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Vine Selections for Landscaping

Vines offer a wide variety of uses in the landscape. They may be used as a groundcover or a fast growing screen on fences or walls. Often vines are displayed on a trellis or an on arbor to provide shade for a deck or patio. In addition to adding height to an area, vines require less space to grow; therefore, they are useful in tight spaces in a small garden. Versatile vines can be used to create privacy and hide unattractive areas in the landscape while also reducing noise and air pollutants. Many flowering vines will also attract birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects.

Tangerine Beauty Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata´Tangerine Beauty´) attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects.

Tangerine Beauty Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata´Tangerine Beauty´) attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

How to Select a Vine

When selecting a vine for a particular location, there are a number of things to consider. Start by evaluating the environmental conditions of the site. Choosing a vine that is well suited for the location will help the plant be more successful. This includes determining the number of hours of available sunlight and space along with proper soil drainage needed for the vine. Vines may be either annual or perennial. Annual vines provide beautiful flowers during the warmer months in South Carolina and are killed by the first heavy frost. Perennial vines, on the other hand, are more permanent additions to the landscape and may be either deciduous (losing their leaves in the fall) or evergreen.

When choosing a vine for a limited garden space, select one that offers year- round interests, such as colorful blooms, interesting foliage or bark, or a vibrant fall color.

Armand’s Clematis (Clematis armandii) has beautiful white or pink flowers in the spring and is evergreen.

Armand’s Clematis (Clematis armandii) has beautiful white or pink flowers in the spring and is evergreen.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Supporting Vines

Many vines have a vigorous growth habit, and the weight may collapse weak support structures that are not strong enough. Knowing a vine’s grow habit will determine the type of support system required for optimum support. Do not allow any vine to climb to the top of a tree. Vigorous vines may compromise the health of the tree; therefore, maintain the vine’s height at a reasonable level. Planting a vine on a chain-link fence will camouflage an unattractive eyesore into a more pleasing wall of color. Plant moderate growing vines, such as clematis, which climbs by twining, at the base of a small tree or shrub. Clematis likes cool roots and a sunny top and will make a delightful companion to a Japanese maple.

Pruning Vines

Since most vines have an aggressive growth habit, periodic pruning will keep the plant healthy and attractive. Along with limiting the overall size, pruning thins out the interior stems and branches to allow more air and light exposure for a healthier plant. Dead or damaged wood should also be removed. It is essential to know when the vine blooms to determine the best time of year to prune. If a vine is spring flowering, then flower buds were formed the previous late summer or early fall. The best time to prune these vines would be immediately after they bloom in the spring. For all other types of vines, late winter is the best time to prune. A light pruning may be done during the growing season to keep a rampant vine in check.

Types of Climbing Vines

According to the way vines climb, they are grouped into four basic categories: clinging, sprawling, tendrils, or twining. Some vines will use a combination of climbing methods. Typically, all of these vine types will need some type of support system.

Climbing hydrangea (Decumaria barbara) has specialized growths called adventitious roots that act like suction cups.

Climbing hydrangea (Decumaria barbara) has specialized growths called adventitious
roots that act like suction cups.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Clinging Vines

Clinging vines, such as trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), cross vine (Bignonia capreolata), and climbing hydrangea (Decumaria barbara), have specialized growths called adventitious roots that act like suction cups. These tenacious roots grow along the stems of the vine and can attach onto any surface they touch. Care should be taken in planting a vine that clings on rock, brick, or stucco structures. If the vine has to be removed for maintenance purposes, the suction cup-like roots will work their way into cracks and crevices of the structure, making them difficult to remove and will likely cause damage. This is especially true when removing vines from stucco surfaces, as adventitious roots will actually pull off sections of the stucco from the building or wall. One option to protect surfaces is to build a trellis a few feet away from the structure to support the vine. This allows space for maintaining or painting the wall behind the trellis. Also, avoid using a clinging vine on a wooden building or fence as it will damage the wood or cause it to rot due to excessive moisture.

Sprawling Vines

A good example of a sprawling vine is a climbing rose (Rosa species). These vines tend to be vigorous and spreading. Sprawling vines do not have any type of natural support system; therefore, will need to be tied to a trellis or arbor for support.

Roses do not have any type of natural support system and will need to be tied to a trellis or arbor for support.

Roses do not have any type of natural support system and will need to be tied to a trellis or arbor for support.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Evergreen smilax (Smilax lanceolata) is an example of a vine that climb by tendrils.

Evergreen smilax (Smilax lanceolata) is an example of a vine that climb by tendrils.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Vines That Climb by Tendrils

Tendrils are slim, flexible, leafless stems that enable the vine to wrap around the support structure. The tendrils enable the vine to grab and wrap around a point of contact. Evergreen smilax (Smilax lanceolata) or passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) are good examples of vines that climb by tendrils.

