From Dean Dowd on October 08, 2008 in Landscaping
With the new school season in full gear, the buzz at a recent gathering of gardeners that I attended was all about the wonderful climbing vines at various colleges. Several of the attendees had recently taken children to college for the fall semester, and the ivy-covered walls of venerable brick college buildings launched a lively discussion about the beauty and charm of vine-covered walls.
Climbing vines have graced the exteriors of buildings for centuries, and are especially popular on both sides of entries, draping in soft green archways overhead. They are often seen covering entire sides of brick or stucco homes, or, sometimes, trained to flank a stone chimney wall. Vines of different varieties are popular in all climates.
Here are some favorites, with links to the sources for this and other useful information about climbing vines:
Boston ivy (Parthenosissus tricuspidata) and Virginia creeper (P. quinquefolia) have stem tendrils with touch-sensitive adhesive pads that allow them to stick to almost any surface. Climbers with adhesive pads can attach themselves to the face of a building or the trunk of a tree. If not provided with a vertical support, they will just as happily crawl sideways, attaching themselves to
anything in their path.
Bougainvillea and Climbing Roses
Bougainvillea and climbing or rambling roses are two of the many plants that fall into the scramblers category. These plants have long, flexible stems that may look like vines, but they are unable to climb on their own. Scramblers sometimes have thorns that help them grip neighboring stems, if you want these plants to climb up a trellis, arbor, or pergola, you will need to tack them into place and probably tie them with wire or sturdy string.
This is a native American plant much loved by the hummingbirds and butterflies. Widely adaptable to heat and cold and an especially good choice as a perennial vine for Northern gardeners, its very popular all over California, too. Since they can get quite woody, their weight requires a strong support. Mature specimens make for nice winter interest, although they do require some maintenance pruning to keep them flowering at their best. Flowering can take a few years to start. Orange, red, and yellow flowers can grow to 40 (Zones 5-9)
Wisteria vines make excellent climbers and roofing for garden arbors. You can be sure that the flowering of any successful wisteria vine has been the subject of many a double take from passersby. A stunning bloomer, in spring this climber yields large, drooping clusters of fragrant bluish-purple or while flowers. (Zones 3-9)
This is an old-fashioned vine that everyone remembers from childhood. Easy to grow, it will twine around anything that crosses its path. But they call it morning glory for a reason: the flowers will close in the afternoon heat. Morning glories are a nice plant with slower establishing vines. Will self-seed readily. Variety of colors that grow 10-12 (Annual).