30 March 2011

Take your garden to new heights with vines

Vines and climbers can change a garden scene in a matter of weeks if the gardener puts the right plant in the right place. Added summer privacy, shade, color, fragrance and beautification are just some of the reasons to select a vine for your garden. In addition, many vines provide fruit or vegetables as well as attracting birds and butterflies.


The good news about climbers is that they are vigorous; since they usually have good air circulation where they grow, they rarely contract diseases. And for gardeners with a small space, the vertical growth can add considerable beauty without using much ground space.

There are a few key considerations for making the best choice.

Shade or sun – A plant that needs full sun will suffer in the shade and will not bloom very well. A shade loving plant such as a climbing hydrangea will be burned by the sun no matter how much water it receives.

Annual or perennial – Some beautiful vines and climbers have to be planted every year from seed. But, summer gardens would be disappointing without any Morning Glory, Moonflower or Hyacinth Bean vines.

Some gardeners prefer perennial vines such as Wisteria, Coral Honeysuckle and Passionflower because they are planted once and last several years.

Rate of growth – If you need a quickly growing vine to hide an eyesore such as a wood pile, there are perennial vines like Hops that grow 20 feet in one season and annual vines such as gourds and winter squash that will cover almost anything in sight over the course of a summer.

Climbing method is important because if you aren’t planting the vine on a pile of garden waste that it can climb, you will have to provide structure. Also, strong vines such as Boston Ivy can cause damage to a brick or wood wall.


Grapes on wires and arbor
 Grape and Passionflower vines have to be attached to their support wires by the grower until their stem tendrils grow to hold them in place.


Vines with leaf tendrils such as peas and Cup-and-Saucer vine just need a supporting structure nearby, such as bird netting or a chain link fence.

Lacking tendrils, tropical Mandevilla will twine its stems around the support structure.

Clinging vines climb using tendrils with adhesive tips to attach to surfaces. Some, like Wintercreeper, have small aerial rootlets on the stems that they use to cling to crevices or structures.

Potato vines can scramble over empty ground, cascade over the sides of a large pot or be trained to climb a pergola. Silver Lace Vine is a twining vine that will grow up to 35-feet in one season.



Hops vine planted on the south side of an old tool shed

Other considerations: Bougainvillea and roses have thorns; Wisteria, Hops and Crossvine produce suckers that have to be thinned every year. Climbing Hydrangeas take three years to become beautiful specimens.


Feathery Cypress Vine is ideal for a less-than-sturdy growing surface that you want to cover for the summer. There are 400 varieties of ivy to choose from if the available climbing surface is durable enough to carry their weight.

Wintercreeper is evergreen and comes in dozens of combinations of green and beige/white. A Clematis vine will grow on a stump, providing a month of flowers. Sun-loving Plumbago gives a season of light blue flowers.

Edibles always make a good choice when you just want a summertime annual covering. Gourds, cucumbers, melons, peas, pole beans, pumpkins and Scarlet Runner Beans are all beautiful.

Scented flowers add a lot to a summer landscape, including pollinating insects. Possibilities include: Jasmine, Moonflower, Honeysuckle, Sweet pea, Wisteria, Five-leaf akebia, roses and Silver Vine.


Purple Hyacinth Bean Vines planted at the base of a temporary support structure
Take your garden design to new heights by including vines this year.

1 comment:

Mrs. C said...

I'm looking for a good vine, thanks for the info!