Art in the garden: Plant some vines in your landscape this summer

  • Climbing hydrangea is slow to establish but worth wait.

    Climbing hydrangea is slow to establish but worth wait.

  • Clematis attaches itself to a support with tendrils.

    Clematis attaches itself to a support with tendrils.

By Diana Stoll
The Planter's Palette
Updated 6/1/2012 10:48 AM

While designing your garden this summer, be sure to include some vines in your plan. Vines offer a wealth of opportunities to dress up the garden including covering bare spots, providing a lush backdrop for other plants, and creating vertical accents in the landscape.

Look beyond the obvious locations for vines. Consider lampposts, porches, gazebos, trees and shrubs. Vines also make great groundcovers when allowed to wander up and over rocks or other garden statuary.


Vines are generally classified in three categories: twiners, clingers and graspers. Twiners like morning glories and honeysuckle climb by twisting their stems around a support. They cannot climb up a wall unsupported.

Clingers attach themselves to supports by aerial rootlets or adhesive discs. They grow best on rough surfaces. Climbing hydrangeas and ivies are examples of clingers.

Graspers are similar to twiners. They grab and coil their tendrils around supports. Clematis are probably the most-often planted twiner.

If you are a person who requires instant gratification, choose an annual vine. They grow to maturity in a single season. They are prized for their colorful blooms, interesting foliage and seedpods. The downside: they need to be replanted each year.

Perennial vines, on the other hand, only need to be planted once, but need more time to establish and grow to maturity. Anyone who has seen a mature climbing hydrangea or a blooming wisteria will attest it is definitely worth the wait. And there are some perennial vines that grow quickly like the trumpet vine, Boston ivy, and silver lace vine.

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If you are having trouble deciding whether to go with an annual or perennial vine, plant both. Plant the annual vine next to the perennial vine. While the perennial vine is establishing, the annual vine will fill the space beautifully.

Perennial vines are generally available in containers at your local garden center. These can be planted from spring to fall. Annual vines can sometimes be found started in pots, but are very easy to grow from seed. Just follow the directions on the seed packet.

Annual vines rarely need pruning unless you are trying to control their size to fit your particular space. Perennial vines differ in their pruning requirements.

Slow-growing vines seldom need pruning. Fast-growing vines may need to have their growth controlled from time to time. Here are some general guidelines.


Prune out any weak or broken stems as you discover them.

Prune vines that bloom on new growth in late winter or early spring to encourage more flowers. Prune vines that bloom on last season's growth right after they finish flowering unless the vine also produces interesting seed heads or berries later in the season.

You can always prune to control growth. If a stem begins growing in the wrong direction or is encroaching on doorways, prune it back to the desired length.

Whether trees cast filtered shade across your garden or your landscape basks in the sun, there are vines suitable for your space. Consider including some in your garden this summer.

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

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