Drought tolerant climbing vines

Care and Maintenance of Climbing Plants

Plant Selection and Maintenance (refer to diagram)

The English ivy (Hedera) and other self-clinging climbers, such as Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) and Virginia creeper (P. quinquefolia), have the advantage that they hardly need any growth supports and require minimal maintenance during the establishment period. Watering is also rarely required. After approx. 5-10 years, it is time for the first trim. During the following years, once the entire greening area is covered – usually up to the eaves – considerable yearly pruning work is required in order to keep eaves and windows free, at least in theory… However, in practice this maintenance is often neglected and problems on the roof are overlooked, until the roofer discovers them…

Hops and annual climbing plants: maintenance focuses predominantly on the soil (watering, fertilising) and on removing the withered shoots in autumn. Overall maintenance remains rather undemanding throughout the years. They are similar to the clematis hybrids, which are usually purchased for one season with the knowledge that these plants will die off and new ones will have to replace them the following year.

Honeysuckle and other twining plants, such as akebia or even the climbing hydrangea, often require a lot of initial care in order to grow. Skimping on maintenance at this stage is not wise and the greening project will likely not survive the first development phase. Well cultivated plants will develop strong shoot growth, which is beneficial in the next establishment phase, but may also become a bit of a nuisance during the maintenance phase. Without regular pruning, large amounts of dead shoots will result, which can accumulate into metre-thick masses of dead wood. Watering is often necessary, or at least helpful, and some hard pruning is required every 3-5 years to allow more light into the plant and to generally rejuvenate it.

Silver Lace Vine (or Russian Vine, Polygonum aubertii): Initial maintenance is minimal to none, but already in the next development phase, considerable pruning measures are required to control the extremely vigorous growth. Watering is hardly needed. Bittersweet behaves similarly, but will require a little more water.

Diarmuid Gavin’s top picks of climbing plants

Climbing plants are the first thing in vertical gardening, they help to melt the architecture of your home into your plot. They soften unsightly features and create a super environment for wildlife. However, they can take a bit of time and patience to get established. In my own garden (right), I planted a series of climbers at the base of cast iron pillars, which support a first floor verandah, four years ago. I used a mix of wisteria, star jasmine, roses and evergreen clematis and now they are beginning to fulfil their potential, winding upwards, creeping along the railings and framing the upstairs windows in glorious foliage and flowers.

High hopes: roses and wisteria clambering over Diarmuid’s verandah

Planning and patience really are the key. Start off by considering what you want the plant to do. Would you go for something like an ivy that is dependable, that will take all sorts of abuse and will grow even in dry areas and won’t be bothered by shade, or do you want something like a beautiful rose to adorn the outside of your cottage? There’s a vast amount of choice – evergreen, deciduous, as well as flowering and fruiting. But the trick is to understand the type of conditions that they love.

Often climbers will be panted at the base of a wall where the concrete and foundations suck in any available water. Be aware of this and remember that a new plant going into the ground is going to be a bit stressed. It’s coming to you from perfect nursery conditions where its every need is tended to and your environment might be in some way inhospitable. So, rather than planting right up against the wall, lead your new plant in on a bamboo cane from about eight inches. Taking time to prepare the soil is important no matter what you are planting – dig in plenty of good organic manure if possible. Water liberally in the first month, especially if you are planting at this time of the year.

Below I have lists of useful plants for height. My favourites include an ivy called Buttercup (with a small, almost golden yellow leaf), lilac wisteria, abutilon (which is more of a wall shrub), and of course that wonderful woodland escapee, honeysuckle.

Climbers for north- and east-facing aspects

Conditions here will be cold and dry in winter, and dry in summer so choose vigorous, deep-rooting plants.

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)

Sweat pea

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

Crimson glory vine (Vitis coignetiae)

Clematis Montana

Hedera species (ivies)

Pink Japanese hydrangea vine (Schizophragma hydranegoides ‘Roseum’)

Climbers for south- and west-facing aspects

Suitable for more tender plants requiring moist and warm conditions.

