A gardener who wishes to add height to the look of their garden may want to research vines. This foliage grows and is cultivated much the same as any other garden plant. However, with the proper support, this plant climbs. It crawls up trellises, arbors (treated lumber, metal, branches and twigs and plastic pieces), walls, fences, and posts.

How Vines Climb

There are four ways vines climb –- they wind around a structure, they use tendrils or stems, they have aerial roots, and there are varieties that scramble up a structure.

The vines that wind around a structure include wisteria and clematis. These types of vines grow best when they are planted around trellises, arbors and other garden structures. They don’t grow as well when planted against walls and fences unless you include an object it can wrap itself around. People who want the vine to climb a wall will attach a wire to the wall giving the plant something to cling to. If you want your vine to climb, then experts suggest that you utilize some kind of support made of sturdy, durable materials.

Grapevines are a good example of a vine that uses tendrils to climb. The tendrils are very small, so a narrow stake or wire can serve as something they can attach to.

Climbing roses are a good example of a vine that scrambles up and over a support structure. This type of vine needs something on which it can lean and needs to be trained in order to grow properly. So experts suggest you use twine to hold the plant in place to help it make its ascent. However, do not force the plant. If you do, you could break its stem.

Vines are dynamic growers. So they need to be pruned frequently. They also feature sparse foliage low on the support and feature a large mass of vegetation at the top. Experts instruct that you can prevent this by pinching back the ends of the stems as they develop.

Vines have three plant types –- annuals, which last only one growing season and include morning glory; perennials, which die back to the ground each year, but survives from season-to-season and include clematis; and the woody shrub, which include the trumpet and grape vines and wisteria.

Vines can be used to add a background to a garden bed, block an unpleasant sight, or add fragrance. Keep in mind, however, that some grow poisonous fruits. To assure that you select the proper vine for your region of the country, you may want to check some sources including The Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia. This resource offers growing information on a wide range of vines, includes data from the USDA Hardiness Zone, and provides information on sun or shade tolerances and moisture limitations. It also has material on a vine’s characteristics including flowering, fruiting, and mature height and other growing tips.

Popular types of vines

The Akebia vine. (Courtesy: Julie Murphy)

The Akebia vine.
(Courtesy: Julie Murphy at

· Akebia. This plant features purple or white flowers that smell like chocolate as well as blue-green leaves that are divided into leaflets. It is suggested that you use a support to aid in development. If its flowers are pollinated, then this vine may generate fruit, but there needs to be a different variety of Akebia planted close by to produce the fruit. The plant grows 8-feet to 20-feet and does best in partial or full sunlight or shade. It thrives in zones 4-9.
· Black pepper aka Piper nigrum. This vine includes small round fruit and thrives indoors at temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. All four types of peppercorn including black, white, green and red can be harvested from the same plant by selecting the right time of harvest. It is a slow grower and can take up to three to four years to start generating flowers and fruit. Watering should occur when the soil is visibly dry. Thoroughly saturate the soil until a little bit of water runs out the bottom of the pot. It can be grown outdoors in partial and full sunlight, grows to a height of 1-foot to 3-feet and thrives in zones 10-11.
· Blackberry aka Rubus. This fruit vine produces blackberries on woody canes during the summer months. The canes can become invasive if not pruned regularly. It does best in direct sunlight and grows to a height of 3-feet to 8-feet. It flourishes in zones 4-9.
· Bougainvilla. This plant is one of the most flamboyant vines you can grow. It features big clusters of pink, lavender, red, or gold papery leaves. Many varieties include bear sharp spines. It does best in direct sunlight and grows to a height of 8-feet to 20-feet. It thrives in zones 9-11.
· Clematis. This vine is said to be the most versatile vine to grow because of is the wide range of bloom colors, shapes and seasons. A species of Clematis, called Dwarf Clematis can be grown in containers or on decks and patios. Most Clematis do best in full sunlight and in moist, well-drained soil. They grow to a height of 3-feet to 20-feet and flourish in zones 4-9.

The Clematis vine. (Courtesy: Renee Rendler-Kaplan at

The Clematis vine.
(Courtesy: Renee Rendler-Kaplan at

· Climbing Hydrangea aka Hydraugea petiolaris. In bloom, this vine features large clusters of white flowers held against dark green foliage. This species grows by producing aerial roots that grow into walls, fences, and up the side of trees. A slow grower, the vine does best in shade and grows to a height of 6-inches to 20-feet. It thrives in zones 4-9.
· Cypress vines. An annual plant, it features an abundance of scarlet, trumpet-shaped flowers that close in the afternoon and attract hummingbirds. It does best in sunlight and grows to a height of under 6-inches to 20-feet.

The Morning Glory vine. (Courtesy: Twiter at

The Morning Glory vine.
(Courtesy: Twiter at

· Morning glory aka Ipomoea. An annual vine, it grows fast and is ideal for offering privacy as it grows abundantly on trellises or chain-link fences during the summer. It generates an excess of trumpet-shaped flowers that open in the morning and closes by afternoon. It does best in sunlight and grows to under 6-inches to 20-feet tall.
· Sky vine. An annual in most locations and perennial in tropical areas, it is dramatic looking with a lot of big, lavender-blue flowers that bloom in the summer. It does best in sunlight and grows to a height of under 6-inches to 20-feet. It thrives in zones 10-11.

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