A Guide To The Different Types Of Vines

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Vines can add a fast growing vertical element to your garden, barn, or house. Most vines will grow toward sunlight by elongating their stems and attaching themselves to support where available, making them great for walls, trellises, archways and pergolas.

Vines are usually valued for the summer shade they provide when trained over an arbor or patio roof. Other varieties add interest when trained against the sunny wall of a building or planted to frame a doorway. Vertical vines can be used to provide a needed accent to relieve the monotony of a large expanse of fencing or even hide a chain-link fence with green foliage. Vine varieties such as ivy, memorial rose, and winter-creeper euonymus can be useful on steep banks. Perhaps the greatest benefit of vines, for the gardener, is the small amount of ground space they require for growth. Many are happy to remain planted in containers throughout the garden.

When selecting vines, always consider temperature hardiness and light requirements. The amount of sunlight your vines will receive can be critical to their survival, or it may reduce flowering and fruiting. Check with a qualified nursery to determine which vines are appropriate for your climate zone. Most vines are quite tolerant of a wide range of soil types.

Different Types Of Vines Vines are usually described as woody or semi-woody climbing or trailing plants, however some vines are annuals and have herbaceous stems. Each species and cultivar of vine possesses distinctive characteristics making it suitable for a specific location.

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Annual Vines

  • Balloon vine Black-eyed Susan Cup and saucer Firecracker (mina lobata) Hyacinth bean Moonflower Morning glory

Perennial Vines

  • American bittersweet Fiveleaf Akebia Boston ivy Clemantis Dutchman’s pipe English ivy Gloryvine Hydrangea Oriental bittersweet Passionflower Silver fleecevine Trumpet vine Wintercreeper euonymus Wisteria

Edible vines

  • Bean (pole) Bitter melon Blackberry Cantaloupe (vining types) Chayote Kiwi Nasturtium (vining types) Scarlet runner bean Sweet pea Sweet potato, ornamental

Fast-growing Vines For Quick Shade

Growth rate and sun exposure requirements should be considered when selecting vines. Some vines, such as oak leaf hydrangea, grow slowly and are appropriate when only a small area needs covering. Virginia creeper and Boston ivy are astonishingly fast growers and should not be selected for small areas. But these are good choices when a lot of shade is needed in just several growing seasons.

Flowering Vines For Garden Color

Vines that provide color in the garden come in an amazing range of flowering color choices. The passionflower vines are available in pink, purple, and blue. Moonflowers come in white and purple. Morning glories are available in lavender, pale yellow, pearl, strawberry cream swirl, blue, red, and a wide variety of variegated faced colors. Flowering Vines

  • Blue butterfly pea Blue crown passionflower Bush potato vine Cardinal climber Flying saucer morning glory Lil red trumpet creeper Lil violet trumpet Maypop passionflower Messina creeper morning glory Orange Noah trumpet creeper Purple passionflower Purple moonflower Spanish flag White night-blooming moonflower

Climbing Vines Vines are generally divided into groups based on their method of climbing. Some plants climb by attaching small appendages as a means of support. Boston ivy has modified tendrils with small, circular discs at the tips; English ivy and winter-creeper form small rootlets along the stem. These types of vines should not be allowed to grow on wood houses or wooden parts of brick houses such as window frames, and eaves with wooden rafters.

Vines, such as clematis and grape climb by winding shoots or leaf-like appendages which act as tendrils around the object on which they are growing. Most vines climb by twining stems. As the growing tips elongate, the stem coils around the nearest vertical support. Avoid planting twining vines near small trees and shrubs because they may become difficult to control. Vines such as bittersweet and wisteria climb by twining.

Climbing vines

  • Akebia Black-eyed Susan Bougainvillea Cardinal climber Cypress vine Climbing hydrangea English ivy Gloxinia Mandevilla Wintercreeper

When planted in the correct location and properly trained, vines can provide a high degree of colorful visual interest, fragrance, and enjoyment in your garden. They can be used in a number of imaginative ways, such as hanging baskets, window boxes, and plant containers with trellises. Vines also make a good solution for blank and boring walls around the yard. Plus, you are not limited to the sunny side of buildings. The Boston ivy, climbing hydrangea, and other vines can be successfully grown in partial shade.

Last Updated: December 19, 2011
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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