Perennial Vines

News Article

Vines add interest to all gardens. They offer a wide variety of leaf forms, textures, and colors as well as attractive flowers or fruit. Perennial vines do not need replanting every year and can be used as a screen and to provide shade, fragrance, or fruit. They are often incorporated into gardens along walls, fences, trellises, arbors, or in containers to add height quickly in a limited space.

Vines are often categorized by their means of support. There are several ways vines climb or attach themselves to a structure. Some vines like Wisteria literally wrap themselves or twine around a structure. Other vines like grapes use modified leaves or tendrils to attach and pull themselves up a structure. Still others like Virginia creeper or English ivy use their roots or root-like structures to adhere like cement to a wall or structure as they climb. The type of vine planted will determine the necessity for a support structure. A twining-type vine will require a structure and possibly some attachment to grow vertically. A vine with root-like holdfasts will often climb a wall easily without any additional support.

Please see the following pages for a list of several common perennial vines.

Name Means of Support Exposure Comments
Actinidia kolomikta
Kolomikta Actinidia
Twining Sun to Partial Shade Dark green leaves tipped in white or pink; hardiest of the Actinidia; fragrant white flowers in spring; edible small fruit
Akebia quinata
Five-leaf Akebia
Twining Sun to Partial Shade Aggressive vine with five shiny medium green leaflets per leaf; inconspicuous flowers; produces fleshy, purple 2 to 3 inch long pods
Ampelopsis brevipeduniculata
Porcelain Vine
Tendrils Sun to Partial Shade Showy multi-colored blue, cream, or purple berries in late summer; variegated leaf forms available; can be invasive
Aristolochia durior
Dutchman's Pipe
Twining Partial Shade/ Shade Aggressive vine used as screens in shady sites; inconspicuous white to brownish-purple, pipe-shaped flowers in spring; fragrance considered unpleasant
Campsis radicans
Trumpet Creeper
Roots Sun Bright orange, scarlet, or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers in summer; attracts hummingbirds; may need strong support; suckers profusely and can become invasive
Celastrus scandens
American Bittersweet
Twining Sun to Partial Shade Bright orange and yellow berries in fall; grows rapidly; male and female plant needed for fruit set
Clematis spp.
Twining Sun to Partial Shade Large, showy flowers available in many colors; numerous varieties to choose from; Summer blooming; Long-blooming
Euonymus fortunei
Roots Sun to Partial Shade Semi-evergreen vine often used as groundcover; 'Purpurea' a green leaf form that changes to purple in winter is popular
Hedera helix
English Ivy
Roots Partial Shade to Shade Semi-evergreen, dark green leaves that require winter protection; often used as a groundcover in shady sites; many cultivars are available; 'Thorndale' and Bulgaria' are two of the hardiest
Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris
Climbing Hydrangea
Roots Partial Shade to Shade Large, flat white flowers on top of dark green leaves in summer; works well when planted against tree trunks; slow to establish
Lathyrus latifolius
Perennial Pea
Twining Sun White, rose, or magenta flowers beginning in summer and continuing to fall; little or no fragrance
Lonicera x heckrottii
Goldflame Honeysuckle
Twining Sun to Partial Shade Clusters of red and orange tubular flowers with yellow throats that bloom throughout the summer; attracts hummingbirds
Lonicera 'Dropmore Scarlet'
Dropmore Scarlet Honeysuckle
Twining Sun / Partial Shade Clusters of bright red tubular flowers throughout summer and into fall; attracts hummingbirds
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Virginia Creeper
Roots Sun to Shade The emerging leaves are bronze-green changing to dark green by summer; five leaflets per leaf; brilliant red or burgundy fall color; climbs brick or stone walls easily
Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Boston Ivy
Roots Sun to Shade Large three-lobed dark green leaves that turn a brilliant yellow, orange, or scarlet in fall; climbs brick or stone walls easily
Polygonum aubertii
Silver Fleece Vine
Roots Sun Bright green leaves that have red tips when young; large clusters or creamy white flowers appear in late summer or early fall; aggressive climber or groundcover
Vitis spp.
Tendrils Sun Dark green leaves that are often three or five-lobed; edible purple, red, or white fruits in late summer or early fall
Wisteria spp.
Twining Sun Fragrant white, pink, lavender, or violet pea-shaped flowers borne on long clusters in late spring or early summer; blooms inconsistently in Iowa

Vines with root-like holdfasts like Virginia creeper can cause damage to the sides of buildings especially wood siding. It is best to grow these types of vines on another structure a few inches in front of the siding to allow adequate air circulation and thus discouraging damage.

This article originally appeared in the June 11, 1999 issue, pp. 73-74.