Often overlooked and underused in the garden, vines offer a landscape design element that other plants can’t bring to the table. They can be trained upward on a trellis or arbor; they can scramble along the ground as a groundcover; or they can provide a romantic cottage-garden look that softens the hard edges of trees and shrubs.
Four Outstanding Vines
Barbara Karst Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea ‘Barbara Karst’). This tropical treasure is frost-sensitive, but it’s suitable for any garden as a container plant. (It’s a perennial in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, but if you live outside this range, you can simply move it indoors during the winter.) You’ll have to look closely to see the true flowers, because they’re surrounded by the pink red bracts, which are often called “flowers.” Talk about versatile — this shrubby vine can be grown in a large hanging basket, trained to grow on a trellis or planted around your pool or patio for a profusion of color.
Nelly Moser Clematis (Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’). If your flower preferences include the words dramatic, bold or even outrageous, Nelly Moser Clematis should be on your must-have list. Late-spring to summer blossoms burst into bloom with white stripes marking the center of each pink flower petal. Although clematis vines are the quintessential “mailbox plant,” their versatility extends beyond this design feature. You can create a “living fence” by spacing Nelly Moser Clematis plants along a fence and tying it up as it grows. It’s also a terrific vine to train on an arbor or pergola. A winter-tough perennial, Nelly Moser Clematis is hardy in USDA zones 4-8.
Amethyst Falls Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’). If you have visions of planting wisteria in your yard and watching it strangle everything in its path, it may help to know that Amethyst Falls is an improved cultivar of our native wisteria, which is more restrained in its growth than its Asian wisteria cousins. It’s a fast-growing twining vine, which means that it’ll wind its stems around a support as it climbs upward. It’ll need a strong support system, such as an arbor or pergola, to show off its vigorous growth and pendulous, purplish-lavender flowers. If you want a vine that shades the sun for your sitting area, this is it. USDA plant hardiness zones 5-9.
Peaches and Cream Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum ‘Peaches and Cream’). Although some honeysuckle vines are invasive, Peaches and Cream is not. You’ll flip over the bicolor magenta-pink and white flowers that last over a long season. Be sure to plant this vine where you can revel in the fragrance of its intoxicating honeysuckle-scented flowers. Extremely cold hardy, you can grow Peaches and Cream Honeysuckle as a perennial in USDA plant hardiness zones 4-9.
- Plant all these vines in full sun to maximize their growth and flower production.
- Although all these vines can take the heat, their roots benefit from a 3 to 4 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants.
- After blooming, if you pinch or prune the growing tips, vines will often re-bloom later in the season.
- Pinching or pruning the growing tips also helps vines to form lateral growth, which makes them thicker.
- Use soft ties for vines that need tying up — ones that don’t naturally twine around their support, such as clematis and bougainvillea. For an easy and inexpensive source of ties, cut nylon stockings into short sections!
Take Care of the Visitors
Hummingbirds and butterflies flock to flowering vines, so be careful not to use pesticides that are toxic to these winged visitors.
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