Kolomikta vine (Actinidia kolomikta)

Golden hops (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’)

Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis)

Evergreen clematis (Clematis armandii)

Potato tree (Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’)

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)

Passionflower (Passiflora caerulea)

Vitis vinifera (grape vine)

Shrubs that can be wall trained


Fremontedendron ‘California Glory’

Flowering quince (Chaenomeles)




Rose ‘zepherine drouhin’

Rose ‘new dawn’

Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasmonoides)

Honeysuckle (Lonicera pericylmenum)

Annual Climbers

Not all climbers take an age to grow. There are some which you plant as seeds or small plants which will rapidly cover a couple of metres, often being smothered in cheerful flowers with wonderful scent. So for instant solutions, why not plan on sowing these selections directly into the ground when the fear of frost has dismissed next spring?

Morning glory heavenly blue (Ipomoea) – absolutely wonderful heart-shaped leaves, and the flowers are glorious blue funnels you want to dive into. Also comes in pink, maroon and white. Closely related to the bindweed but with none of the disadvantages. Young plants can be planted outdoors after frost has gone.

Nasturtium – who wouldn’t want to cover any structure with these bursts of sunshine in shades of orange, red and yellow, some even with stripes! Again luscious leaves which are interesting too and you can eat the flowers and foliage in salads. The seeds are large and easy to handle and they germinate quickly making them an ideal plant to get kids interested in a bit of gardening. Sow outdoors now in situ where you want them to grow.

Sweat pea

Sweet pea – these are everybody’s favourites (above). For a while dismissed as old fashioned, they are the epitome of the English summer garden. The colours are a flower arranger’s dream. Get a mixed pack of seeds, they’ll all match beautifully when you collect them in a hand posy, but their crowning asset has to be their scent in the garden or in the house. You can sow outdoors in situ now or transplant indoor seedlings, avoiding frost.

Weekend Magazine

Best Vines For Hot Gardens: Tips On Growing Drought Tolerant Vines

If you are a gardener living in a hot, arid climate, I’m sure you have researched and/or tried a number of drought-tolerant plant varieties. There are many drought-resistant vines suited for dry gardens. The following discusses some excellent vines for hot gardens.

Why Grow Drought Tolerant Climbing Plants?

Growing drought tolerant vines satisfies several criteria. The most obvious being their need for very little water; they aren’t cactus though, and do require some.

Often hand in hand with lack of water is oppressive heat. Growing drought tolerant vines creates a natural arbor of shade that is often 10 degrees F (5.5 C.) cooler than the surrounding sun-drenched landscape.

Vines that can handle drought can also be planted right up against the house, again lending a curtain of greenery while cooling the inside temperature. Vines for hot gardens also provide wind protection, thus reducing dust, sun glare and reflected heat.

Vines, in general, add an interesting vertical line in the landscape and can act as a divider, barrier or privacy screen. Many vines have gorgeous flowers that add color and aroma. All this without taking up much ground space.

Types of Vines That Can Handle Drought

There are four main types of vines:

  • Twining vines have stems that wrap around any available support.
  • Tendril climbing vines are vines that support themselves via tendrils and side shoots up anything they can grab onto. These and twining types are suited to training up baffles, fences, pipes, trellises, posts or wooden towers.
  • Self-climbing vines, which will attach themselves to rough surfaces like brick, concrete, or stone. These vines have aerial rootlets or adhesive “feet.”
  • Non-climbing shrub vines are the fourth group. They grow long branches with no means of climbing and must be tied and trained by the gardener.

