Over the past week, we have been exploring how a gardener can use different species of plants to cover a chain link fence. We included annual flowering vines, perennial flowering vines, and evergreen plants. In this last installment of the series, we will discuss non-evergreen plants.
Non-evergreen plants that can be considered for this task include:
· Hardy Kiwi
· Variegated Porcelain Vine
· Virginia Creeper
· Silver Lace Vine
Hardy Kiwi is a sweet fruit vine that flourishes in California and New Zealand. However, it will also perform well in parts of the country that experience mild winters and frost-free conditions long enough for the fruit to ripen. Moreover, there are varieties of this plant that can withstand cooler climates.
First, you need to keep in mind that this plant needs a lot of space. The vines grow to more than 20-feet. So they are ideal for covering a chain link fence.
Second, it is advised that you make a “male and female plant” so it won’t self-produce, but still provide the fruit. It is said that at least one male plant will suffice for as many as eight female kiwi plants.
You need to allow the plant to bloom to determine gender. Once bloomed it is the difference between the flowers that tell the tale. Female Kiwi features flowers with long sticky stigmas that radiate out from the center of the bloom as well as well-defined white ovaries at the base of the flower. It is the ovaries that develop into fruit. The female bloom does not produce pollen.
Male kiwi flowers have a brilliantly colored yellow center. They make a lot of pollen and do not bear fruit.
Plant the vines about 10-feet to 18-feet apart. They favor well-drained soil and a location that gets full sunlight. If you live in a part of the country that can get very hot, then plant them in an area that receives partial sun or shade during the hottest part of the day. You can also use a shade cloth to protect new vines.
It is advised that you prune the vine each year to help enhance the production of the fruit. You should also spread mulch around small plants.
Make certain that you provide water every day until the plant establishes itself. After that, you can limit the water a little. The fruits can be harvested once they get firm, but are starting to soften.
Very similar to grapevines, Porcelain Vines are grown for their fruit rather than their flowers. They display lush foliage during the spring months and grow rapidly. So they are ideal for covering a chain link fence. The plant produces clusters of berries in the late summer and fall. The berries are white at first, but gradually turn a darker shade of pink, lavender, turquoise, blue and black as they age. Each cluster includes different colored berries. Although inedible for people, birds love to feed on them.
According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, Porcelain Vines thrive in zones 5 through 9. It is suggested that you plant them in a location where there is full sunlight or partial shade. They favor moist, well-drained soil. However, once established, they do fine in drought conditions. This vine can grow up to 10-feet to 20-feet long and can become very heavy. They feature twining tendrils so they can climb fences.
Although the established plant can go for weeks without supplemental watering, it needs slow, deep watering during prolonged dry periods. It can be pruned at any time during the year to manage its growth. It is advised that you cut wayward sections of the vine and stems that extend beyond the fence.
Be aware that this vine can be aggressive and can spread and reproduce rapidly from seeds and will escape into wild areas where they crowd out native species. So it is essential to prune to control.
The Virginia Creeper Plant thrives in almost any kind of soil and light conditions. Maintenance of the plant requires a little light pruning and tying up.
This plant displays a spectacular collection of colors during the fall. The five-pointed leaves start off green, but turn brilliant crimson when temperatures cool.
Although ideal for covering a chain link fence, it is advised that you keep the plant off wood sidings and gutters because when the vine climbs it adheres to vertical surfaces using aerial roots, which can make it quite heavy. It is advised that you plant several plants at once because it does not branch well. Use plant ties to assist it when starting.
The plant features a woody stem and green flowers appear in June to July. Later the flowers turn into round ball-like fruits, which are highly toxic for humans, but favored by birds.
It is susceptible to leafhoppers, scale, and Japanese beetles. So it is advised that you treat with the proper insecticide. While it can tolerate short periods of dry conditions, it is advised that you provide it with supplemental water during droughts. It grows 50-feet to 90-feet tall. So it should be pruned yearly to keep it manageable. Use a sharp, clean pruning shears to cut any broken stems and cut outside the main stem to prevent injury to the plant. Use plant shears to thin it where it gets too bushy. Large-scale cutting should be performed in early spring.
The stems have feature little “feet” that attach to a support that can get into cracks and crevasses. It is advised that you periodically pry this away with a flathead screwdriver to prevent the vine from growing into areas that could be damaged.
Silver Lace Vine (also known as Fleece Vine) is a vigorous deciduous to semi-evergreen plant that can grow as tall as 12-feet in a year. So it is ideal for covering a chain link fence. It is drought tolerant and twists its way around fences. The plant produces scented white flowers in the summer and fall. According to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, it thrives in zones 4 to 8.
It is easy to plant and can be started with 6-inch tip cuttings taken in the spring or early summer. It is suggested that you prepare a planting mix of half sand and half perlite and water the medium thoroughly. Poke a hole with your finger to accommodate the cutting. Remove leaves from the lower two-thirds of the cutting and dip the cut end in rooting hormone and then place the cutting into the planting hole. Cover the arched wire with a bag, but make certain that it doesn’t touch the cutting.
Locate the cutting in a place where it will receive indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist. Roots should be formed in about three weeks.
Let the plant sit in a protected area outside before transplanting. When ready, plant the new vine in a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Water the plant well until it is established.
The plant can also be started with seed. You can get the seed from the vine plant and store them in a paper bag until you are ready to plant. Soak the seeds overnight before planting to promote germination.
This plant requires very little care once it is established. However, it can become invasive in some regions of the country unless its growth is contained on a chain link fence.
It is advised that you trim the vine before new growth emerges in the spring and remove and cut back any dead wood. Prune in the early spring. Feed it fertilizer sparingly during the growing months.