How to Grow Dioscorea Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Cinnamon Vine, Yam, and Colic Root

One of the beauty's of the half hardy perennial Dioscorea is its cinnamon fragranced flowers.

These bloom anytime from spring to autumn (variety specific) with small white flowers.

They are climbing plants and have beautiful heart shaped leaves.

These qualities lead to one of the common names for Dioscorea, Cinnamon vine; other names include Chinese Yam.

Dioscorea oppositifolia
Dioscorea oppositifolia - Chinese Yam by Bob Richmond; creative commons.

Dioscorea Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Yam, Cinnamon Vine, Colic Root, Cushcush, Elephant's Foot. Yam: Ornamental; Chinese; Japanese; Wild; White; Purple; Winged; Fourleaf.
Family: Dioscoreaceae.
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial usually grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 80 to 470 inches (200 to 1200 cm).
Native: Tropics and warm temperate regions.

Growing Region: Zones 4 to 10. As a perennial in zones 9 and 10.
Flowers: Spring, summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Inconspicuous green/yellow or small white. Fragrant (cinnamon).
Foliage: Vine/Liana. Forms bulbils. Spiral. Attractive heart-shaped leaves.

Sow Outside: Spacing: 12 to 40 inches (30 to 100 cm).
Seeds: 1/8 inch. Early to mid-autumn.
Tubers: Bury 3 inches (8cm) deep. Plant following the last frost.
Sow Inside: Germination time: three to six weeks. Temperature 72°F (22°C). Seven to eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors three weeks after the last frost.

Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Deep soil. Provide trellis. Occasional feed. Regular watering. In areas of frost bring in tubers over the winter. Propagate: Plant bulbils or by dividing or cutting in spring or autumn.

How to Grow Cinnamon Vine, Elephant's Foot, and Yams (Dioscorea)

Cinnamon vine can be grown from either tubers or seeds. The seeds should be planted at a depth of 3 mm (1/8 th inch) at the end of September or on October, whereas tubers should be buried at a depth of 8 cm (3 inches) following the last frost of spring.

Dioscorea can be grown in either a partially shaded or sunny area of the garden that has good drainage and a deep soil.

Dioscorea elephantipes

Caring for Dioscorea Plants in the Garden

As Dioscorea are climbers they should be provided a trellis to grow upon.

You can grow Cinnamon vine seedlings indoors first, they take about three to six weeks to germinate at 21 to 24 degrees Centigrade.

They should be moved outdoors in the middle of spring. Once growing provide plenty of water.

If you require more plants then cuttings can be took, or the plant can be divided in the autumn.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Dioscorea plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ vine growing guides: How to grow Medeira vine and Rhodochiton plants.