Twining Vines

The stems of these vines twine around any available support system. Similar to vines that climb by tendrils, twining vines grow best on wires, trellises, or arbors. The South Carolina state flower, Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), climbs by twining.

The South Carolina state flower, Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), climbs by twining.

The South Carolina state flower, Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), climbs by twining.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Deciduous Vines *Denotes native to the Southeast

Common Name
Botanical Name

Height

Ornamental
Features

Cultivation

*Dutchman’s Pipe
Aristolochia macrophylla
30 ft. Purple-brown pipe-like flowers in May-June;
Blooms on new growth;
Larval host for pipevine swallowtail butterfly 
Twining;
Full sun to part shade;
Moist, well-drained soil;
Grow on a sturdy support;
Zones: 4 to 8
*Trumpet Creeper
Campsis radicans
30+ ft. Vigorous grower;
Trumpet-shaped, bright orange flowers in June-July;
Possibly semi-evergreen in warmer climates;
Blooms on new growth;
Attracts hummingbirds
Clinging;
Full sun;
Well-drained soil;
Tolerates heat and drought;
Grow on a sturdy support;
Zones: 4 to 8
Large Flowered Clematis
Clematis species
5 to
20 ft.
Wide selection of cultivars;
Many different color choices and shapes;
Depending on cultivar, blooms on new, old, or new and old growth
Twining;
Full sun to part shade, but roots need to be cool and shaded;
Medium moisture with loamy, well-drained soil;
Zones: 4 to 9
*Virgin’s Bower
Clematis virginiana
12 to 20 ft. Small, white, fragrant flowers from August to October;
Compound leaves with 3 leaflets that have coarsely toothed margins;
Not invasive like the Sweet Autumn Clematis (C. terniflora);
Blooms on new growth
Twining;
Full sun to part shade; Average, medium to wet well-drained soil; Zones: 3 to 8
*Climbing Hydrangea or Woodvamp
Decumaria barbara
60 ft. Clusters of small, white, fragrant flowers in the summer;
Dark green foliage that fades to beige in the fall;
Blooms on new growth; Attracts bees and butterflies
Clinging;
Full sun to part shade;
Fertile, moist, well-drained soil;
Zones: 6 to 8
Climbing Hydrangea
Hydrangea anomala subspecies petiolaris
60 to 80 ft. Glossy heart-shaped foliage;
White fragrant flower clusters May to July;
Brown, exfoliating bark;
Blooms on old growth
Clinging;
Full sun to part shade;
Fertile, moist, well-drained soil;
Intolerant of heat and humidity;
Grow on a sturdy support;
Zones: 4 to 8
Goldflame Honeysuckle
Lonicera x heckrotti
20 ft. Rose-pink flowers with yellow interiors that bloom spring through summer;
Blooms on new growth;
Attracts birds, hummingbirds, and butterflies
Twining;
Full sun to part shade; Drought tolerant;
Fertile, well-drained soil;
Good air circulation to reduce powdery mildew;
Zones: 5 to 9
*Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
30 to 50 ft. Insignificant flower in late spring to early summer;
Blue-black berries in the fall;
Palmate leaves with 5-7 leaflets that turn a brilliant red fall color;
Birds eat the berries
Tendrils and clinging;
Full sun to shade; Average, well-drained soils;
Drought tolerant;
Zones: 3 to 9
Boston Ivy
Parthenocissus tricuspidata
30 to 50 ft. Insignificant flower in late spring to early summer;
Blue-black berries in the fall;
Dark green leaves with usually 3 lobes that turn scarlet to scarlet-purple in the fall
Tendrils and clinging;
Full sun to part shade; Well-drained soils; Drought tolerant;
Aggressive grower; Zones: 4 to 8
*Maypop or Passionflower
Passiflora incarnata
10 to 15 ft. Fringed white and purple flowers from July to September;
Fleshy egg-shaped, edible fruit in the fall; 3-lobed, dark green leaves;
Attracts butterflies and pollinating insects
Tendrils;
Full sun to part shade;
Average, well-drained soils;
Drought tolerant;
Dies back to the ground in the winter;
Zones: 6 to 9
Japanese Hydrangea Vine
Schizophragma hydrangeoides
20 to 30 ft. Large, flat-topped white flowers in early summer;
Heart-shaped, toothed, deep green leaves that turn yellow in the fall; Blooms on new growth
Clinging;
Part shade to full shade;
Fertile, well-drained soil;
Zones: 5 to 8
*American Wisteria
Wisteria frutescens
25 to 30 ft. Fragrant, pea-like lilac-purple flower clusters in spring followed by long, smooth seed pods in the fall;
Deep green leaves with 9-15 lance-shaped leaflets;
Blooms on new growth; ‘Amethyst Falls’ is the best cultivar
Twining counterclockwise;
Full sun;
Fertile, well-drained soil;
Grow on a sturdy support;
Not as aggressive as Japanese or Chinese wisteria;
Zones: 5 to 9

