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Dallas Morning News - August 5, 2021

Vines for Quick Cheap Cover and Color


Trees offer the best value long term but vines are the winners short term. Climbing vines are plants that for the least amount of money will give you the most greenery and flowers in the shortest period of time. Not the long term property improvement of trees but a good investment and should be part of most landscapes.


My favorite vines include sweet autumn clematis, which is bare in winter but regrows quickly in the spring to produce lots of small fragrant white flowers in late summer. Can grow a little out of hand but is easy to prune back to control. Botanical name is Clematis terniflora but also sold as C. maximowicziana, C. paniculata and C. dioscoreifolia, although technically C. paniculata is a separate species native to New Zealand. The more colorful clematis varieties are quite pretty but not as easy to grow.


Sweet autumn clematis

Iron cross vine or crossvine


Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), aka iron cross vine, is a native evergreen with yellow and red trumpet-shaped spring flowers. It is much less aggressive than its look-alike relative Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) which I wouldn't recommend ever planting. It is highly invasive and very difficult to get rid of.


Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a summer blooming evergreen with red flowers that hummingbirds love. Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) is another red flowering vine with delicate foliage.


Coral honeysuckle

Passion vine


Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a pretty evergreen with yellow spring flowers. If eaten this plant is toxic – so don't do that - and teach the kids about this and other dangerous plants. Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is a fast-growing deciduous vine with large spectacular flowers. It has edible fruit, leaves and elaborate flowers can be used in sleepy-time tea.


Hyacinth bean


Hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) is a colorful annual vine grown from seed. Loofah or luffa (Luffa acutangula) is another annual vine grown from seed and puts quite a show of edible flowers that precede the distinctive gourds that are also edible if harvested while still young.


Boston ivy

Fig ivy


Fig ivy (Ficus pumila) is an evergreen clinging vine that will climb on vertical surfaces without supports as most vines need to get started. It can suffer freeze damage in severe winters but usually pops back in the spring. Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is also a wall-climbing deciduous vine with pretty red fall color. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) also called Victoria creeper, five-leaved ivy, or five-finger ivy, is a beautifully vine for the most part but can suffer cosmetic insect damage and become a little too aggressive.


Vines can be planted from 1, 3 or 5 gallon containers, grow quickly and look good in a short time. They can provide quick shade, vertical softening and/or colorful flower displays.


Next week we’ll review the vines that have to be dealt with as invasive weeds. That list includes but is not limited to honeysuckle, Carolina snailseed, poison ivy, smilax and bindweed. The comprehensive vines list at can be found at this link -





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