List of Drought Resistant Vines

  • Arizona grape ivy – Arizona grape ivy is hardy to sunset zones 10-13. It is a slow growing deciduous vine that can be trained up walls, fences or trellises. It can become invasive and may need to be pruned to control it. It will freeze to the ground at temps below 20 degrees F. (-6 C.).
  • Bougainvillea – Bougainvillea is a showy bloomer from early summer through fall good for sunset zones 12-21, which requires very little water. It will need to be tied to a support.
  • Honeysuckle – Hardy in sunset zones 9-24, Cape honeysuckle is an evergreen shrubby vine that must be tied to supporting structures to develop a true vine habit. It is native to Africa and has vibrant orange-red tubular flowers.
  • Carolina jessamine – Carolina jessamine uses twining stems to clamber up fences, trellises or walls. It can get very top heavy and should be pruned by 1/3 each year. All parts of the plant are poisonous.
  • Cat’s claw vine – Cat’s claw vine (sunset zones 8-24) is an aggressive, rapidly growing vine that attaches itself to most any surface with claw-like tendrils. It has yellow two-inch (5 cm.), trumpet-shaped flowers in the spring and is great if you have a large vertical surface needing cover.
  • Creeping fig – Creeping fig needs a medium amount of water and is an evergreen vine useful in sunset zones 8-24 attaching itself via aerial rootlets.
  • Crossvine – Crossvine is a self-climbing vine hardy to sunset zones 4-9. An evergreen, foliage turns reddish-purple in the fall.
  • Desert snapdragon – Desert snapdragon vine climbs via tendrils and is hardy to sunset zone 12. It is a smaller herbaceous vine capable of covering about a 3 foot (1 m.) area. It is ideal in hanging baskets or small trellises or gates.
  • Grape – Grape grows rapidly, is deciduous with edible fruit, and is hardy to sunset zones 1-22.
  • Hacienda creeper – Hacienda creeper (zones 10-12) looks much akin to the Virginia creeper but with smaller leaves. It does best with some protection from the hot afternoon sun in the summer.
  • Jasmine – Primrose jasmine (zone 12) has a sprawling evergreen shrubby habit that can be trained to a trellis to show off its 1-2 inch (2.5-5 cm.) double yellow blooms. Star jasmine is hardy through zones 8-24 and a gorgeous evergreen with thick, leathery leaves and bunches of star-shaped, aromatic white flowers.
  • Lady Bank’s rose – Lady Bank’s rose is a non-climbing rose needs some shade as well during the heat of the day and is hardy to sunset zones 10-12. It can rapidly cover areas of 20 feet (6 m.) or more in a profusion of blossoms.
  • Mexican flame vine – Mexican flame vine is hardy to zone 12 and also needs very little water. Butterflies love its orange-red clusters of flowers and it is resistant to pests and diseases.
  • Silver lace vine – Silver lace vine is hardy to zones 10-12 and a deciduous twining vine with, as its name suggests, grayish foliage bearing huge masses of delicate white blooms in summer and fall.
  • Trumpet vine – Pink Trumpet vine is fast growing and easy to grow and, once established, tolerates heat, sun, wind and drought as well as light frost. Violet trumpet vine is good to zones 9 and 12-28, has interesting leaves and trumpet-shaped lavender flowers with purple veins.
  • Yucca vine – Also called yellow morning glory, this fast growing vine dies back at 32 degrees F. (0 C.) but is very drought tolerant. Use in sunset zones 12-24.
  • Wisteria – Wisteria is long living, tolerates alkaline soils and needs little water with a reward of vast swaths of lilac, white, blue or pink blossoms in early summer.

This list is not a comprehensive listing of all drought tolerant climbing plants but meant to be a starting point. There are also a number of annual vines suited to growing in dry climates such as:

  • Scarlet Runner bean
  • Hyacinth bean
  • Cup and Saucer vine
  • Sweet Peas
  • Black-eyed Susan vine
  • Ornamental gourds

California Vines: 8 Drought Tolerant Native Vines for Southern California Gardens


A beautiful vine adds visual interest to an outdoor living space, but they actually have a list of benefits that is longer than most homeowners realize.

In addition to pretty flowers that serve as pollen sources for birds and bees while, the vines’ sometimes dense mats provide shelter for nests and other wildlife.

Not to mention, vines draw the eye upward while also covering up unsightly vertical spaces in our yards. Need to liven up a bare area or hide a fence? A vine can be a perfect solution with a little bit of care.

Since water-wise gardening is a priority for Southern California residents, we’ve identified eight native vines to California for consideration. There aren’t a lot of native vines to choose from, but the options we have can be good ones in the right applications.

1. Chaparral Clematis (Clematis lasiantha)

Pictured above, Chaparral Clematis is a deciduous vine with showy cream flowers the bloom in the spring though female plants maintain a puff-like flower even after the foliage browns during the summer. This vine can grows quickly up to 20′ tall and wide which makes it a great option for covering fences quickly. Like most native vines it prefers shaded roots and sun on its leaves.