Evergreen Vines *Denotes native to the Southeast

Common Name
Botanical Name

Height

Ornamental

Features

Cultivation
*Cross Vine
Bignonia capreolata
50 to
60 ft.
Showy orange to orange-red trumpet-shaped flowers in May-June;
Semi-evergreen with oblong, dark green leaves;
Blooms on old growth; Attracts hummingbirds
Clinging;
Full sun for best flowering;
Average, medium moisture, well-drained soils;
Zones: 5 to 9
Armand’s Clematis
Clematis armandii
15 to
25 ft.
Depending on the cultivar, fragrant white or pink flowers in spring;
Long glossy leaves;
Blooms on old growth
Tendrils;
Sun to part shade; Protect from cold winter winds;
Medium moisture with loamy, well-drained soil;
Zones: 7b to 9
Creeping Fig
Ficus pumila
40 to
50 ft.
Insignificant flower followed by a purple fruit;
Heart-shaped young foliage maturing to oval, shinier leaves; Variegated cultivar is less cold-hardy
Clinging;
Partial shade;
Average, moist, well-drained soil;
Intolerant to severe cold, damaged below 10 °F;
Zones: 8-9
*Swamp Jessamine
Gelsemium rankinii
10 to 20 ft. Yellow flowers in the spring and fall;
Shiny, simple leaves; Blooms on old growth; No fragrance
Twining;
Full sun to part shade; Fertile, moist, well-drained soil;
Zones: 7-10
*Carolina Jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens
10 to 20 ft. Bright, fragrant yellow flowers in early spring; Shiny simple leaves; Blooms on old growth; State flower of South Carolina

 

Twining;
Full sun to part shade; Fertile, moist, well-drained soil;
Zones: 7-10
*Trumpet Honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens
15 ft. Scarlet to orange-red trumpet-shaped flowers with yellow throats in May to June followed by red berries in the fall; ´Sulphurea´ is a yellow flowering cultivar;
Oval, bluish-green leaves;
Blooms on old growth; Attracts butterflies,   birds, and hummingbirds
Twining;
Full sun for best flowering;
Humus-rich, well-drained soil;
Zones: 4 to 9
Lady Bank’s Rose
Rosa banksiae
20 ft. Depending on the cultivar, yellow or white double blooms in the spring;
Green leaves with 5-7 finely serrated leaflets; Almost thornless; Blooms on old growth; Attracts butterflies
Needs support;
Full sun to part shade; Humus-rich, medium moist, well-drained soil;
Zones: 8-10
*Evergreen Smilax
Smilax lanceolata
30 ft. Insignificant flower; Bright green, glossy foliage;
Commonly used in holiday or wedding decorations in the South
Tendrils;
Part sun to shade; Humus-rich, well-drained soil;
Zones: 6-8
Asiatic Jasmine
Trachelospermum asiaticum
12 to 15 ft. Cream-colored, slightly fragrant flowers in summer;
Narrow, glossy leathery green leaves; Variegated leaf cultivars are available;
Blooms on old growth; Attracts birds
Twining;
Full to partial sun; Average, well-drained soil;
More cold hardy than Star Jasmine;
Zones: 7-11
Star Jasmine
Trachelospermum jasminoides
Creamy-white, fragrant flowers in May to June; Shiny, oval, dark green leaves;
´Madison´ cultivar is the hardiest;
Blooms on old growth; Attracts bees and other pollinators
Twining;
Full sun to part shade; Humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil; Zones: 8-10

