Vines Are The Beautiful Climbers Of The Garden

This jamine wraps around this garage door opening and is beautiful year round and very fragrant when it blooms in spring

This jasmine wraps around the garage door opening and is beautiful year round and very fragrant when it blooms in spring.

the jasmine is supported by a metal double railing across the top of the garage

The jasmine is supported by a metal double railing across the top of the garage.

This clematis in bud is supported by a cut trunk of Crepemyrtle

This clematis in bud is supported by a cut trunk of crepe myrtle.

In bloom this clematis typically only blooms along the top of its vine

In bloom this clematis typically only blooms along the top of its vine.

The two vines show here are a contrast of how vigorous vines can be in your landscape. The jasmine is a very good grower and in a couple of seasons will cover the arbor shown above, if one is planted on each side of the garage door. While this vine is not heavy, it needs good support and pruning once flowering is finished. Like many rampant growing vines, good sturdy supports are a must, and if you go vine shopping, rarely do they look like they can ever become that big. Common vines in this category are tangerine beauty crossvine, yellow jessamine, wisteria (which I do not recommend you plant), General Wheeler woodbine, the hybrid campsis group, Armand clematis, smilax, and many others, but these are the most common. Most vines do fine in light shade, but full sun invigorates them. One of the good pieces of news about all these vines is they respond well to pruning. I recommend pruning for control and increased flowering (if the flowers are showy).
Contrasting this group of vigorous vines are the delicate ones whose growth habit is somewhat refined and oftentimes can be slow. Noted among this group is the hybrid clematis which is shown above. Their flowers vary from very large like the white one shown here, to ones that cover themselves with flowers like Clematis X jackmanii. Still these vines need some type of support to hold them up, but they are not at all heavy. The old adage is to give clematis cool roots and sunny tops, and you will have fine plants. Another tropical vine I classify in this category is clerodendron (glory bower) which if it were hardy might be vigorous. But since it will not overwinter, it can be grown on a simple support and will bloom its classic red and white flower in summer.
Yes, I think every garden needs a vine, but be sure you buy one that you can maintain in the place where you want it planted.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

2 thoughts on “Vines Are The Beautiful Climbers Of The Garden

  1. I live in Calera, AL and would like some of these vines for my back fence. The soil contains red dirt and grass is hard to grow. Any hope for my back yard?

    • Most of us start with what you have, red dirt and weeds. The good news is that both can be fixed. Control your weeds with Roundup spray according to label directions. I did two things to get my soil better in order to plant shrubs and vines. First, dig the planting hole at least three times the size and depth of the container of the plant you want to grow. Mix the native red clay, common sand, and organic matter (like peat moss or cow manure) at a 1:1:1 ratio. Then backfill the hole with this mixture around the new plant. Make sure you do not plant the shrub or vine too low, but at the same level that it came out of the conatiner. Keep it watered and it should do fine.

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