How to Use Vines to Expand Your Garden
When gardens are full, utilizing vines to fill in spaces above allows for adding new plants while using a small footprint. Vines provide a lot of versatility in size, shape, color and texture. You need to consider two things when growing vines: the right plant in the right place, and the support structure best suited for the vine.
As with all plants, knowing its growing requirements determines where to plant it. They include light, water, drainage and growing zone recommendations, most of which come on the plant tag. Get that right and the plant has every advantage to thrive.
Choosing the right structure on which the vine grows depends on how that particular plant climbs. While botanists have identified about 30 types of climbing techniques, a vast majority of vines fall into four categories – twining, clinging, using tendrils and scrambling.
Twiners, the most common, work by wrapping themselves around some type of support. Interestingly, this group divides into two types, those that twine clockwise and those that twine counterclockwise. Twiners excel at climbing up poles or any vertical structure allowing them to move around in a spiral fashion. Common twiners include morning glory, moonflower, mandevilla and honeysuckle.
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Clingers use aerial roots with adhesive tips and even suction cups to attach themselves to their support. Something solid like walls or tree trunks work best as a support. A solid wood fence is preferable to chain-link. English ivy uses small sticky rootlets growing along their stems, while Boston ivy develops suction cups growing along branchlets as a means of attachment. Clingers have developed a mistaken reputation for damaging mortar on brick buildings. Actually, they may act as protection to buildings by moderating the effects of moisture, heat and drying winds. One reputation remains true: removing them requires a lot of effort. Besides the aforementioned ivies, Virginia creeper and vining poison ivy utilize clingers.
Vines With Tendrils
Some plants climb by using tendrils – thin flexible shoots that quickly wrap around anything they touch. The support structures require something thin enough for the tendrils to wrap completely around in order to climb. Trellises, chicken wire, string and chain-link fence work great. Clematis and sweet pea use tendrils for climbing.
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Scramblers grow their way through other plants or structures, relying on them for support. They usually need a little help from the gardener to train the scrambler by tying it in place to achieve the desired look. Bougainvillea, golden trumpet and climbing roses fall, or should I say climb, into the scrambler category.
Think of all the empty spaces you can fill with vines this spring. Once you determine their growing requirements and climbing methods, placing the plants and giving them the correct support will ensure success.
[infobox alignment=”full” title=”Ask the Expert”]
Q. How soon can I plant my tomatoes?
A. Tomatoes require heat to grow, both in the soil and the air. Wait until consistently warm/hot weather, usually around mid-May. They will survive in the ground before then but will not grow.
Q. Why won’t my Endless Summer Hydrangea bloom? It looks lush and healthy.
A. You are not alone. Not unfairly, that hydrangea acquired the nickname “Endless Bummer.” The blooms set the previous summer and freeze over winter. Look for a variety that blooms on new wood.