Chaparral Clematis grows well on the coast from Baja through Northern California and tolerates sand and clay soil.

2. California Dutchman’s Pipe or Pipe Vine (Aristolochia californica)

The 1″, purple-striped flower on this vine may be a little crazy looking but this plant provides important benefits to the ecosystem. It will grow like a carpet on the ground or climb up to a length of 20′ and does well in conditions absent of proper drainage and areas with flooding. The plant is native to Northern California but does grow in Southern California. It’s one of the many vines on display at the San Diego Zoo.

This unusual-looking vine is perfect for a butterfly garden. The red spotted caterpillar eats the vine’s leaves and uses the flowers as place to undergo metamorphosis. The plant has a toxin that when eaten prevents the caterpillars from also being eaten by predators.

The larvae of the California pipevine swallowtail (native to Northern California) relies on the California Pipe Vine as its only food source.

3. California Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula)

Another deciduous vine, pink honeysuckle can handle anything from full sun to shade. Pretty pink flowers grow at the end of stems that attract hummingbirds among others. The vine bears a small fruit that is edible but bitter and grows also up to 20′ tall. Homeowners also report that it’s deer resistant.

Fun fact: Since the stems are hollow, pink honeysuckle was used as smoking pipes by the Pomo people (an indigenous people of California).

4. Western White Clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia)

This pretty white flower appears in late summer and rests on a deciduous vine that prefers wet soil in a sunny spot of the first year or so until it becomes drought tolerant and almost self-sufficient. You don’t want to plant this in areas of high traffic as it can cause minor skin irritations and because of this, deer stay away from it. Expect it to grow up to 16′ and tolerate a number of soil conditions.

Fun fact: This plant was used as a substitute for pepper (which was quite expensive at the time) by pioneers of America’s Old West. And, Native Americans used it to treat migraines, eczema and other skin irritations as well as to ward off evil spirits.

5. California Morning Glory (Calystegia macrostegia)

This pretty morning glory is native to Baja, Southern California and the Channel Islands. California Morning Glory grows like a larger groundcover or climbs depending on the environment. Either way it can reach up to 27′. It prefers full sun near the coast and morning sun/afternoon shade in warmer inland climates. The seeds can be toxic. This twining vine is often used when xeriscaping and the blooms last nearly all year round. It helps to wash it down in order to prevent the foliage from drying out in the summer.

6. Pacific False Bindweed (Calystegia purpurata)

Pacific False Bindweed is also a species of Morning Glory with growing preferences the same as the California Morning Glory—full sun on the coast and afternoon sun inland. The flowers on this vine are much showier with glossy green leaves. It does extremely well on trellises, with its slender stems growing up to 10′ tall and wide.

7. San Diego Sweetpea (Lathyrus laetiflorus alefeldii)

It’s not a terribly common vine, but worth a mention since it’s actually native to San Diego as the name implies. This sweetpea has fragrant purple blooms and can grow to about 10′ high and 3′ wide. It’s usually found under oak trees in the wild and prefers only partial sun. San Diego Sweetpea is often called Canyon Pea or Pacific Pea.

8. Pink Flowered Currant (Ribes sanguineum glutinosum)

Pink Flowered Currant is a shrub that vines with showy pink, scented flowers in late winter. It likes shade and partial shade, growing to about 6′ tall and wide. The fruit is edible and once established, this currant is extremely drought tolerant and hearty in coastal areas.

How to Get Your Vine to Climb

Your new vine will need some guidance once planted because if the growing ends can’t find something to cling on to, they’ll stop growing completely. While some vines grow beautifully up lattices, others prefer thinner support such twine. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to use twine or netting in addition to a trellis for climbing vines such as clematis.

Depending on the type of vine, you may have to help it by trussing or tying it on to the support structure as it grows. Fishing line and twine work well for this. You’ll likely need to research the best time of year to prune your vine, too. Ask your local nursery for tips.

Your Turn…

Which California native vines are growing in your yard?

