Part 2: Annual and Perennial Vines for Covering an Unsightly Fence

vines covering an old, rusty fence

If you're looking for a green solution to your unsightly fence, annual and perennial vines are a wonderful option. While Part 1 discussed how to hide your fence using paint, fence slats, and more, Part 2 will discuss the best annual and perennial vines for covering your fence.

Annual Vines

Growing annual vines over a chain-link fence is a quick way to cover it temporarily. Just keep in mind that they will only cover it for part of the year, and they may need to be replanted annually.

However, it is the perfect solution if you anticipate replacing the fence soon or are waiting for other greenery to grow up around it. Although there are dozens of different types of annual vines available, here are a few fast-growing varieties that are easy to grow.

Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia Alata)

This vine, also known as the orange clockvine, is a warm-season annual in USDA zones 2-9, but a perennial in USDA zones 10 and 11. It can grow in full sun or partial shade conditions and needs regular watering. Black-eyed Susan vines produce a bright yellow, orange, or white flower with a black center throughout the summer. It will grow about 8 feet long and is easy to grow from seed.

Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea Multifida)

The cardinal climber can grow 10 feet or more and will produce a 2-inch red flower with a white center in the summer. It needs full sun but will tolerate a variety of soil conditions. Its seeds should be nicked and soaked overnight before they are planted. Plant them in the spring after the last frost has passed.

Cup-and-Saucer Vine (Cobaea Scandens)

This plant is a dense vine that grows about 15-25 feet long. When it begins to bloom in the early summer, it produces a unique flower that resembles a tiny cup sitting on green saucer-like base. Flowers come in different shades of green and purple. The cup-and-saucer vine prefers a well-draining soil in full sun but will tolerate light shade.

However, this will reduce the number of blooms it produces. Seeds should be planted about 18-24 inches apart once the threat of frost has passed. It is good for USDA zones 9-11.

Cypress Vine (Ipomoea Quamoclit)

Growing about 10-feet long, this vine produces white, pink, or red blooms in the summer that are very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. It prefers full sun, and seeds are hard and need to be nicked and soaked overnight before planting in the spring. Plant seeds about 1/2 inch deep and 1-inch apart. In USDA zones 6-10, the cypress vine should naturalize by self-seeding each year and may spread to other areas.

Hyacinth Bean Vine (Lablab Purpureus)

This plant can grow 6-20 feet tall. It has 6-inch large leaves that are dark green with reddish-purple veins and stems. When it blooms in the summer, it produces sweet-smelling lavender blooms that develop into edible purple pods.

Plant the seeds in the spring 6-8 weeks after the last frost. Hyacinth bean vines require full sun. Seeds should be placed about 6-inches apart, about 1/2 inch deep. Soak the seeds in warm water for 24-48 hours before planting. It is good for USDA zones 10 and 11.

Morning Glories (Ipomoea Purpurea)

These are so fast-growing that people often think they are perennials. They are killed off with any frost, but they generally reseed themselves the next year. They can reach heights of 10 feet or more within two months. Morning glories should be planted in full sun after all danger of frost is past.

Plant seeds about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, about 8-inches apart. For best results, slightly nick the seeds with a file or soak them overnight before planting. They produce tubular shaped flowers in shades of purple, blue, pink, or white from summer to fall.

Perennial Vines

Compared to annual vines, perennial vines are a better option when looking for a long-term solution.

Be careful when planting woody vines like wisteria, trumpet creeper, and climbing hydrangea. If you plant them too close together, they can pull apart the wire and destroy the fence. To avoid this, place sections of sturdy wooden or metal lattice in front of the chain-link fence if you decide to plant one of those varieties. While perennial vines generally take longer to mature than annual vines, there are a few fast growing varieties that are perfect for covering chain-link fences.

Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus Tricuspidata)

Also known as cottage ivy and Japanese ivy, the Boston ivy can reach heights exceeding 30 feet. This vine is fast-growing and tolerant of almost all conditions in USDA zones 4-8. Its leaves are dark green and will turn bright red in the fall.

Clematis (Clematis Sp.)

Clematis grows so well it is often called the "queen of climbers." They produce large, showy flowers that bloom for long periods in the summer. It is capable of growing about 8-feet long in USDA zones 4-9, depending on the variety. Plant it in well-worked, porous soil in a sunny or partly shady area and water regularly.

Dutchman’s Pipe (Arisolochia Durior)

This fast-growing twining plant does well in a full sun, partial shade, or even full shade. It has large, heart-shaped leaves with purple flowers. They are hardy perennials in USDA zones 8-10, and will bloom from early spring until fall.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

This vine has a classic fan-shaped leaf that grows well in partial sun or shade. It has a moderate growth rate that will grow about 9-feet tall. They grow best in USDA zones 3-9, and for best results, make sure you use the best soil with a pH balance of about 7.2. English ivy is a semi-evergreen that should be planted about 18-inches apart. Two cultivars of the English ivy that are particularly hardy are "Thorndale" and "Bulgaria."

Five Leaf Akebia (Akebia Quinata)

Also known as the chocolate vine, it is a fast-growing plant that will typically grow to the height of its support. It has oval leaves that start out purple before turning blue-green. It produces a purple fruit that ripens in the early fall that will attract wildlife, and it is a deciduous plant in cooler climates, but an evergreen in warmer ones. It is hardy in USDA zones 4-8.

Passionflowers (Passiflora Incarnata)

Passion flowers, or passion vines, produce intricate purple flowers, and sometimes white, that turn into an aromatic fruit. They are easily grown in USDA zones 5-9 but can be planted in colder areas if they are protected in the winter. Passionflowers can grow up to 30 feet in a single season, but average about 10-15 feet. They need partial to full sun and like lots of water.

Trumpet Creeper (Campsis Radicans)

Trumpet creepers, or trumpet vines, produce an orange trumpet-shaped flower in the summer that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It prefers a full sun exposure and can do well in hot, dry spots. Trumpet creepers are easy to grow and can become invasive. A fast-growing vine, it that can reach heights between 10-50 feet long in USDA zones 4-10.

The Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus Quinquefolia)

This vigorous climbing perennial can grow up to 50-feet long. Leaves emerge bronze-green, turn dark green by summer, and then become a brilliant deep red by the fall. It will grow well in almost any condition from full sun to full shade. In the fall, it produces a berry that is a favorite of many birds and animals.

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