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I get a lot of questions about vines.  Some of them like Algerian ivy (Hedra caneriensis) are used as a ground cover and eventually take over the entire yard, including fences etc.  I have friends who are afraid to clip it off their rotten fences because it is holding the fence up.  Of late this plant has been put on the bad guy list that should not be planted because it crowds out California natives.  I believe it has its uses, but they should be limited to covering difficult locations in the landscape.  These would include rocky hillsides and areas where you can train them on limited soils.  It will root itself on rock outcroppings and other difficult areas.


Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus). This colorful vine relishes the hottest location in the garden. In coastal areas it may need wind protection along the coast.  It in frosty areas it may go completely dormant, but will speedily recover in the spring.  Use as a wire fence material of shade over a patio.


Bougainvillea. This frost sensitive vine can be a glorious addition to any garden.  It is worth a try in gardens that have a sunny spot that is protected from frost in the winter.  It comes in many colors of which Bougainvillea `spectabilis’ is the hardiest.  Another choice is ‘San Diego red’.


Chinese Trumpet Creeper (Campsis grandiflora). This easy to grow vine can be trained on fences and walls where there is lots of sun.  It needs to be thinned out when dormant.

Cissus rhombifolia.  Grape ivy is a vine that is grown mostly as a house plant.  Other varieties such as `structa’, and `hypoglauca’ can be grown outside and their lush green growth can be used as a wire fence cover.  It takes full sun to part shade.

Clematis is one of the most usable and colorful vines on this list.  The evergreen variety (Clematis armendii) blooms profusely in the spring with white fragrant clusters of blooms.  All other varieties are deciduous and take special care on pruning.  These varieties are non-threatening to climbing roses and other vines.  All bloom at different times so it is possible to have blooms from early spring to late fall.  Any of the vines listed here can be companion plants to clematis.

Blood Red Trumpet Vine (Distictis buccinatoria) explodes with trumpet type flowers all summer long.  It takes regular garden watering and light fertilizer.  Should be drastically cut back in late winter.  Can be evergreen in mild climates.

Carolina Jasmine (Gelsemium sepervirens) is an evergreen vine that has spectacular yellow blooms come spring.  The vine can become top heavy so needs heavy pruning after blooming in the spring.  Can be used as a ground cover where it can cascade over walls and rocks.

Guinea Gold Vine ( Hibertia scandens)  This wonderful foliaged vine works well in most all areas in California.  The twining stems can support itself given any strong trellis.  Fast growing vine can be used over patio for shade.

Jasmine.  There are several considerations as to which variety is for you.  Star Jasmine isn’t a jasmine at all, but its evergreen fragrant flowers lend it to being one of the most popular “Jasmines”.  Jasmine polyanthum and mesnyi are the most fragrant and fastest growing.  All jasmine needs to be thinned out after every blooming cycle to keep vine under control.

Mandevilla is an evergreen vine with wonderful pink to red trumpet shaped flowers.  It is normally used as small blooming vine to 8 feet tall.  It is excellent as the background for a perennial bed.  It may die if the cold weather reaches below 22 degrees.  It normally will come back.  Very little pruning is necessary.

Boston Ivy and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus inserta and P. tricuspidata). Both of these vines climb on walls using their own tendrils.  They are deciduous and have amazing color in the fall.  Usually you see these vines growing on buildings on college campuses. 

Passion vines (Passiflora). Several types are available.  The most planted and most weedy in cold areas is P. jamesonii.  This is the pink blooming vine you see in the Presidio in San Francisco and grows wild in Hawaii, where it is considered a noxious weed.

Wisteria is one of the most planted of all of the vines.  It is a dependable bloomer and comes in various colors.  The most popular are the Japanese and Chinese varieties.  The Japanese varieties have a longer bloom cycle and come in pink, white, and lavender.  The Chinese varieties have a shorter blooming cycle, but clusters are longer and more spectacular.  If they fail to bloom they are being watered too much and soil is covering the root system.  Keep new growth pruned back to three leaflets in order to insure the following years growth.

Although there are several more varieties of vines in nurseries, I think you will find these the most dependable.

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