Vining plants are a favorite of homeowners who are looking for a vertical focal point to add to their landscape. Vines come in three types: twining, tendril or clinging. Twining and tendril vines need some sort of support. Several ornamental vines thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 8a, which covers much of the South and Southeast, as well as areas near the West Coast.
Clematis (Clematis spp.), which grows in USDA zones 3 through 11, depending on the species, comes in varieties with eye-catching flowers of blue, purple, pink, red, yellow and white. Some have 8-inch flowers, while others produce smaller, more delicate blooms. American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), which grows in USDA zones 5 through 9 offers large, dark blue to purple blooms in late spring. Goldflame honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrottii) grows in USDA zones 5 through 8 and displays pink, tubular flowers with yellow adorning the inside of the petals. Stay away from Japanese (Wisteria floribunda) or Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), however, as these species are invasive throughout parts of North America.
If you're looking for a vine that will provide winter interest instead of showy flowers or fruit during the summer, several evergreen vines are available; some produce flowers. Jessamine (Gelsemium spp.) grows in USDA zones 7 through 9; its yellow flowers can make for an attractive cloak around chain-link fences. Smilax (Smilax spp.), also known as catbriar, grows in USDA zones 4 through 8 and has shiny, bright green foliage that is useful on trellises or in flower arrangements.
Some vines produce bird-attracting berries. American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), which grows in USDA zones 3 through 8, is an example of a vine that's best known for its orange to red berries that brighten the gray days of fall and winter. The native Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) grows in USDA zones 3 through 10 and offers palmately divided leaflets that turn from green to deep scarlet in autumn. Virginia creeper also has berries that attracts birds.
Types of Support
Most of the vines found at nurseries or garden centers are twining vines that require a trellis, fence or other type of support to grow up. Trellises are widely available and some double as lawn accents due to decorative scrolling or other adornments. Copper, aluminum, cedar or cypress are all suitable materials for trellises. Another option is lattice, although not all vines will be able to wrap around the wide bars of lattice. Placing nails or other fasteners in wood for the tendrils to grab onto can allow these types of vines to grow up the side of a structure.
- University of Missouri Extension: Selecting Landscape Plants: Ornamental Vines
- North Carolina State University: Celastrus Scandens
- Fine Gardening: Genus Clematis
- North Carolina State University: Wisteria Frutescens
- Monrovia: Swamp Jessamine
- North Carolina State University: Smilax Lanceolata
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Smilax Hispida
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Parthenocissus Quinquefolia Virginia Creeper
- University of Illinois Extension: Honeysuckle, Goldflame
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Celastrus Scandens
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