Ten Easy Vines for the Home Gardener
The vines showcased in the article are not an exhaustive list, but a variety of easy, low-maintenance annual and perennial plants geared toward the casual gardener.
Vines do a number of things for your landscape:
- Provide Shade
- Provide Privacy
- Attract Wildlife
- Soften the look of a fence, arbor or pergola
- Provide interesting textures and/or flowers
- Control erosion
- Vines, like Ivy, grow well under trees where grass won't grow
- Some vines do double duty by providing flowers and edible fruits/vegetables
- To disguise a mailbox post or lamp post
Black Eyed Susan Vine: Not a True Black Eyed Susan
Not to be confused with the perennial plant Rudbeckia, Black Eyed Susan (Thunbergia) vine is a fast-growing annual vine in most locations. They are only considered perennial in Zones 10 to 11. It prefers full sun and can climb 6 to 8 feet. It comes in bloom shades of white, yellow and orange and blooms all summer through fall. It isn't fussy about soil conditions and even does well in containers. Sow the seeds after your last frost date or propagate via cuttings from a neighbor's plant.
Do you include vining plants in your landscape?
Irish Ivy (Hedera Libernica)
Irish Ivy and English Ivy are often confused with one another. Irish Ivy has broader leaves and the English Ivy has narrow, holly-like leaves that are sometimes variegated with white streaks. Both are aggressive climbers and spreaders.
Even though they are considered invasive in some areas, Ivy's still have their place in certain applications. They are great naturalizers for slopes and difficult spots, such as under trees where grass struggles to grow.
They grow from cuttings or starts with very little effort in part shade to full sun.
These beautiful perennial vines are not aggressive at all and grow from Zones 4 through 9. They prefer Full sun to part shade; keeping the roots shaded will help Clematis perform it's best.
Depending on the variety, they will climb from 4 feet to 30 feet. Bloom colors range from purple, pink, white, red and blue with various intensities. They bloom in late spring through early summer for most varieties, although some are bred to start their blooming in the late summer and early fall. Some varieties are very fragrant. Grow from plant starts purchased from your local garden center.
Very fragrant and attracts Hummingbirds, Honeysuckle is a perennial vine in Zones 4 through 9. It does best in full sun and produces small, trumpet-shaped flower clusters in colors from red, pink and white that bloom all summer long.
A very vigorous climber, Honeysuckle can grow to 25 feet. I've never propagated Honeysuckle from seed, but I know it is possible. The preferred method is to take cuttings from another plant. They root easily. You can also purchase starts from your local garden center for a head start.
Scarlet Runner Beans
Both beautiful and edible, this Native American bean produces bright red-orange flowers, followed by edible green beans. They enjoy fairly cool weather, so sow the seeds in spring 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date for your area.
They will continue to grow throughout the summer, however in very hot weather will slow down the production of beans temporarily until temperatures cool off again in early fall.
These beautiful vines do best in full sun and will climb to a height of 10 feet, so make sure you give them a trellis for support.
Pick the beans when they are 6 inches long or less for snap beans, or let the pod mature and harvest the bean seeds for use fresh or dried.
A very fragrant climber with that unmistakable Jasmine fragrance, this perennial in zones 6 through 10 climbs 15 feet high with white flowers.
It does best in part to full sun locations. Plant in an area that you can thoroughly enjoy its heavenly scent. Pergolas, along walkways or fences are perfect for this.
It grows well from clippings or purchase plants from your local nursery.
Trumpet Vine (Campsis)
This North American native perennial vine is considered invasive in some areas, so plant with caution.
Perennial in Zones 5 through 9, the Trumpet vine climbs to 20 feet or more with red/orange trumpet shaped blooms that attract hummingbirds. It is highly drought-tolerant and grows easily from seeds or cuttings. It is a non-stop bloomer from summer through fall.
Sweet Pea (Lathyrus Latifolus)
Very fragrant with orchid-like delicate flowers, the Sweet Pea vine gets about 3 feet tall. There are some other varieties that will grow larger. These flowers are grown for their old world, cottage garden feel and look great twining around a trellis or obelisk. They make great cut flowers too.
Blooms come in colors of pink, purple, white and lavender. Sow from seed in late April-early May for Midwestern areas, slightly earlier for New England areas and in the Fall for the Pacific Northwest. Sow 1 inch deep and 3 inches apart. Sweet Pea does best in full sun.
Hyacinth Bean Vine aka Egyptian Bean (Dolichos Lablab)
This native African vine is an annual in most areas. It produces dark, glossy green leaves with purple flowers and purple bean pods. The bean pods are only edible if picked young and cooked, so consume with caution.
The Hyacinth bean vine prefers full sun and blooms late summer through fall. It is a beautiful vine, both for the purple flowers and the interesting purple pods. Grow from seed and sow after your last frost date. It will climb 4 to 8 feet high.
Grapes (Vitus varieties)
Grapes require a bit more work than all the other vines featured in the article, but the payoff is years of yummy grapes on vines that can live from 50 to 100 years. That's a long time for a minimal amount of effort.
If you are considering growing grapes, know that they will not produce fruit in their first year (unless you are purchasing plants that are on 2nd or 3rd year of growth). They require a strong, sturdy support of a fence, arbor or pergola in full sun. Because these vines live for so long, make sure you pick a spot that will be its permanent home.
Their needs are pretty simple; good drainage, PH of the soil on slightly the acidic side and little to no fertilizer.
Grapes come in three specific varieties:
American- grows best in warm, sunny climates like California.
European- Grows best in the Northern U.S.
Muscadine- Grows best in the Southern U.S.
Choose which type is right for your region. There are a number of varieties available on the common market for each region.
Fruits are ripe usually late summer or early fall. The best way to tell is just by tasting. They will not continue to ripen off the vine like some other fruits, so pick when they are at their peak of ripeness.