3 Basic Growth Styles: Clinging, Twining & Climbing with Tendrils

Clinging vines use foot-like attachments to adhere to a surface. They climb best on structures with a grainy texture such as brick, rock, stucco, or wood (not very suitable for metal or smooth surfaces). Examples: Ivy, Trumpet creeper, Boston ivy, Virginia creeper, Climbing Hydrangea, Fatshedera

Twining vines naturally wrap around a vertical structure with the entire plant like a snake slithering up a tree. This is the most common style of vine growth. They climb best on posts 6 inches wide or less (not suitable for brick walls or other flat vertical surfaces). Examples: Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Wisteria, Hops, Akebia, Holboellia, Grapes, Kiwi

Vines that climb with tendrils use a specialized part that resembles a curly phone cord to grab onto a structure and adhere. They climb best on a trellis or structure with posts less than 1 inch wide (not suitable for brick walls or other flat vertical surfaces). Examples: Peas, Sweet Peas, Passion vine, Clematis

Most vines will eventually cling by themselves, however, they occasionally need a little help getting started. Velcro plant ties, plastic green stretch ties, or other flexible materials are preferred if tying to structure is required.

Great Vines for Full Sun

  • Trumpet creeper (loves reflective heat, drought tolerant, attracts hummingbirds)
  • Honeysuckle (fragrant, long-blooming, drought tolerant, semi-evergreen)
  • Passion vine (heat and drought tolerant)
  • Potato vine (long-blooming, drought tolerant)
  • Star jasmine (fragrant, evergreen)
  • Pink jasmine
  • Poet’s jasmine
  • Boston ivy (great fall color, drought tolerant)
  • Virginia creeper (great fall color, drought tolerant)
  • Wisteria (fragrant, fast growing, drought tolerant)
  • Clematis (keep roots cool and shaded)
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Hops (grow back from the roots each season instead of from previous year’s growth)

Great Vines for Shade

  • Akebia (fast grower, semi-evergreen)
  • Holboellia (fragrant, evergreen)
  • Climbing hydrangea
  • Japanese climbing hydrangea
  • Star jasmine

Clematis for Open, Dappled, or Light Shade

  • Clematis X armandii
  • C. X durandii
  • C. montana rubens ‘Freda’
  • C. ‘Pink Perfection’
  • C. montana ‘Tetrarose’
  • C. montana ‘Broughton Star’
  • C. ‘Elizabeth’
  • C. ‘Alionushka’
  • C. ‘Betty Corning’
  • C. ‘Constance’
  • C. ‘Etoile Violette’
  • C. ‘Helsingborg’
  • C. ‘Madame Julia Correvon’
  • C. ‘Pink Flamingo’
  • C. ‘Polish Spirit’
  • C. ‘Rooguchi’

Clematis prefers to grow in full or partial sun with their roots kept cool by a ground cover or low perennial at the base. Clematis preform best with regular fertilization (use Portland Rose Society 15-10-10 or G&B Paradise blend or G&B Rose & Flower Food). When planting, add ½ cup lime and ½ cup bone meal into bottom of hole and plant 2 inches deeper than current soil level; pinch off flowers, flower buds, and excess growth for easier establishment.

Clematis Pruning

Group 1 vines flower in spring on growth from the previous year. Prune these vines right after they finish blooming in spring. The new stems that grow will then have enough time to make flower buds for the following year. How much to remove when pruning depends on the vine’s vigor and how large a support you’ve provided for it. Vigorous sorts, such as varieties of C. armandii, can be cut back almost to the ground. On the other hand, very little pruning is necessary for C. alpina and C. macropetala and other slow-growing varieties.

Older portions of the stems of some of these spring bloomers, such as C. montana, are often reluctant to re-sprout after being cut back, so avoid cutting these plants back into very old wood, keeping in mind that the plant will get somewhat larger each year. The best thing to remember is that no matter how you prune Group 1 plants, the new shoots that appear after pruning are the ones that will bear flowers the following season. To some degree, the less you shorten stems when pruning, the earlier the blossoms will appear.

Group 2 vines bloom in late spring or early summer, then again sporadically, on new shoots and old stems (repeat bloomers). Group 2 vines require a bit more pruning finesse than do the vines of the other groups. If you cut back these types drastically right after the first bloom, you miss out on much of the summer show; if you do so just before growth begins, you miss the spring flush. A simpler option when pruning Group 2 clematis vines is to severely prune the plant back by half in alternate years. Another approach is to cut the whole plant back drastically every few years just before growth begins, with little or no pruning in the intervening time; in this case, you give up only the earliest blossoms in the season you prune. Group 2 examples:  Large-flowered hybrid cultivars such as ‘Bees’ Jubilee’, ‘Elsa Späth’, ‘General Sikorski’, ‘Henryi’, ‘Nelly Moser’, ‘Niobe’, ‘The President’

Group 3 vines flower in late summer or in fall, on new growth produced earlier in the season. These are the easiest vines to prune. Just before the season’s growth begins, or as it is beginning, lop all stems back to strong buds within a foot or so of the ground. Group 3 examples: Large-flowered hybrid cultivars, such as: ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’, ‘Ernest Markham’, ‘Gipsy Queen’, ‘Jackmanii’, ‘Lady Betty Balfour’, ‘Perle d’Azur’, ‘Ville de Lyon’; and also C. X durandii, C. heracleifolia and cvs., C. integrifolia and cvs., C. orientalis and cvs., C. recta and cvs., C. tangutica and cvs., C. terniflora, C. texensis and cvs., C. viticella and cvs.

Beautiful Annual Vines

Annual vines are fast-growing and heavy bloomers that die in frost; they commonly self-sow the following year if allowed to go to seed. Annual vines provide fast coverage for screening or shelter, do great in containers, and can be intertwined with shrubs, trees, or larger plants to add color/interest.

  • Sweet Pea
  • Sugar Snap (edible) Peas
  • Black-eyed Susan vine
  • Annual Morning Glory
  • Hyacinth Bean
  • Scarlet Runner bean (other pole bean varieties)
  • Purple Bells (Rhodochiton)
  • Exotic Love vine