In the world of perennials, herbaceous shrubs, and trees, there is another fast growing category of plants known as vines and trailing plants. The species of plants typically grow and climb by extending tendrils, which can cover fences, arbors, and trellises, and in most cases in a very short period of time! Used to soften hardscapes such as fences and walls plus other hard to disguise features in your landscape, this group of plants offer the home gardener and landscaper some very unique opportunities. Varieties within this wonderful family of plants have something to offer for almost any garden area as well as special and unique situations. Many have spectacular flowers as well as intoxicating fragrance at given times of the season, while others offer dramatic autumn colors in foliage and berries. There are varieties that work in hot sunny locations as well as difficult shady areas. All will grow well in most garden beds and many will do well simply in containers climbing up a decorative obelisk. Combine the aspect that these plants can also fit into areas no others can and you have got an invaluable species just waiting to fill you wants, needs and wishes. Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities just waiting to be discovered!
Doug’s Twining vining hardy plant picks:
Honeysuckle: This group of vining plants is one of my favorites due to its exotic dramatic blossom display. Combine that with intoxicating fragrance from most of the species and you have an instant winner. In addition, they are sure to attract droves of fascinating fast flying hummingbirds. This family of plants has been a part of rural America for years, rambling around old homesteads, rock fences and walls.
Clematis: This massive family of plants can sometimes be a little tricky to establish, but once you have seen the dramatic display of an established vine you will never be able to sleep until you have one in your very own backyard. Most of the small flowering varieties are followed in bloom by unusual seed pods. Many of the large flowering types (some over six inches across) will have you thinking you are in the tropics, not the high desert location we call home.
Silverlace: This fantastic vine not only grows very fast, but will prevail in sunny dry locations as well as difficult shady places. Dramatic wedding type sprays of white flowers season long will be followed by vibrant orange and red fall foliage.
Virginia creeper: This is a great vine for sun or shade and certainly wins the blue ribbon for the most explosive red color in the fall. Many opt to plant this at the base of a dead juniper tree and watch the skeleton come back to life….. In a hurry. If you are lucky you might even find a garden center that has a variegated leaf variety for additional charm.
Hops: This vine has got to be the fastest growing selection that garden centers will offer. If not the first year the second year will cover your trellis in record time beating all other vine species, “hands down”. Hops are also a favorite of home brew folks as well as local neighborhood bread bakers.
Wisteria: This plant is certainly very sought after due to its spectacular display of hanging grape like blooms, but I must say it is a tough one to establish much less get to bloom. There are many varieties of this plant family, but you must make sure you get the ones that are hardy for our cold climate! Trusted garden center employees will ensure you of proper selection.
Passion Vines: This is another vine that will surely tackle your sense of patience in regards to establishment in your garden. Some gardeners have been unable to over-winter this unbelievable vine. If however you have ever seen one of these plants in bloom you will probably never give up trying to get it to grow! The intricate bloom design will leave you with a sense of “I can’t believe it is real”!
Akebia: A fast growing deciduous vine with very fragrant blooms and very curious looking fruit. The foliage possesses a unique velvety look quite different from other plants. If un-trellised this vine would also make a fast growing groundcover.
Climbing Hydrangea: This could be one of the most spectacular vines a gardener could grow. With large (6”-8”) white creamy blooms this perennial vine is a sure show stopper. Slow to establish but well worth the effort, this vine will establish a little wow factor in your garden when observed by your special backyard guests!
Annual Vine Species (These are selections that usually have to be replanted every season. They only come back in memory!!!
Sweet Peas: A favorite of mine that is perfect for our many times cool climate. Fast to grow from seed or garden center starts, there are many varieties to choose from. Most are unforgettably fragrant adding a special allure to selected planting areas. This vine is a must for our area. Fast, colorful, fragrant and fabulous.
Morning Glory: Some consider this as an invasive species but for our cold climate area it is a natural. Fast growing, with attractive foliage (some are even variegated) this is truly a spectacular velvety dazzling species.
Black-eyed Susan’s: This vine can grow faster than a rabbit sprinting through the sagebrush and will light up a trellis or pergola with bright yellow and black blossoms the entire summer season once it gets started. This is a fun and easy backyard favorite.
Other garden center selections with GREAT climbing capabilities would be the likes of Grapes and Roses. Grape vines are currently the rage with many folks as their fruit and foliage add a special class to the backyard arbor as well as a wonderful canopy of shade as the large leafed foliage and clusters if fruit drape over the outdoor dinning pergola. Climbing roses on the other hand have been a standby in yards and gardens for years. Not necessarily a true vine but a plant with vigorous upright growth that will put the “wow” factor on any arbor or trellis with their spectacular show of colorful fragrant flowers.
In conclusion I can only say one thing, now is the time to get planting, considering that you are now well versed on the ins and outs of vining plants as well as selected varieties that will serve your needs. As always, make sure you pay strict attention to the planting site as well as soil preparation! Oversized planting holes, deeply amended with manure free organic compost, then topped off with 6 to 12 cups of a granular blended fertilizer such as our “Cold Climate” will have you smiling as you watch your plantings explode with color, fragrance, and cool foliage! Happy planting and I hope you enjoy your newfound growing friends!