How Vines Add Vertical Interest to the Garden

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Photo courtesy of iStock/Milaspage

Do something different in the garden this year and grow up with vines. Vines provide clouds of color, fragrance and cooling shade. Some create interest from their berries, seedpods, leaf color and, yes, even food!

Vines are extremely versatile and there are several reasons to grow them: You can grow more plants with less space, create a shaded area, divide an area from the rest of the garden, move the garden focal point up, or create privacy or camouflage an eyesore. There are abundant choices with annual or perennial vines – some grow fast while others grow slowly. Vining veggies, like pole beans, peas, cucumbers, melons and squash, can be grown on a support, such as a trellis, to save space. Doing this will increase light and airflow to the plant, and that reduces the risk of diseases such as mildew. It can potentially increase your yield and makes harvesting easier, too.

Be creative in selecting hardscape for vines to grow on – something decorative and colorful adds quaintness. An old iron gate, piece of farm equipment, wire fence or a wall all work great for a vine support. Remember to select vertical structures that are strong enough to support the vine.

Photo courtesy of iStock/Digihelion

Vines have deep roots (anchors) to hold their large structure above the ground. They have a high evaporation rate so frequent watering is required. Mulching their feet is also a good idea. Time-release low-nitrogen fertilizer is a must.

Some ideal annual vines for containers or small places include climbing snapdragons, black-eyed Susan, sky flower or Bengal clock vine, which all grow to about 6 feet.

Sun-loving annual vines include moonflowers, canary bird vine, sweet pea and love in a puff.

A few perennial vines to try might be trumpet creeper, American bittersweet, climbing hydrangea, ivy, akebia, porcelain berry, Dutchman’s pipe, yellow honeysuckle, silver lace vine, wisteria, cup and saucer, and clematis.
Clematis is known as the “queen of vines” and is available in many colors. It prefers rich, well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Pay attention to the label that gives the group number one, two or three, and prune only after the second or third year according to instructions for that group.

Whether you try growing flowering vines or growing veggies on a support, the vertical interest you create is unattainable with any other plant. The possibilities are limitless. Start purchasing ornamental supports, look for spaces to put vertical interest and try “growing up.”

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