This wire shrub is not suitable for outdoor cultivation. A planting in a pot enables you to quickly relocate as soon as winter is around the corner. Frost-free winter quarters are important. You should shorten the plant a little before transporting it.

Make sure that the root ball does not dry out. On frost-free days, you should water the bushes outdoors. Potted plants are watered regularly as soon as the substrate dries out. Fertilization is not necessary during the winter months.

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Wire shrubs are extremely robust plants that are neither affected by disease nor by pests. Damage to the plant can be traced back to incorrect care measures or unsuitable locations. The leaves do not get any light in places that are too dark in winter. The lack of light causes the shrubs to lose their leaves. If the roots are too wet, they tend to rot. Rotten roots can no longer absorb water, which can also lead to leaf loss.

Make sure the soil is well drained. Mix the substrate with sand and, when cultivating in a bucket, ensure good drainage from potsherds or expanded clay. (€ 17.50 at Amazon *) After watering, no water should remain in the coaster. Use a clean and sharp tool for cutting measures, as cuts serve as entry points for pathogens.

Loses leaves

As deciduous species, the bushes that grow outdoors drop their leaves just before winter. In spring the plants sprout again and develop fresh leaves. Not all Mühlenbeckia species are equally frost hardy. When the soil freezes, the roots are damaged. The plant is then no longer able to sprout fresh leaves.

If the leaves of a houseplant suddenly turn brown and fall off, it indicates a suboptimal location. Mill basins need an airy and light location. The optimal temperatures are between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. Too hot a place on the windowsill will cause the leaves to dry out. Due to the dense foliage, the water requirement is very high, especially in summer. You should check the soil moisture daily and water the plant thoroughly. Otherwise there is a risk that only the upper soil layer will be moistened and that the water will not penetrate to the root ball.

Temperature and light conditions also play an important role during the winter. If the plant is in a dark place, there will be a lack of light. The plant cannot photosynthesize and sheds its leaves. Relocation to another location is recommended as a first aid measure. Usually the bushes regenerate quickly from the loss of leaves and sprout again.


Wire bushes create a nostalgic charm. Its creeping shoots are dark brown in color and shimmer slightly dark red in the light. The bright green glossy leaves form the ideal contrast to the bark. The shrubs are perfect for planting hanging pots.


  • Autumn magic : Develops large leaves and strong shoots. Grows to 50 centimeters high. Suitable for a sunny location.
  • Maori (R) : Creeping to hanging shoots. Conditionally hardy.
  • Muehlenbeckia axillaris: Flat growing ground cover. Small round leaves that change color in autumn. Grows between five and ten centimeters high. Hardy.
  • Muehlenbeckia complexa: ground cover, suitable as a houseplant. Small leaves on wiry branches. Grows to 15 centimeters high. Not hardy.