Growing Vines In Your Garden

climbing vine up the side of a building
  • 1-100 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-200

Ever wonder if some vines would add a little ‘pizzazz’ to your garden? Well, vines can certainly add a finishing touch to a garden, with all the options available ranging from traditional green or variegated ivies to beautiful flowering vines that contribute both color and interest to your garden.

In addition to just looking nice, vines can also take on a practical role around your home. They can cover up blemishes on walls, add some green color to trees, or be used as a screen to cover fences or bare expanses of brick on your house. Or they could transform a plain arbor or pergola into a focal point of your garden. Plus, when it comes to choosing vines, you’ve got lots of choices, since different types of climbing vines can grow to anywhere from five feet all the way to 80 feet or even more (depending on climate and growing conditions).

If you’re considering adding some vines to your garden this year, here’s a little more information you should find useful.

1. Choosing a Vine

Vines climbing a fence

First off, you should know the four basic types of climbing vines available. Since they grow in different ways each can add different functionality to your garden.

Twiners or twining climbing vines. These have flexible stems that can be twined or wrapped around a trellis or other support structure – even string. Some common examples of this type of vine are Morning Glories or Honeysuckle.

Tendril vines have leaves that reach out from the stem, grabbing onto a surface and attaching themselves to it. These are vines like sweet peas or clematis and they grow quite quickly so need horizontal support about every ½”, but they are easy to train and can give any structure (trellis, fence) a lush appearance.

Attaching roots or sticky ending climbing vines. These types will attach themselves to walls or smooth surfaces such as posts, using adhesive like pads on their root ends or stems to fasten onto the smooth surface. These vines grow upwards and are easy to train. They include Boston ivy and some forms of Virginia creeper.

Rootlet ending climbing vines are also considered to be ground creeping vines so have an added advantage that they can be used as a ground cover to help control soil erosion. Some common examples or rootlet-ended vines are English Ivy and the Trumpet Vine.

2. Taking Care of Your Vines

pruning a wall of vines

Most types of climbing vines require very little maintenance and are easy to care for, although some flowering vines do need to be planted where they will get a fair amount of sun exposure (up to six hours a day) and lots of water.

It’s obviously best to plant your vines where they can attach themselves to other structures or you will need to give them something to climb on (trellis?). Be sure to match the style of your garden trellis with the type of vine you choose (i.e. attaching root vines will like metal trellis or posts).

You can keep your ground cover from spreading into unwanted areas by laying down black plastic in areas you don’t want your vines to spread.

Remember some types of vines do take a few years to get established.

Because there are so many types of climbing vines available, take the time to do some research and talk to local nurseries about the vine types that will grow best for your application in your region.