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.
Types of Vines
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 aerial roots or root-like structures called holdfasts 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.
Common Perennial Vines for Iowa
Listed by means of support, followed by exposure.
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Means of Support||Exposure||Native to Iowa||Comments|
|Wisteria||Wisteria spp.||Twining||Sun||Some species||Fragrant white, pink, lavender, or violet pea-shaped flowers borne on long clusters in late spring or early summer; blooms inconsistently in Iowa|
|Perennial Pea||Lathyrus latifolius||Twining||Sun||No||White, rose, or magenta flowers beginning in summer and continuing to fall; little or no fragrance|
|Variegated-leaf Hardy Kiwi||Actinidia kolomikta||Twining||Sun to Partial Shade||No||Dark green leaves tipped in white or pink; hardiest of the Actinidia; fragrant white flowers in spring; edible small fruit|
|Five-leaf Akebia||Akebia quinata||Twining||Sun to Partial Shade||No||Aggressive vine with five shiny medium green leaflets per leaf; inconspicuous flowers; produces fleshy, purple 2 to 3 inch long pods|
|American Bittersweet||Celastrus scandens||Twining||Sun to Partial Shade||Yes||Bright orange and yellow berries in fall; grows rapidly; male and female plant needed for fruit set|
|Clematis||Clematis spp.||Twining||Sun to Partial Shade||Some species||Large, showy flowers available in many colors; numerous varieties to choose from; Summer blooming; Long-blooming|
|Goldflame Honeysuckle||Lonicera x heckrottii||Twining||Sun to Partial Shade||No||Clusters of red and orange tubular flowers with yellow throats that bloom throughout the summer; attracts hummingbirds|
|Honeysuckle||Lonicera 'Dropmore Scarlet'
|Twining||Sun to Partial Shade||No||Clusters of bright red tubular flowers throughout summer and into fall; attracts hummingbirds|
|Dutchman's Pipe||Aristolochia durior||Twining||Partial Shade to Shade||No||Aggressive vine used as screens in shady sites; inconspicuous white to brownish-purple, pipe-shaped flowers in spring; fragrance considered unpleasant|
|Grape||Vitis spp.||Tendrils||Sun||Some species||Dark green leaves that are often three or five-lobed; edible purple, red, or white fruits in late summer or early fall|
|Porcelain Vine||Ampelopsis brevipeduniculata||Tendrils||Sun to Partial Shade||No||Showy multi-colored blue, cream, or purple berries in late summer; variegated leaf forms available; can be invasive|
|Trumpet Creeper||Campsis radicans||Aerial Roots/Holdfasts||Sun||Yes||Bright orange, scarlet, or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers in summer; attracts hummingbirds; may need strong support; suckers profusely and can become invasive|
|Silver Fleece Vine||Polygonum aubertii||Aerial Roots/Holdfasts||Sun||No||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|
|Wintercreeper||Euonymus fortunei||Aerial Roots/Holdfasts||Sun to Partial Shade||No||Semi-evergreen vine often used as groundcover; 'Purpurea' a green leaf form that changes to purple in winter is popular|
|English Ivy||Hedera helix||Aerial Roots/Holdfasts||Partial Shade to Shade||No||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|
|Climbing Hydrangea||Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris||Aerial Roots/Holdfasts||Partial Shade to Shade||No||Large, flat white flowers on top of dark green leaves in summer; works well when planted against tree trunks; slow to establish|
|Virginia Creeper||Parthenocissus quinquefolia||Aerial Roots/Holdfasts||Sun to Shade||Yes||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|
|Boston Ivy||Parthenocissus tricuspidata||Aerial Roots/Holdfasts||Sun to Shade||No||Large three-lobed dark green leaves that turn a brilliant yellow, orange, or scarlet in fall; climbs brick or stone walls easily|
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.
Updated from an article that originally appeared in the June 11, 1999 issue of Horticulture and Home Pest News, pp. 73-74.