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Native Vines: A to Z (almost)
Native Vines: A to Z (almost)
Published by Porterbrook
Default Native Vines: A to Z (almost)

NATIVE VINES: A to Z (almost)

Frank W. Porter
Porterbrook Native Plants

Using native vines can be both an exciting and challenging gardening experience. The number of species to choose from is surprisingly large, from the diminutive Allegheny Vine (Adlumia fungosa) to the sprawling Pipevine (Aristolochia tomentosa). The secret is selecting the right vine for the proper place and understanding completely the growing habits of each species.

Native vines offer three types of growing habits: rambling, twining, and sprawling. In making your selection of species, be sure that your vine does not strangle the tree or shrub that it depends on for support and does not grow to such a length that it becomes unmanageable. Place plants in this category in a natural setting and allow them to grow unattended. Following is a selection of native vines suitable for the garden or landscape.

Adlumia fungosa (Allegeny Vine) produces white or pinkish flowers that droop in loose clusters from the axils. The leaf stalks twine gently around other plants. It is found on moist ledges and wooded slopes in the mountains. Allegheny Vine is a biennial that will seed itself. Grow it near a shrub so that it can support itself.

Aristolochia macrophylla (Dutchmanís Pipe) is a twining vine that can reach over thirty feet in length. The dark green leaves are heart-shaped up to ten inches long. Its yellow green flowers are reminiscent of a curved pipe. This vine is well adapted to very shaded areas. At one time Dutchmanís Pipe was used to create a living curtain to screen porches from the sun. Today, use Pipevine as a screen on an old wooden fence. Aristolochia tomentosa (Pipevine) has a wooly pubescence that coats the new growth. This species is more heat tolerant and requires less shade.

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) is a self-clinging vine that can reach over fifty feet in length and offers striking, trumpet-shaped blooms that are usually reddish brown with a yellow or orange interior. Crossvine supports itself with small, disk like pads that adhere to any porous surface. Crossvine prefers moist soil and sun. Use it on fences or naturalized in trees.

Campsis radicans (Trumpet Vine) should not be used in the garden. It clings by numerous roots along the stem and is very difficult to control because of suckering. In a naturalized area, however, its three-inch long, orange trumpet flowers are a welcome sight in moist woods with light shade to sun.

Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet) is a twining vine that reaches over fifty feet in length. American Bittersweet will strangle and climb over anything it touches. The red-orange and yellow berries, which require a male and female plant, are its most attractive feature. Use American Bittersweet on a steep bank or other difficult areas.

Centrosema virginiana (Spurred Butterfly Pea) and Clitoria mariana (Butterfly Pea) are climbing or trailing vines that rarely reach over five feet in length. Both grow in dry open woods or barrens. The lavender flowers resemble butterflies in flight and bloom for an extended period. They are a welcome addition to any garden trellis.

Clematis viorna (Leather Vase Vine) is a climbing perennial that reaches twenty feet. Although lacking petals, the sepals form a leathery red calyx with a white lip. Found in wet woods, it is at home on a trellis or trailing along a fence. Clematis virginiana (Virginís Bower), with showy white flowers, climbs on trees and fences at the edge of woods and fields. This vine is too aggressive for the garden and should be grown in a naturalized area.

Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina Jessamine) possesses daffodil yellow trumpets of flowers that bloom early in Spring and again in late summer. Trellises, arbors, and fences in dappled shade offer excellent support for this fragrant vine that can reach twenty feet in length.

Lonicera sempervirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle), with its orange, red and yellow flowers, blooms from late spring to early winter. It is an excellent source of nectar for hummingbirds. Grow it on a trellis or fence in sun or light shade.

Matalea carolinensis (Maroon Carolina Milkvine) has dark maroon flowers and heart-shaped leaves. This twining vine grows in rich woods and thickets. It will fit nicely on a trellis or fence.

Menispermum canadense (Moonseed) is a slender, twining vine that reaches twenty feet in length. It has dark green leaves with greenish-yellow to white flowers that open in early summer. The bluish-black drupes contain moon-shaped seeds.

Passionflowers, Passiflora incarnata (purple) and Passiflora lutea (yellow), create a tropical garden environment. Both species are climbing or trailing. They have stolons that can easily become invasive. Plant them in a wooded area and enjoy their marvelous flowers.

Strophostyles umbellata (Pink Wild Bean) is a ten foot trailing or climbing vine that is frequently overlooked in dry open woods. Its bright pink flowers standout when grown on a trellis or fence.

Wisteria frutescens (American Wisteria) produces blue-purple flowers with a yellow spot in late spring to early summer. American Wisteria, unlike its Asian cousin, is a well-behaved vine that will trail along a split rail fence and produce blooms for nearly a month.

Do not hesitate to incorporate native vines into your garden design. By making the right choices, you can enhance the range of colors and the height and breadth of your garden.

This article was first published by the Marietta Register

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