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What Perennial Climbing Vines Should I Plant?

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If your garden lacks a vertical element, you might often find yourself asking this question: What perennial climbing vines should I plant? It’s a good question. Perennial climbing vines are the aerial acrobats of the garden, and choosing the best one for your garden all depends on how it climbs.

Vines can attach themselves in one of three ways. First, they can attach themselves to brick or walls with small aerial roots, Engleman and Boston Ivy are examples. Second, they can send out tendrils that provide a foothold for support like grapes and clematis. Third is twining, which is when the plant overlaps on itself. Plants that twine include Bittersweet and Honeysuckle.

Once you know how a particular vine climbs you can choose its location and type of support it will need. Some plants like climbing roses need total support because they have no real climbing qualities just long canes.

Good choices for support include:

  • Brick walls
  • Stone walls
  • Stucco
  • Arbor
  • Trellis
  • Lattice
  • Fences
  • Wire lines

Most vines enjoy a good, well-drained soil. Some vines don't have a problem with unforgiving locations. The following is a list of Dale K's top five perennial climbing vines.
  1. Goldflame Honeysuckle: A vigorous twining vine that bears rosy yellow, fragrant flowers from June until frost. It is also shade tolerant.
  2. Balboa Sunset Trumpet Vine: Another vigorous self clinging vine that produces masses of tubular orange/red flowers. The trumpet vine attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Late fall, cut back to 8 inches and cover with straw.
  3. Clematis: A large group of dependable climbing vines that explode with color in spring and summer. 'Sweet Autumn' blooms white in the fall. Always remember to plant deep and cover with a wood mulch or under plant to keep roots cool. They all enjoy sun. Good varieties include: Ernest Markham (magenta), Jackmanii (purple), Niobe (dark red), Nelly Moser (pink/red stripe).
  4. Engleman Ivy: Versatile vine that will self cling to fences and masonry. It will also hang down. It flowers in fall with burgundy/red color. It produces blue fruits that attract birds.
  5. Climbing Roses:Although not a true vine, these have been bred to grow long canes that with support can travel over arbors. They can make a wonderful focal point in the garden. Varieties include: Hardy William Baffin, Ramblin Red and John Cabot.