Photo credits: Clematis lasiantha, Flickr/NatureShutterbug; Lonicera hispidula, Flickr/briweldo; Lonicera hispidula, Flickr/docentjoyce; Clematis ligusticifolia, Flickr/archesnps; Calystegia macrostegia, Flickr/jkirkhart35; Calystegia purpurata, Flickr/tomhilton; Ribes sanguineum glutinosum, Flickr/briweldon. All photos are Creative Commons 2.0 with no modifications made.

Welcoming, vibrant color for shady spots in your Phoenix landscaping from evergreen Purple Lilac Vine. There are many plants, like this lovely vine, that will take full sun will be more productive at flowering and even bearing fruit if they have some shady protection from the blistering afternoon summer sun here in Arizona.

The most attractive vines for foliage and blooming will be those that prefer light to medium shade. When it comes to true Xeriscape plants that vine and do well in the shade you will want to use flowering Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans). Depending on the selection, Trumpet Vine can bloom in soft melon to vibrant flaming red accented orange. Just as in most regions of the country, Phoenix landscaping plants that like a shadier situation do require consistent moisture.

Don’t despair, this is easily provided without you needing to remember to keep them moist with automatic drip irrigation. For moister soil and vibrant orange blooms in light shade, Cape Jasmine (Tecoma capensis) is a rambling vine that looks gorgeous cascading over walls. It is also useful for screening and will tolerate the sun so is a great candidate for creating shade and privacy beneath your patio ramada shade structure. Cape Jasmine is somewhat drought tolerant, once established in your Arizona landscaping.

Some of the most handsome flowering vines for your Phoenix courtyard walls or other shaded areas give you the choice of some really wonderful blooms and even lovely scents. For purples and lavender colored blooming, take a look at Purple Vine Lilac (Hardenbergia violacea). In bloom showy sprays of light grape hued flowers add an excellent showiness to the evergreen foliage. This particular vine does well in shade and tolerates drier conditions than many climbing plants well suited for shade plantings in your Arizona yard.

For part shade landscape design in Phoenix, the vibrant yellow blooming Cat Claw Vine (Macfadyena unguis-cati) will create quite a show rambling along and spilling over courtyard walls or trellises. While drought tolerant, you will be far more please with the lush, shiny evergreen foliage with the addition of drip irrigation. There are other plants that can be successfully grown in light shade for climbing walls in Arizona landscaping, but the rest of them are not as hardy as these selections are.

A garden seat in early summer covered with fragrant climbing pink roses is a lovely haven. Roses, especially David Austen English Roses, grow vigorously in desert climates. But–alas–they do need regular watering. (For more details about growing roses in a desert climate, go here.)

How refreshing it is to sit under an arbor on a hot summer morning under a canopy of leafy vines! And if these vines produce gorgeous, fragrant flowers or delicious grapes as well as cooling shade– well, all the better. You may, in fact, find that the temperature under a shady arbor is about 10 degrees F. cooler than sunny areas of your garden.

Here are a few vines and climbers that thrive in hot dry gardens:

The Pink Trumpet Vine (Podranea ricasoliana) is a South African native that loves the sun and heat. It grows slowly at first and must be tied to the arbor or trellis. But as it grows older its growth speeds up. Needs moderate water.

The Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans), left, from the eastern U.S. is a self-attaching vine with bright yellow and orange blossoms. This vine can grow as much 40 feet in one year! Because it is such a vigorous grower and can become invasive, it is best planted in a large container beside the trellis or arbor. It is tolerant of a variety of soil conditions and of heat and cold. Needs moderate water in summer.

Hall’s Honeysuckle (Loncera japonica) is another vine with trumpet shaped flowers that does very well in the desert. Like the others we have already listed, it grows fast, fast, fast. It can be invasive, but its fragrance is heavenly in the Spring and early Summer! Tolerates poor soil conditions, hot weather, and needs little to moderate water. It should be cut back in winter.

Clematis (Clematis Jackmanii), right. With proper care the fast-growing Clematis will grow in a hot, dry climate. Plant it by a trellis in a very sheltered corner and keep the roots cool. Tip: place a large flat rock or piece of tile over the root zone so the soil beneath does not become hot. Needs ample water. In winter it may look dead, but it is not, as Spring weather will prove.

