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updated: 7/10/2013 1:28 PM

Art in the garden: Use more vines in your landscape

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  • A clematis climbs the stems of an oakleaf hydrangea and puts on quite a show.

    A clematis climbs the stems of an oakleaf hydrangea and puts on quite a show.

  • An akebia grows up a pergola to provide a privacy screen.

    An akebia grows up a pergola to provide a privacy screen.

  • A climbing hydrangea grows up a tree in the author's garden.

    A climbing hydrangea grows up a tree in the author's garden.

By Diana Stoll
The Planter’s Palette

As you walk through your landscape, look for spots where you might include vines. They can be utilized to dress up a view, cover a bare spot, provide a lush backdrop for other plants, or extend the garden vertically.

Look beyond the usual locations. Consider lampposts, railings of decks or porches, gazebos or other garden structures, trees and shrubs. Vines wander up and over large rocks, tickle the bases of statuary, and meander over garden benches.

Vines can be classified in three categories: twiners, clingers and graspers.


Twiners climb by twisting their stems around a support such as lattice, chain link, and railings. They cannot climb up a wall without support.

Morning glories are an old-fashioned favorite with large, showy flowers in shades of blue, red, pink and white. The heart-shaped leaves grow into a thick, lush mat of green. Plant morning glories from seeds or small plants each spring in infertile soil in full sun.

Hyacinth bean is another annual vine that twines it way up. It boasts purplish-pink flowers with dark centers, purple stems, and shiny purple pods. It grows quickly from seed in full sun.

Honeysuckle is a perennial twiner. Showy tubular flowers in a wide range of colors bloom in summer and attract hummingbirds. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate partly sunny conditions.

Fiveleaf akebia has grown quickly to cover a pergola and provide privacy in my landscape. It would also be beautiful sprawling across a spot in sun or part shade as a groundcover, to camouflage undesirable areas, or as erosion control on slopes.

Silver lace vine bursts into bloom in mid to late summer with fluffy, white flowers. Give silver lace vine a large space -- it grows very quickly to form a dense screen in a sunny or partly sunny site.


Clingers attach themselves by aerial rootlets or adhesive discs and grow best on rough surfaces like brick, stone or bark.

Boston ivy can cover your garden wall just like it blankets the walls of Wrigley Field. It grows quickly in sun or shade, and the rich green foliage glows fiery red in fall.

I love climbing hydrangea. Large, white flowers bloom in summer; deep green leaves are lovely for three seasons; and cinnamon-colored, exfoliating bark provides winter interest. It grows in sun or shade, but a spot with protection from hot afternoon sun is best. Climbing hydrangea needs a large, sturdy support. Mine is planted at the base of a large maple tree. Part of the stems grow up the trunk; others grow across the floor of my shade garden.

Trumpet vine climbs by aerial rootlets in sun to part shade. Its trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of yellow, orange and orange-red attract hummingbirds. Prune it back repeatedly to prevent it from becoming invasive.


Graspers, similar to twiners, grab and coil themselves around their supports.

Clematis is the queen of this group, and everyone should have a collection of clematis in their landscapes. Large-flowering types are the most popular and are available in a wide range of colors. Plant clematis where a shot of vertical color is needed. Don't forget to shade their roots. Clematis vines like their heads in the sun, but their roots in the shade.

Porcelain-colored berries and lovely variegated foliage are the reasons to plant variegated porcelain vine. A vigorous grower with grape-leaf shaped foliage splashed with white, it will grow in sun to part shade.

Sweet peas have been a gardener's favorite for years. Ruffled blossoms in a wide array of colors fill the garden with exquisite fragrance. Plant this annual vine from seed as soon as the ground can be worked in spring in an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade.

Look beyond the benches filled with annuals and perennials the next time you visit your local garden center. Check out the vines to find your next ground cover, vertical accent, privacy screen or backdrop for other plants.

• Diana Stoll is a horticulturist and the garden center manager at The Planter's Palette, 28W571 Roosevelt Road, Winfield. Call (630) 293-1040, ext. 2, or visit

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