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Vines help you grow up!

Plant more vines and enjoy the process of growing up! 

Vines help you grow up!


Want a vertical gardening element to plant against a wall? How about a tall focal point in your garden, or an accent plant that whispers sophistication? Vines help you grow up when vertical garden elements are hard to find. 

Vines can also enhance a barren space in your yard, or cover an eyesore. Some are fast-growing annuals while others are long-lived perennials.

In years past, the mighty, large-flowered clematis reigned supreme, but there are plenty of other vines that should get more notice including small, bell-shaped flowering clematis. The latter often flower more than their larger counterparts, and while clematis aren’t that hard to grow, they can be finicky. I find they like deep, fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny part of the garden. They should be mulched or their roots get too hot. 

For the past 30 years, I’ve fought one native vine tooth and nail, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virginia creeper, but I’ve finally decided to make my peace with it because of its beautiful fall color and berries beloved by birds. I must say I’m amused when I see the variegated form of Virginia creeper, P. quinquefolia ‘Monham’ Star Showers® for sale. With my increased appreciation of natives, I decided Virginia creeper can stay—as if I had a choice! However, I don’t feel the same way about Toxicodendron radicans, eastern poison ivy, and never will.

I love the fancy annual vines even if some, like Ipomoea purpurea, morning glories, produce a lot of seeds and seedlings. From decorative sweet potato vines to those prolific morning glories, ipomoeas are easy and fun to grow. Try dark purple ‘Grandpa Ott’s’ or sky blue ‘Heavenly Blue.’

If you want a glowing night garden, plant I. alba, moonflower vine, which also attracts night-flying moths like the White-Lined Sphinx moth. Score or soak seeds before planting and you’ll have better germination.

American honeysuckles, Lonicera sempervirens, shouldn’t be confused with their invasive Japanese cousin, L. japonica. American natives like trumpet or coral honeysuckle and named cultivars, like ‘Major Wheeler,’ may be nearly scentless, but they won’t take over your property and everyone else’s either. Plus, they attract hummingbirds in droves.

Along with honeysuckles, American native wisteria is much more well mannered and blooms later than Asian varieties, often outwitting late spring freezes. I grow W. frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’ where it twines counterclockwise on a wrought iron trellis gate to my back garden. Long purple panicles hang like a curtain where bumblebees buzz, but don’t bother the passersby. I have another native wisteria, W. macrostachya ‘Kentucky Blue Moon,’ covering a nearby trellis in a walkway. American wisteria is fragrant although not as highly scented as Asian varieties, but it also won’t try to pull down your house. 

If you like the look of invasive Campsis radicans, trumpet vine, try native, Bignonia capreolata, crossvine, instead. They look similar, and crossvine attracts hummingbirds. After a mild winter, crossvine puts on quite a show.

We shouldn’t forget sturdy Dolichos lablab, hyacinth bean, which winds itself all over mailboxes throughout our state. Heart-shaped leaves sport purple blooms which later become decorative 4-inch dark purple pods. Another vine to grow from seed, Vigna caracalla, corkscrew vine, is a simply beauty and heavily scented. It does take a long time to bloom so start seeds indoors or buy plants. Located in Stillwater, Bustani Plant Farm usually has plants of this vine, and many others, for sale in spring. 

Plant more vines and enjoy the process of growing up! OKL Article End