In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
August, 2012
Regional Report

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This wall is engulfed with a magnificent woody wisteria vine.

Voluminous Vines

Vines are such versatile plants because they take up so little room in a bed, they can be used in the smallest of areas. They soften the harsh lines of a building or fence, offer shade to sit under, and can actually be used to create an outdoor room. They soften and cool a wall, provide a focal point, screen an unattractive view, give us privacy, function well as a groundcover, and can even provide fruit or vegetables.

Method of Attachment
Vines are categorized as evergreen or deciduous, and as annual or perennial herbaceous or woody plants. One of the first things to understand before adding a vine to your landscape is its method of attachment. This will help you decide how to assist it in climbing.

Twining Tendrils
Some vines have twining tendrils, such as peas or grapes. These will usually wrap around finer textured trellises such as lattice, hardware fencing, or even string.

Sticky Tendrils
Other vines have tendrils with sticky pads. These tendrils are usually fairly short, and in order to attach well, they need brick, masonry, or wood to stick to. English ivy has tiny rootlets that are also equipped with sticky pads on the tips, so are suited to the same type of trellising. These types of vines will also climb a tree by sticking to the bark.

Twining Stems
Vines with twining stems such as trumpet creeper will twine around thick lattice or fence posts but won't grow up cement wall. Clematis has twining petioles on the leaves, so it needs a small lattice or chain link to twine around.

Support Systems
Once you understand the method of attachment, you can begin to pick your support system. It's critical to know what a mature vine will look like so you can provide a trellis that is sturdy enough to hold the plant mass. You can use bamboo, fence panels, lattice, wire, or twigs as long as you have the right amount of support. There is nothing more discouraging than having a vine come tumbling down as a trellis breaks.

Woody Vines
Some examples of popular woody vines include hardy kiwi, wisteria, five-leaf akebia, porcelain vine, bittersweet, Boston ivy, Virginia creeper, wintercreeper, climbing hydrangea, trumpet creeper, honeysuckle and clematis. Most of these get fairly dense, so make sure to provide a trellis that is sturdy enough to support them and that you can work with when you need to prune.

Herbaceous Vines
Some popular annual herbaceous vines include morning glory, hyacinth bean, sweet pea, black-eyed Susan vine, purple bells, pole beans, scarlet runner beans, and cardinal vine. Each of these will fill a trellis in one year and can even be planted against a trellis in a pot for moveable privacy on the deck.

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