The Dirt

I love my Dutchman’s pipe!

Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

I planted Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla, syn. A. durior, Zones 5-8) on my pergola maybe 6 years ago, having seen it on some arbors in Saratoga Springs, New York, the summer before, as well as on old homesteads in Virginia in my childhood. It’s a beefy perennial vine with large, overlapping, heart-shaped leaves. It’s going gangbusters for me, though I probably should have done some early training to avoid the tangled mess the woody vines have become.

In spring and early summer, the vine blooms with intriguingly odd flowers that obviously account for the plant’s name. There are tons of them, but they don’t jump out at you right away, since they’re tucked in amongst the foliage and aren’t a flashy color. But they’re cool! The only downside is that when they fall from the vines onto my stone patio, they tend to look like the corpses of slugs…

Why aren’t we using this vine more in our gardens? While I’ve always thought of it as a traditional southern vine (it’s native to the S.E. United States), it’s quite happy in my Zone 5-6ish garden, and is doing fine with just afternoon sun. It’s massive when mature, but not aggressive. It’s a steady, reliable woody vine that’ll shade you all summer without any fuss. What more could you ask for? Give it a try!

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  1. GardenGirl09 06/14/2009

    I have ben trying to find this plant at any nursery, I am having no luck , Do they seed and if so would you part with a couple of seeds ?
    Best Regards

  2. EMURetiree 06/15/2009

    I have Dutchman's Pipe as is at least 15 years old and spread over an area of about 40 ft total. It travels over three 8 ft sections of trellis-work, three arches....and just gets more beautiful each year. It is happiest in the area shaded by an oak....and it's really the most beautiful in the shade. It does get more pipes in the sun, however.
    About ten years ago we cut it completely back in the early spring to replace the trellis-work and it came back stronger than ever.
    I have had many, many people ask me what it is, and where it came from. I got it from a nursery now closed that was in Plymouth, MI...Goode's Nursery that specialized in tissue culture of hostas. I have two hostas from their work that never became known nursery plants but I cherish them because they are is "Water Pitcher Gourd" because the flowers are shaped just like the gourd of that name.
    Sorry to ramble!!
    I might add, my Dutchman's Pipe has many shoots that come up as far as 10 ft away from the original base of the plant.

  3. iPlayinDirt 06/16/2009

    Prides Corner Nurseries in Connecticut grows this, I believe in a 5 gallon staked pot. They are wholesale only-but I am sure they could find a local retailer for you if your in the Northeast.

  4. pgraham 06/18/2009

    cool I love to see the native plants used in gardens, for we have so many plants in the united states. I plant nothing but natives. Thanks for sharing this.
    Pamela Graham

  5. bunnyrabbit 06/29/2009

    Will it grow in zone 8-9 Ca?We love unusual and beutiful plants especially vines.There is a grand oak in our back yard ,who might like the company.

  6. Conon1 06/29/2009

    I have liked the look of this unusual vine since I saw it in the Missouri Botanical Gardens a few years ( ).I have asked for it in dozens of nurseries since then, but have been unsucessful in finding it for sale. Most garden center employees have told me that they use to carry it but stopped due to it not being a big seller?? This year I ordered seeds from an web company and received them about a month ago and planted several of the seeds last week. I have at least two locations in my yard that I am going to plant them. The cultivar that I bought is perennial.

    Conon, 6b

  7. brtova 06/30/2009

    I live in western North Carolina where a wild plant called "Smokevine" grows. It's leaves look a lot like this and the vines twist over and around themselves like your picture. The stems are very popular for basket handles. I just looked it up and I think it is dutchman's pipe. Next time I see one in the woods I am going to keep an eye out for its wonderful flower!

  8. user-7006871 06/30/2009

    When I was growing up in the Adirondacks of New York State (zone 3) there was a Dutchman Pipe vine on our porch. It was there when my parents bought the house in 1945. Our father cut it down several times to make repairs to the porch and it grew back bigger and better than ever! If you want a vine that provides shade this is the one to get. I have a friend who has it climbing over her pergola shaded patio and loves it. As for I said it was there when my parents bought the house and when they left nearly twenty years later it was still flourishing.

