Few plants adorn arbors or trellises as beautifully as flowering vines. They also can enhance the landscape with fragrance, provide shade and screen unsightly views.
But be careful which varieties you choose. Some vines can be thugs.
Vines are vigorous growers, which can be both good and bad for impatient gardeners. Fast-growing varieties provide thick barriers that screen well-tended yards from unpleasant backdrops. But they also might overwhelm narrow planting beds and spread beyond their intended sites. That means constant monitoring and frequent pruning.
"There's nothing like vines for softening garden fixtures," said Bob Polomski, a horticulturist and arborist at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C. "Most are perennials and come back every year, heavy with blooms. They also provide a cooling shade, which is especially welcome in the South."
Buying Guide: Find The Best Planter For Your Garden
A bold turquoise band makes potted plants stand out even more in these earthenware pots. Available in three different sizes, they are perfect for grouping together near the window. Available from West Elm
Made to be extra durable, a metal planter is great for keeping outdoors and can be used for anything from planting flowers to keeping drinks cool in the summer. Available from Pottery Barn
Flowers will pop against the neutral almond color of this simple, decorative planter. Made from lightweight resin, you can easily move it back and forth from your living room to the patio. Available from Walmart
A hanging planter looks elegant in any garden. The steel structure of this one makes it extra durable and weather resistant. Available from Walmart.
A Greek-style urn is a classic choice for the front porch or patio. This 17-inch planter has drainage holes at the bottom to keep you from overwatering. Available from Home Depot.
There's nothing more cheerful-looking than a window box full of flowers. This wooden option is also weather resistant. Available from Home Depot.
The distressed finish of this oak whiskey barrel gives it a rustic feel that will look charming sitting in the backyard. Available from Lowe's.
This stylish two-piece wicker planter set would look stunning in a light-filled sunroom. Its metal lining makes it easy to clean. Available from Target.
Made from molded plastic, this unique square-shaped bowl planter looks just as chic as a more expensive stone option. Available from Target.
The unique leaf pattern and antique finish of this iron planter make it a beautiful decorative piece to keep inside the home. Fill it with flowers, or let it stand by itself for a more simple look. Available from Pier 1.
This round glass-enforced concrete planter has an antiqued finish that gives it a an aged but timeless look. Available from Target.
If you're going with a more decorative metal planter, opt for a shiny copper like this one, which is sure to brighten up your garden. Available from Target.
These natural terra-cotta square planters come with drainage holes and can be used indoors or out. Just remember to line the insides with a plastic liner if using indoors. Available from cb2.
Made of galvanized steel and coated with a zinc finish, this sleek planter is perfect for your backyard patio or a along a wall in your living room. Available from Crate & Barrel.
At the same time, he said, "being rapid (in growth) is one thing. Being invasive is another."
He cited English ivy, which has overwhelmed so many areas in the nation's East and Northwest that college students and other work parties frequently hold "plant pulls" to help control it.
"Ivy can take over as a ground cover," he said. "Wisteria can grow so quickly and its vines become so thick that it can destroy a small apparatus" such as a trellis, pergola, etc. "They get so heavy that they can even take down trees."
Knowing where to place vines is critical, Polomski said.
"Wisteria produces beautiful blooms, but that attracts bees. Putting chairs and tables beneath a flowering arbour can invite stings and creepy crawly things," he said. "Putting vines around mailboxes may not be such a great idea for mail carriers, either - especially when you have all those pollinators flying around."
None of which should discourage property owners from adding vines to their landscape. They simply need to plan first.
Vines climb in different ways, which may help determine which variety to choose: clinging, twining or sprawling.
Clinging vines, such as Virginia creeper, trumpet vines and ivy, have adhesive tendrils or rootlets that hold them to flat surfaces as they grow. That can make them difficult and even damaging to remove if the vines are attached to shingles or wood siding.
"The aerial roots on some clinging vines will work their way into chinks in walls and stucco and slowly compromise the structure," said Sydney Park Brown, an extension horticulturist with the University of Florida.
Twining vines, such as clematis, jasmine, wisteria and morning glories, spiral upward, looping around poles, latticework or fences.
Roses, bougainvillea and sweet peas are sprawling plants that often must be tied to a trellis, especially when getting started.
A few things to consider when adding plant supports:
— Give vines space to breathe to prevent mould and decay. Set freestanding trellises a few inches away from structures.
— Opt for strength and size when setting up an arbour, trellis or pergola. Vines can live for decades and grow heavy with age.
— Place scented varieties near doors and windows to better enjoy the fragrance.
— Look for seed- or fruit-producing vines to attract more wildlife to your yard.
For more about the care and feeding of flowering vines, see this Purdue University Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-21.pdf .
You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick(at)netscape.net