Ask any garden designer- flowering vines can add a beautiful touch to any gardening plan. They add new dimensions and provide organic structure, allowing growers to sculpt and design far beyond typical plantings. They're nature's finest concealers, covering unsightly fences and man-made dividers with lush greenery and stunning flowers. They offer shade for patios and pools and naturally screen any unwanted view.
When compared to trees or shrubs, flowering vines take up little ground space. In fact, many are perfectly at home growing in containers. Even better, with the use of basic structural elements like trellises, poles or foundational elements of a home, they can be "trained" to grow exactly where you desire.
While flowering vines like climbing hydrangea and clematis are simple and beautiful ways to architect a garden, if not attended, they can easily outgrow your designs. Vigorous growth and rapid-spreading characteristics can turn the most appealing vine into a pest, moving beyond garden beds into landscapes as well as burrowing into walls, around pipes and underneath rain gutters.
Before choosing vines for the garden, consider their purpose. Is the goal privacy or additional shade? Perhaps it's the creation of a windbreak. Is the area sloped, prone to erosion or is it a container. In addition, it is important to consider natural elements like soil conditions, air temperature and humidity levels, and the amount of available sunlight. Knowing the surroundings and your gardening purpose allow you to choose the perfect flowering vines.
Once properly placed and planted, flowering vines require little care. Instructions for their watering and feeding are usually available on the potted plant itself at time of purchase, and there are numerous sources for additional information, from gardening books and magazines to online articles and, of course, local garden center experts.
Not every flowering vine grows in similar patterns or climbs in the same way. For instance, there are both annual and perennial vines, herbaceous and woody vines, and even deciduous or evergreen vines.
When it comes to climbing, twining vines like honeysuckle have flexible stems that "twine" around objects, and they twist and turn around nearby plants as they grow. Clinging vines attach to surfaces with natural "hooks," grabbing onto objects and adhering to structures like walls or fences. Tendril vines like sweat peas grow threadlike tendrils that wrap around objects; leaning vines simply lean across objects as they spread.
No matter which flowering vine you choose, chances are it will require some type of support to guide it along the intended path. It's also a good idea to plan the path of a flowering vine before you plant it. Certain flowering vines require some assistance, for instance, tying leaning vines to designated areas with twine or weaving them across their intended growing path.
While it is important to match the right flowering vine to the right conditions, here are a few of the more robust, fastest growing and most adaptive varieties to their surroundings:
Orange Trumpet Vine: Indigenous to the southeastern United States and botanically classified as a deciduous woody vine, these striking plants commonly bear clusters of orange, reddish-orange or salmon flowers throughout much of the summer. In addition, this creeping vine commonly attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Recommend hardiness zones: 4 - 10.
Honeysuckle Vine: A twining vine that is noted for its colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers, sweet scent and attractiveness to butterflies and hummingbirds. These vines can grow 10 to 20 feet tall. Honeysuckle tolerate shade and grow well on fences, trellises and walls with support. Recommended hardiness zones: 4 - 9.
Climbing Hydrangea: One of the most popular ornamental vines, it grows and flowers in a northern exposure. It's a heavy vine and will require sturdy support. It grows slowly the first few years, but vigorously once established. It has a unique growing pattern--its lateral branches will reach out as far as three feet, making it perfect for coverings. Recommended hardiness zones: 4 - 7.
Bougainvillea: A native of coastal Brazil, this incredibly versatile plant can be grown in a container, spread across a trellis or cover an entire wall. It is commonly used in landscaping as a hedge or curb liner. It makes an excellent hot-season plant and its blooms are extremely colorful. Recommended hardiness zones: 9 - 11.
Clematis Flowering Vine: They are known for their colorfully rich hues and varied bloom times, providing a mass of blooming color from late winter to late fall. In fact, the blooms often change color throughout the life of the flower. Partial to sun or minimum shade, Clematis vines can grow 10 to 20 feet. Recommended hardiness zones: 3-5, 7-8.