Vines provide a great
opportunity to make a display in a limited amount of
root space. They can also provide shade and screening
for large or small spaces. There are numerous evergreen,
deciduous, perennial and annual vines to choose from.
The opportunity to combine vines with trellises,
pergolas, fences and trees helps make them extremely
versatile plants. Still another virtue is the fruit that
vines can provide. Grapes, muscadines, blackberries and
kiwi provide both shade and delicious fruit.
Perhaps you feel that your garden is full and don’t know
where to go? You can always go “Up.”
Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis).
The flowers of wisteria are beautiful but the plant is
very vigorous. They come in a number of varieties in
long clusters from lavender blue to white. Although a
beautiful vine, it needs stout support and frequent
pruning to keep it in bounds. Flowers occur almost
simultaneously with leaves in early spring. With
periodic pruning, wisteria may be trained into a bush or
“tree” form as well.
Although thought of as an
“evergreen wisteria,” Milettia reticulata has
flowers that are reddish purple and mildly fragrant. It
is strong in growth but its foliage is evergreen.
Sometimes, Wisterias don’t bloom until 5–7 years after
planting. To encourage flowering, withhold fertilizer,
water or root prune. Wisteria can be an elegant Oriental
vine and is often prominently featured in art.
Jackson vine (Smilax smallii [lanceolate]).
Although the thorny version of this plant can be a
noxious weed, Jackson vine is a useful and graceful
evergreen vine traditionally utilized as cut foliage.
Jackson vine has been traditionally draped across
porches and trellises, and also harvested for Holiday
Season, wedding swags and festoons. Although not easily
available today, it is a worthwhile addition to any
garden or restoration planting. The leaves are dark
shiny-green, 2–5 inches long, and 3/4 to 2 inches wide.
It is fairly common and native to much of the South.
Confederate or star jasmine (Trachelospermum
jasminoides). Shiny dark-green leaves
provide a beautiful background for clusters of
yellow-centered white flowers with a wonderful fragrance
from mid- to late spring. It is a great plant for
providing evergreen screening and climbs vigorously to
15–20 feet. It is also a good candidate to train on wire
trellising. This vine is worth planting for any garden
where fragrance is of the essence. Star jasmine can be
grown to make an impenetrable screen.
Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens).
Bright-yellow, bell-shaped one-inch flowers are sweetly
scented and native to East Texas and the South. The
vines entwine themselves in large shrubs and small
trees. Its evergreen foliage is beautiful, tumbling over
fences and walls as well as in deciduous trees. The most
prolific flowering is in early to mid-spring. The
fragrance varies among selections and can be very sweet.
Carolina jessamine prefers acidic or slightly acidic,
well-drained soils and, once established, is drought
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera
sempervirens). A native, mannerly
evergreen climber, this vine has clusters of beautiful
coral-colored blossoms from spring through early summer.
Dark red fruit ripens in late summer and provides food
for garden birds. The foliage has a bluish cast and
twines around structures. It is cold hardy, attractive
year-round, very colorful in bloom and easily grown. A
number of different colors are available, including a
bright yellow flowering form (‘John Clayton’).
Climbing Roses. Climbing roses are a
favorite landscape plant around the world. Both white
and yellow Banksia roses come to mind as the largest of
all with their cinnamon-like peeling bark and lustrous
green leaves almost immune to insects and disease.
Clusters of white or yellow roses bloom in mid-spring,
completely covering the plant for about two weeks. The
yellow form is thornless and the white form has a
wonderful violet-like fragrance. Although they require
little ground space, Banksias can cover a lot of
Other once-blooming roses that thrive
in our area include the Cherokee rose (Rosa
laevigata). It has large, dogwood-like single
flowers and Rosa fortuniana is double flowered.
All have somewhat similar shiny, dark green,
are also valuable assets to our gardens. These are
somewhat smaller than those mentioned above and rebloom
periodically through the growing season. ‘Reve d’Or’ has
fragrant, double peachy, yellow flowers. ‘Prosperity’
has medium-sized double white flowers and ‘Zepherine
Drouhin’ makes a spectacular long, spring show of highly
fragrant cerise flowers on thornless stems.
Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata).
Crossvine is a native evergreen with trumpet-shaped
blossoms in clusters. The usual color is brownish red
with a lighter throat. ‘Tangerine Beauty’ is
commercially available and a brighter, more distinctive
color than the typical native form. Crossvine is native
to much of Texas and the South, and is usually found
clinging to the bark of trees. It will cling to brick or
stone as well and rarely becomes a pest. Crossvines
bloom from spring through early summer and tolerate a
wide range of growing conditions.