Plant Cat’s Claw (Macfadyena unguis-cati) and stand back! This vine will grow up and over a three story building in no time. It self-attaches, even to sizzling hot walls, to create a tracery of delicate green vines and leaves. Yellow flowers appear in the Spring during a short blooming season. This Central American native tolerates drought extremely well but it can be very invasive and difficult to eradicate once it is established. You would be wise to choose another climber instead of this one.

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Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violacea), left, is one of our personal favorites because it blooms in late Winter to early Spring — which is Summer and early Fall in its native Australia. Lovely purple flowers — almost wisteria-like– announce that Spring is coming. Needs moderate water, partial shade and a trellis to climb on. (For more information about Australian plants and trees, read our January 2004 newsletter.)

Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) is among the very best climbing plants to use on pergolas and arbors in hot, dry climates. This South African native needs little water to maintain its luxurious growth all summer long. And grow it does — climbing to as much as 25 feet in one season! Because it is both beautiful and a sun-lover, wholesale nurseries have developed new hybrids with a variety of yellows and orange blossoms. New growth may suffer damage in cold winters, but will come back in Spring. Will need to be tied to arbor, initially. It can also be grown as a shrub.

Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) is long-lived and produces impressive amounts of blooms in lilac, white, blue, and lavender-pink in early summer. Better yet, it needs only moderate water and tolerates alkaline soil. You may have to add chelated iron if the plant develops chlorosis, a condition where the leaves turn yellow but the veins stay green. Wisteria needs frequent pruning to train into shape, but not much fertilizer. How long-lived is it? One wisteria plant in Sierra Madre, California is over 100 years old and actually has a festival celebrating it every Spring.

Bougainvillea grows beautifully in the warm-winter areas providing summer-long brilliant color in reds, pinks, golds and oranges. Can be grown as an annual in areas where winter temperatures fall below 30 F. New shrub forms suitable for planters are now available. Low water usage once established. Note: Take special care not to disturb the roots when you plant bougainvillea: the root ball is easily damaged and the damage will kill the plant.

Install Grapes (Vitis Vinifera) at your arbor and you can have your shade and great food, too! Several varieties grow well in a hot, dry climate, including the ‘Thompson Seedless’, ‘Golden Muscat’ and the ‘Alden’. The ‘Golden Muscat’ needs some shade because its leaves will sunburn.
(See more photos of this garden in Nevada, here.)

Grape plants require strategic pruning and constant soil moisture in the Spring to produce ample fruit. They are, however, drought tolerant if producing an abundance of grapes is not your goal. Gravelly, fast draining soil is important. For more about grapes suitable for your garden, visit your local nursery or go on a wine-sampling road trip to the commercial wineries in locations from Southern Arizona to Southern Nevada.

Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis) can be either a ground cover or vigorous climbing vine — or both. It is a fast grower that will climb up and over anything in its way. While it needs little water once established, this native of North Africa and the Canary Islands needs some shade in the afternoon; its large dark green leaves may sunburn.

The more delicate English ivy (Hedera helix) is generally more suitable for hanging planters or patio pots than for installation in the ground. One English ivy cultivar, however, the ‘Baltica’ is fairly hardy. Its small white-vein leaves turn a purplish hue in cold weather.

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Betty Montgomery: Vines, climbers for your garden

Looking for a new twist to your garden? How about adding a vine or two to add a new dimension. You can choose an annual vine, a perennial vine or an evergreen vine or climber. A climber will soften or hide a chain-link fence, covers a wall or climbs a tree. It can provide shade when over a pergola or privacy to a screen porch. Vines add a wonderful vertical element to any garden.

Growing vertically will give you more growing space since they take up very little ground area, something that is precious in many yards. They can give you a spectacular show that will delight any visitor to your garden with the clever ways to get these plants to grow.

