Looking to add 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, cover a wall, or climb 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 vines 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.
I have been interested in vines since my childhood when I remember seeing some morning glories on a chain-link fence on my walk to school. However, it was not until I visited a garden called Ninfa in Italy that I really became fascinated with vines. The gardeners at Ninfa were very clever with the way they let the vines grow. 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 had passed its blooming cycle. It made Ninfa burst with color seeing all these flowering vines scampering up trees or across the top of an old ruin.
There is an abundance of uses for vines and with your creative mind, you can think of others. You can have a climber scurry up any vertical object you want as long as you provide some support. If you happen to choose a climber that does not have “tendrils,” then you will need to tie it in place as it makes its way up the support. You can also have a vine scamper over the top of shrubs on a perennial border.
Some climbers like passionflowers, use tendrils to wrap themselves around a nearby support, some are self-clingers like climbing hydrangea that adheres unaided to walls or trees. There is also a group called ramblers. These are plants like roses that need some support to continue to climb.
Choosing your vine
When choosing your vine, you will have to make a few choices.
You will need to decide the location where you plan to plant the vine.
Does the vine take sun or shade?
Then think if you want a perennial evergreen vine or a deciduous vine that loses its leaves in winter.
Are you looking for an annual or perennial climber? And, if you want it thick, 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.)
Black-Eyed Susans are annual climbers that 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.
If you are looking for a fast-growing vine, Morning Glories will do just that. The flowers 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 noted for fragrance and for the fact that they open at night with a white bloom. 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 would look for them each summer.
The most popular and showy plant is the Mandevilla. It is a robust tropical vine that has bold flowers that are usually pink but there is a red and a white variety too. These plants, as well as Confederate jasmine, can overwinter in pots inside if you live in cooler areas.
The state flower of South Carolina, is Carolina jasmine, an attractive vine that blooms in the spring with delicate golden yellow flowers. The glossy green foliage stays on the vine all year making a nice vine to be where it is viewed all year. It can be aggressive but with a little pruning, you can keep it looking nice and neat on your lamppost, mailbox or wherever you choose.
The native Trumpet vine is a fast grower that is easy to grow. When the summertime comes along, a burst of orange, red, or yellow flowers brightens up any spot. It is a great vine for attracting hummingbirds.
When it comes to climbers, Clematis is considered the ‘queen of vines.’ There is a plethora of Clematis available. They come in a wide choice of colors and shapes. Some have a large, showy flower and some have dainty little bell-shaped flowers. They come in red, blue, white, pink and all colors in between. Some bloom in the spring and others bloom in the fall. Some have large flowers and others have thousands of tiny flowers. Some are about four feet in length and others grow to 25 feet.
Clematis are long-lived and do not like to be moved. You can find clematis that you cut to the ground each year and others that you only cut out dead wood. There is even one called Clematis armandii that is evergreen and looks wonderful planted along the side of a porch where you can enjoy the divine fragrance when in bloom.
Clematis like their heads in the sun and their feet in the shade so plant them in full sun.
Springtime is the best time to plant this “queen of vines” and with clematis, you have to have some patience. They bloom best the second year and then going forward, they will reward you with years and years of glory.
No matter what vines you decide to plant, vines give you that added height that makes a garden pop. 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 for planting.
Betty Montgomery is a master gardener and author of “Hydrangeas: How To Grow, Cultivate & Enjoy,” and “A Four-Season Southern Garden.” She can be reached at email@example.com.