Among things that avid gardeners enjoy, managing weeds in lawns and flowerbeds is not on…
When gardeners look at a space and make plans, the big questions come to mind: what trees and shrubs do I want, and where? How many flower beds can I fit in? Can I add a water feature? They often overlook a beautiful and practical addition to the garden: vines. There is a vine for every purpose: to cover unsightly walls and fences, to add stunning blooms – and often fragrance – in both sun and shade, and even to create a focal point or a trailing element in pots on small patios. When it’s time to design or refresh a garden, vines are a versatile choice with many uses.
Some of the most traditional and popular vines are annuals, commonly grown from seed and replanted each year. This group includes the morning glories, with their profuse, trumpet-shaped blooms in many shades of blue. Gardeners love the lush, thread-like foliage and striking tubular red flowers of cypress vine – flowers that no hummingbird can resist. Hyacinth bean vines are a sort of heritage plant, with the seeds passed from friend to friend and generation to generation. This remarkably fast grower has drooping purple-pink flowers that ripen into decorative purple bean pods; save a few pods each fall and you’re ready to share this treasure with fellow gardeners and plant again in spring. All annual vines are very fast-growing and can be enjoyed from spring until the first frost.
For gardeners who want vines year-round, there’s a perennial vine for every space. Gardeners with sun love our evergreen crossvine. This Texas native is related to trumpet vine but is much less aggressive. With minimal training, it will attach to walls and trellises and produce a mass of rusty-orange blooms in time for the spring hummingbird migration, then more blooms in the fall. Another native hummingbird attractor is coral honeysuckle. This vine needs watchful training to get it established on a fence or support, but once established, it’s a long-lived, easy-care option with clusters of gorgeous tubular red flowers spring through fall. Another stunning addition to full-sun gardens is passionvine. There are native species of this popular vine as well as many cultivars and hybrids, and with the wide range of colors available for these show-stopping flowers, it’s worth researching and shopping around for just the right plant. Passionvines are the larval plant for gulf fritillary butterflies: first, you’ll see caterpillars eating the vines, then your yard will be full of orange butterflies. Passionvines are known to be aggressive spreaders; be wary and when they pop up where you don’t want them, start digging.
Gardeners with shade shouldn’t feel left out. Classic landscape standards like climbing English ivy – think of the ivy-covered buildings at Harvard – do well in Texas if given morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled light. Another popular vine with the same wall-covering ability as ivy but with fragrant blooms is the evergreen Madison star jasmine, which better adapted to the Texas weather than other jasmines. Perhaps the best-loved of all the vines, sun or shade, is clematis. There are scores of clematis hybrids, each with sensational flowers that can range from snow white to deepest blue. Clematis curls and twines on woody stems, and even when they drop their foliage, the spiraling stems, still wrapped around mailboxes and columns, add height and interest to winter gardens. Clematis is easy to train and maintain and is a great size for patio pots.
Is it time for a seasonal checkup of your landscape? A reworking of a boring flowerbed? Maybe you want to reward yourself with a beautifully planted pot on the patio. Put a beautiful vine on your list then in your landscape. There’s sure to be one that’s exactly what you’ve been looking for!