I have seen vines all my life. As a child, I remember seeing them on chain-link fences, on arbors or over the front porches. However, it was not until I visited a garden called Ninfa that I really became fascinated with vines. They were very clever with the way they were used. They took small- to medium-sized trees and planted climbing roses, clematis and other vines beside the tree. The tree would become the host to the vine and bloom at a time different from the time that the tree generally bloomed. The vine would bring color to the tree when the tree has passed its blooming cycle. It made Ninfa burst with the color seeing all these vines flowering over ruins, bridges and in trees.

There are an abundance of uses for vines. You can have a climber scurry up any vertical object you want, as long as you provide some support if you choose a climber that does not have “tendrils” for it to use to self attach. You can also have a vine scamper over top of shrubs in a perennial border.

Some climbers, like passion flowers, use tendrils to wrap themselves around a nearby support, some are self-clingers like a climbing hydrangea that adhere unaided to walls and there are ramblers like roses, that need some support to continue climbing.

When choosing your vine, you will have to make a few choices. You will need to decide the location where it will be, a sunny or a shady area. Then think if you want a perennial evergreen vine or a deciduous vine that could be an annual or perennial.

You might want more than one vine. These are things you need to know before you go shopping for the right vine for your location. (Or you could be like me and find a fabulous vine and then find a location — not the right way to go.)

Annual vines

Black-eyed Susans are annual climbers that grow 6 feet or more and produce yellow, orange, white or apricot blooms through the summer. They are quite easy to grow and are cheery looking, resembling their perennial namesake.

Nasturtium offers jewel-toned flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow and apricot. I have never eaten one but the blooms are edible and often used to decorate plates of food. They like poor soil and if you treat them too well, they will give you leaves and not flowers. Painter Claude Monet made them famous in his spectacular garden.

Morning glories are quite fast growing vines and the flowers on these can be quite showy in a sunny spot. The vines can climb to 15 feet and will brighten any morning with its cheerful flowers.

Moonflowers are an interesting choice with their fragrant white flowers that open at night. These are annuals for us but can be a perennial in warm areas.

Passion flowers, a native that has a tropical look, have flowers that are vividly colorful and beautiful. Growing up in eastern North Carolina, I loved these flowers and had fun bursting the seed-pods that were the size of a small lemon. There are many different hybrids today but the blue one that I knew as a child is my favorite.

One of the most popular and showy plants is the Mandevilla or rocktrumpet. It is a robust tropical vine which has bold flowers that are usually pink but there is a red and a white variety, too. These plants, as well as star jasmine, can survive winter in pots inside but they are not meant for areas with extreme cold. Star jasmine can take more cold but does best in a more protected spot in zone 7 or colder.

Perennial vines

When it comes to climbers, clematis is considered the queen of vines. There are a plethora of ones available. They come in a wide choice of colors and shapes. Some have a large flower and some have bell shaped flowers. They come in red, blue, white, pink and a variety of other colors. Some bloom in the spring and some bloom in the fall. Some are about 4 feet in length and others grow to 25 feet.

Carolina jasmine, the state flower of South Carolina, is a lovely vine that blooms in the spring with delicate golden yellow flowers. The glossy green foliage stays on the vine all year. It can be aggressive but with a little pruning, you can keep it looking nice and neat on your lamppost, mailbox or where ever you choose.

Trumpet vine is another native that is fast growing and easy to grow. When the summertime comes along, a burst of orange, red or yellow flowers brighten up any spot. It is a great vine for attracting hummingbirds.

Honeysuckle is a charming semi-evergreen native with coral trumpet flowers that hummingbirds adore. It is not the one that is invasive but a cultivar that is lovely and delicate. There are several hybrids that have been developed.

Clematis armandii is an evergreen vine for warmer areas of the country. The elongated leaves are attractive all year and in the spring, white flowers appear that are quite fragrant.

Smilax is quite well known in the southern U.S. It has handsome evergreen leaves that look beautiful in any flower arrangement as well as adorning a mantle at Christmas. It is known for its use in decorating more than being grown for flowers.

The use of vines is endless and there are many exquisite vines I have not mentioned. Your garden centers have lots of vines waiting for you to buy and they will tell you the specifics of planting them. I hope you will find them fun to grow as I have.

— Betty Montgomery, a master gardener and author of a Four Season Southern Garden, can be reached at [email protected]

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