Few garden plants can surpass the transformative power of ornamental vines. Multi-functional, climbing or spreading vines add vertical or horizontal dimensions to garden designs. Climbing vines add texture and color to fences, walls and trellises. Spreading vines can mask unattractive features. Gardeners living in United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 4, with winter temperatures tumbling as low as 30 degrees below zero, have a wide choice of fragrant, flowering or fruiting vines from which to choose.
Any vine possessing tubular, red blooms with nectar-exposing, curved petals is almost certain to draw hummingbirds. Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) fills the bill in late spring with clusters of scarlet-and-yellow, 2-inch blossoms. A woody, blue-green-leaved vine climbing from 10 to 30 feet, coral honeysuckle thrives in full sun and moist, well-drained loam. Hummingbirds also flock to Zone 4 perennial trumpetvine (Campsis radicans). Ascending vigorously from 25 to 40 feet, trumpetvine has a 5- to 10-foot spread. Its twining stems of glossy, green compound leaves contrast strikingly with its 3-inch-long, red summer flowers. This sun lover also functions as an erosion-controlling groundcover. It performs best in infertile or averagely fertile soil.
Many Zone 4-hardy vines have fragrant flowers. Twenty- to 40-foot chocolate vine (Akebia quinata) pairs dark-green, tapering leaves and cascades of fragrant, purple-brown blossoms in early spring. The blooms' scent is described as chocolate or vanilla-and-spice mix. Purple seedpods with edible pulp follow the flowers. Chocolate vine thrives in sunny, moist sites. From August to October, when many other perennials have already passed their peak, woodbine (Clematis virginiana) brightens landscapes with delicate, sweetly scented white blooms. Their abundant numbers nearly cover the vine's green foliage. The 12- to 20-foot climber also produces feathery seedpods. Woodbine likes sunny or partially shady locations with well-drained, averagely moist soil.
Vines with variegated foliage continue to brighten gardens after their flowers have faded. Variegated kiwi vine (Actidinia kolomikta), at 15 to 20 feet high, has green heartlike leaves streaked with white, pink or both. The variegation is most noticeable on plants in partial shade. Pollinated, female variegated kiwi vines bear edible, greenish-yellow fruit after they mature. The Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) cultivar "Star Showers" features cream-splashed green foliage on up-to-40-foot high stems. In autumn, however, the leaves revert to solid green. Star Showers flourishes in sun or shade and moist soil.
What the Grape (Vitaceae) family porcelain vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) lacks in showy flowers, it compensates for with blue autumn berries. The 15- to 20-foot vine 's modest, green mid-to-late-summer blooms produce lilac, 1/4-inch berries that ripen to richer shades of blue or amethyst-purple in fall. Monkshood vine, another grape family vine, climbs to 25 feet. It also produces insignificant green summer flowers. Its round fall berries emerge pale-blue and mature to orange-yellow. Both Zone 4 plants need supporting structures. They relish well-drained, averagely fertile moist soil and perform well in sun or partial shade.
- United States National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones Map
- University of Cincinnati Clermont College; Pollination and Plant Families; J. Stein Carter; November 2004
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Lonicera Sempervirens
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Campsis Radicans
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Akebia Quinata
- UC Davis Master Gardener Newspaper Articles; Indulge a Passion: Grow a Chocolate Garden; Dorothy M. Downing; September 2000
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