Vines to Cover a Multitude of Sins (Part 1)
Our old wooden fence is in full sun and about 6′ tall, but ugly so I’d like to cover it. I’m afraid wisteria would be too heavy and tear the whole fence down. What are some other vines to use? Jo, Oklahoma
A wooden fence covered with any vine could spell disaster. Let’s look at some options for vines first (Part 1), but then check out ideas of ways to “cover” the fence without destroying it (Part 2).
CHOOSE A VINE: What is the vine’s purpose? Do you want the area covered all the time? If it is an ugly fence you are trying to hide, it won’t be any more attractive in the winter, so an EVERGREEN vine is the way to go. In the case of an arbor or pergola, you might want sun to shine in to warm the space in the winter months (or to allow more sun into your home’s windows, if the structure is attached to the house or just outside it). For that circumstance, DECIDUOUS (looses its leaves) plants might be more appropriate. Also look at whether the climber is PERENNIAL (continues growing all year or comes back from the roots in spring) or ANNUAL (lives its life in a season and must be replanted). Will you need it to climb of its own accord and wits, or can you provide a helping hand? Here are a few of my favorites to cover your part of the country with beauty.
trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) – *native plant; sun or part shade; red blooming perennial, evergreen or semi-evergreen native in much of North America; favorite of hummingbirds; also look for yellow blooming ‘John Clayton’ selection; requires support (CHERIE’S NOTE: I also use this one at my house as a lovely ground cover in a raised bed. Just be sure it doesn’t have anything in the bed to climb, because it WILL!)
evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata) – sun or part shade; maroon blooming tender perennial or annual, semi-evergreen; requires support (CHERIE’S NOTE: This gorgeous, fragrant vine hangs above a fountain in my front entryway and I have a constant stream of admirers when it is in bloom, which is much of the time.)
crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) – *native plant; sun or shade; brownish-red throated with gold or orange-to-red blooming evergreen perennial; hummers love it; climbs on its own with sticky tendrils; cultivated varieties include ‘Tangerine Beauty’ (CHERIE’S NOTE: Initially, I started growing crossvine against the brick of my home to fill a niche and get some heat off the house. It soon had gone past the brick and began twining its way into the attic! By laying it down and installing a wooden trellis for it to climb, we are getting along famously.)
climbing rose (various Rosa species) – sun to part sun; mostly pink, red or white blooming perennial deciduous or semi-evergreen (CHERIE’S NOTE: One of my favorites is the native climbing prairie rose – Rosa setigera – admittedly as much for its beauty as the wonderful legend behind how it got here! But the thornless, evergreen Lady Banks rose in either yellow or white is a must have for any Southern garden, as far as I’m concerned. In Oklahoma and other areas where the temps dip below freezing, use the Lady Banks only in a well-protected area.)
cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) – sun or part shade; red, sometimes pink or white blooming annual vine; great climber, but needs support; hummingbird food (CHERIE’S NOTE: I always have a pot of cypress vine growing near my kitchen window to watch the hummers attack it. It grows easily – TOO EASILY – from seed, so having it in a pot where I can control it is the only way I can use it in my area because it becomes invasive.)
In the next installment, you’ll see supporting roles for vines that won’t have you climbing the wall!