  9. jangoodwin 06/30/2009

    I'm growing Dutchman's Pipe in the Pacific NW, zone 9. Local nurseries are growing it again, due to revived interest. I have 4 vines, all planted in containers. Two are a variety that produces a red flower. All are doing well, with over a foot of growth since planting in early June. I read conflicting info about planting in sun or shade, so I have them in both places. Moved the full sun plants after a week, due to some burning to a more protected area that still gets 6 hours of full sun daily. In my south facing garden, this plant prefers the partial sun location. Also seems to be quite the butterfly magnet. No blooms yet, but do have many pods coming on.

    If your local nursery does not have, try Logees, or Google for a site. I saw several varieties available on line from Florida growers.

  10. Sarryanna 03/29/2012

    I too loved Dutchman's pipe - at first. It was a great screen on an ugly chain linked fence. Also had perennial sweet peas mixed with it - lovely when blooming. However, it is now coming up EVERYWHERE!! The lawn isn't an issue as it's regularly cut, but don't enjoy sprawling under bushes in adjacent border to keep it from strangling everything in its path. Has really become a nuisance in my SE NH garden.

  11. JoysGarden 03/27/2013

    I bought my vine at Lowe's. I fertilized my plants last week, overspray got on my dp vine and now the leaves are falling off. I planted in the ground about 3moths ago. It had been doing well. It doesn't get much sun in the winter months but will get plenty of sun in summer. What should I do? if anything. Thanks for any help.

  12. Codygirl1 03/29/2013

    I first saw Dutchman's Pipe Vine up near Bolton Landing N.Y. on a front porch and actually stopped and knocked on the door to inquire about the plant. I was told it was an "old fashioned inner city vine " that had been used to provide privacy . Dutchman's Pipe Vine was something I had to grow.

    After inquiring on-line a fellow chat room member sent me a small shoot from her garden in PA. Unfortuately, it never amounted to much and a few months later, by accident, I found a mature vine (about three feet high) at The Martin Viette Nursery in East Norwich , N.Y. right near my home.

    That was about twenty years ago and rest is now history .We have the most beautiful vine imaginable. Initially, it took training and I trained the vine to cover the front and side of the upper part of our front deck . I tied multiple lines of garden string to the upper rail and middle deck rail and then wove the vine up each one. We have complete privacy and actually use this small area as an outdoor room.

    Granted the winter appearance isn't that pretty, but we've woven small Christmas lights throughout and this brightens the appearance during the winter and is somewhat magical during the summer.

    My summer morning ritual is to wake up, make a cup of cup of tea, go out to the front deck climb up on a garden chair and weave and braid the new growth ,which now( takes about two min a day) provides full privacy and has become my pride and joy! Its an avid grower with beautiful large,heart shaped leaves. The flowers are tiny and very interesting, but it's the leaves that impress. It's in full sun and does beautifully .
    I would recommend buying a vine from a grower as the more mature the plant, the faster you will see results.

  13. kdisher 05/12/2013

    Does anyone know if this is the kind of vine that will grow up a masonry wall or would it need some kind of trellis or chicken wire to attach to ? I have a very ugly garage I'd love to cover with this.

  14. user-7007723 07/22/2015


  15. user-7007723 07/22/2015

    A question if I may, what about the offensive odor made by most references to this plant I see on the net? one more if you please how rapidly dos it become established and how rapidly does it grow?

  16. peterfasake 08/06/2015

    Hello my 3rd season with aristolochia durior; have not had one flower, cater-
    pillar or of course flutterby although the plants are seemingly thriving. Any help? Thank you....Peter

  17. peterfasake 08/08/2015

    did a double take when I saw that it was in Bolton Landing that you first saw dp! Me, too! It was
    on the front of a hardware store almost directly opposite the drive into the Sagimore. And I too
    personally inquired @ the plant. That was about in 1998. Small world.

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