Annual Vines

Common Name
Botanical Name

Height Ornamental Features Cultivation
Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea species
6 to 8 ft. Showy pink, purple, red, white, yellow  or orange flower bracts; Simple green or variegated leaves; Many cultivars have sharp thorns Needs support;
Full sun;
Well-drained, organically-rich soil; Grown as an annual shrubby vine in South Carolina
Cup and Saucer Vine or Cathedral Bells
Cobaea scandens
20 ft. Purple bell-shaped flowers with saucer-like green calyx;
Blooms late summer into fall;
Pinnate leaves have 4 leaflets;
Reportedly pollinated by bats 
Tendrils;
Full sun with some afternoon shade; Moist, well-drained soils;
Seeds may be started indoors 8 to10 weeks before last frost date in the spring
Moon Vine
Ipomoea alba
15 ft. Night blooming, fragrant white 4- to 6- inch flowers from July to October;
Deep green foliage; Attract night flying moths
Twining;
Full sun;
Moist, well-drained soils;
Notch the seed coat with a knife and soak overnight before planting to aid in better seed germination
Cardinal Vine
Ipomoea x sloteri
6 to 12ft. Scarlet red trumpet-shaped flowers mid-summer to fall;
Palm-shaped leaves with deeply cut 3 to 7 lobes;
Attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies
Twining;
Full sun to part shade; Moist, well-drained soils;
Notch the seed coat with a knife and soak overnight before planting to aid in better seed germination
Purple Hyacinth Bean
Lablab purpureus
20 ft. Fragrant purple, white, or pink flower spikes from June to frost; Purple-tinged trifoliate leaves;
Flat, glossy, ruby-purple seed pods produced in late summer
Twining;
Full sun to part shade; Fast growing;
Needs a sturdy support
Mandevilla
Mandevilla species
20 ft. Pink, red, white, apricot, or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers;
Many hybrids available; Thin, long, textured, blue-green leaves; Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
Twining;
Sun to Part shade, protect from hot afternoon sun;
Moist, well-drained organically-rich soil
Dipladenia
Mandevilla species
6 to 8 ft. Pink or red small, trumpet-shaped flowers;
Heart-shaped foliage is wide, shiny, and smooth;
Shrubby growth habit; Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
Twining;
Sun to Part shade, protect from hot afternoon sun;
Moist, well-drained organically-rich soil
Asarina/Climbing Snapdragon Vine
Maurandya scandens
8 to 10 ft. Rich purple, 2-in. trumpet-shaped flowers July-Sept;
Emerald green trident-shaped leaves;
Attracts hummingbirds
Twining;
Part shade to morning sun;
Well-drained, organically rich soil; Seeds may be started indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost date or direct seed after the danger of frost has passed
Firecracker Vine or Spanish Flag
Mina lobata
20 ft. Reddish-orange fading to orange, yellow, and white flower racemes from mid-summer to frost;
3-lobed, dark green leaves;
Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
Twining;
Full sun to part shade;
Rich, moist, well-drained soil;
Nick the seeds and soak in water 8 hours prior to planting to aid in germination;
May be sown indoors 5 to 6 weeks prior to last frost date or directly sown outdoors after the fear of frost has passed
Scarlet Runner Bean
Phaseolus coccineus
20 ft. Red flowers from mid-summer to frost;
Edible green pods that turn purple;
Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees
Twining;
Full sun;
Average moisture and well-drained soils; Direct seed outdoors after the fear of frost has passed
Purple Bell Vine
Rhodochiton atrosanguineus
10 ft. Blackish-purple, bell-shaped flowers from mid-summer to fall; Heart-shaped green leaves with purple leaf margins Twining;
Sun to part shade; Humus-rich, well-drained soil;
Protect from strong wind;
Direct seed outdoors after the fear of frost has passed
Black Eyed Susan Vine
Thunbergia alata
6 to 8 ft. Flowers range in color from yellow, orange, white, or apricot with a dark center from May until frost;
Green heart-shaped leaves
Twining;
Full sun to part shade; Soils rich in organic matter and regular watering;
Direct sow after the danger of frost has passed or start indoors 6-8 weeks prior to transplanting outdoors

Invasive Vines

Many exotic vines, such as English ivy (Hedera helix) or Japanese or Chinese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda or Wisteria sinensis), are not recommended for use in the landscape due to their invasive characteristics. These and other invasive vines are listed on the South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant List and the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States. It is important to be educated on the invasive potential before planting a vine and select native or noninvasive plants.

When English ivy (Hedera helix) is allowed to climb a tree, it reduces the health of the tree, and the weight can cause the tree to break or uproot.

When English ivy (Hedera helix) is allowed to climb a tree, it reduces the health of the tree, and the weight can cause the tree to break or uproot.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2019 HIGC, Clemson Extension

Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) is a highly invasive vine and should not be planted in the landscape.

Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) is a highly invasive vine and should not be planted in the landscape.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Invasive Vines

 

Common Name Botanical Name
Fiveleaf Akebia or Chocolate Vine Akebia quinata
Porcelain Berry Ampelopsis brevipedunculata
Coral Vine Antigonon leptopus
Balloon Vine/Love in a Puff Cardiospermum halicacabum
Asian/Oriental Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus
Sweet Autumn Clematis Clematis terniflora
Chinese Yam/Cinnamon Vine Dioscorea polystachya
English Ivy Hedera helix
Morning Glory Ipomoea purpurea
Japanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica
Japanese Climbing Fern Lygodium japonicum
Cherokee Rose Rosa laevigata
Japanese Wisteria Wisteria floribunda
Chinese Wisteria Wisteria sinensis

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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