How To Identify Male And Female Bittersweet Vines And How To Protect Them From Insects

Question From: Allenton, Wisconsin, United States
Q: I have a lush bittersweet vines growing on an arbor. 2 questions for you. No one has been able to tell me what a female vine looks like . My vines produce neither flowers or berries. I asked a prominent nursery person in our area. He had no idea. Secondly, I want to inquire what spray I could use to kill whatever insect is chewing on the leaves. I appreciate your kind assistance

A: The flowers are the indicators of sex. Females have a swelling of sorts in the interior and male flowers do not. Since yours is not flowering there is no way of telling what you have. I suggest you make it suffer. Sounds ruff, but non-blooming plants often respond to tough love. So cut it back hard in late winter or very early spring. Water only enough to keep it alive and under no circumstances fertilize it. That means no fertilizer in a five foot radius. Hopefully it will bloom in spring. My recommendation for a pesticide would be AzaMax. It's OMRI listed and pretty much non toxic to all as long as you follow package directions. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy.