Vine & Ivy

Vines are grown and cultivated much the same way any other garden plants.  With proper site preparation and maintenance vines will thrive.  The way in which they grow, however, couldn’t be more different.  In order for the plants to climb they need support.  Trellises, arbors, walls, fences and posts all serve as the perfect structures.  While all vines and ivies can climb, the way in which they do so varies.  There are 4 different methods in which vines climb; winding around structures, tendrils, aerial roots and those which scramble up and over structures.

Those which wind themselves around the support structures include vines such as wisteria and clematis.  This type of climbing vine works best when planted around trellises, arbors and other garden structures.  They don’t work as well against walls and fences unless there are objects which the vine can wrap itself around.  Often wire will be attached to a wall providing a place for the vine to grow. Vine supports should be constructed with sturdy, durable materials.

Those which attach themselves to the structure, such as ivy, work well against almost any garden structure.  These vines, such as English ivy and Virginia creeper, produce aerial roots which can attach themselves to any vertical structure which is capable of supporting the plant.  Clinging vines can be used on either brick or masonry walls, fences, trellises and other garden structures.  Their method of climbing, however, has a tendency to damage wood.  Be careful not to let the ivy take over, its a fast grower and can quickly find its way into trees, windows and lawn.  English Ivy and other vines of this variety are wonderful groundcovers as well.

IvyTendrils are leafless stems which wrap themselves around support structures.  Grapevines climb in this fashion.  Since the tendrils are so small these vines usually require narrow stakes or wire in order to attach themselves. 

Those which scramble up and over support structures, such as climbing roses basically need something to lean up against.  Like all climbing plants they need to be trained in the garden to work.  If you’re growing a climbing rose for example, use garden twine to hold the plant place.  Do not force the plant, however, you could end up breaking stems.

Pruning Vines

Vines are vigorous growers and need frequent pruning to limit growth.  Vines may develop sparse foliage low on the trellis and develop a mass of foliage at the top. To prevent this, pinch back the ends of the stems as they develop.

Vines also vary in terms of plant type.  There are annuals (those which last only one growing season) such as morning glory, perennials (those which die back to the ground each year but survive from season to season) such as clematis, and the woody shrub varieties like trumpet vine, wisteria, and grape vines. 

Vines can soften the hard lines of a fence or wall or decorate garden structures, such as trellises.  Remember, however, wisteria and trumpet both have incredible flower display in spring and early summer and need extra strong support structures as they are vigorous growers and can become quite heavy.