Vines: growing a living screen
Plants can be used to create a shady screen for a porch, deck or arbor. Vines growing on a trellis provide some of the privacy of an indoor space, outdoors. Many screening plants are highly ornamental, with attractive flowers, foliage or fruits. Once established, perennial vines and hardy climbing roses are low- maintenance additions to the home landscape, requiring only water, yearly pruning or training, and, perhaps, fertilizing. Annual vines are inexpensive and grow quickly after planting, providing an informal screen with colorful flowers.
Most vines climb by twisting around a support. Some anchor themselves by means of tendrils and still others use suction cups or root-like growths to cling to a wall or trellis. Trellises can be made of wood, fencing, wires or twine, depending on the growth habit of the vine. For vines that climb by twining, supports of any shape and size, from a single strand of wire to a three-inch wide piece of wood, can provide support. If a vine climbs by means of tendrils, finer supports are necessary. Tendrils can grip twine, wire and narrow stakes, like bamboo, but cannot hold on to larger supports. Vines that cling by means of suction cups or rootlike holdfasts can climb up a wall without any support, or cling to a wooden trellis. Ideally, a trellis for any vine would include both vertical and horizontal members for best support.
Plants on the following lists are suitable for parts or all of Minnesota.
Woody and herbaceous perennial vines
Plant bare-root or container stock in spring. The first year's growth may be small while the plant establishes its root system, but subsequent years' growth will be more vigorous. Some of these plants die back to the ground each winter in Minnesota and come up from the roots in spring; others are hardier and survive on the trellis. Prune out dead wood in early spring and train new shoots to cover the trellis. All the twining vines except honeysuckle twist up around supports from left to right. Be sure to train the vine in the direction it naturally grows or it will fall back off the support.
|Dies back?||Growth rate;
|Actinidia arguta||hardy kiwi||red petioles, dense screen, edible fruit after very mild winters||twining||4||yes||12'-15'/year||part shade|
*separate male and female plants are normally required for fruiting; 'Issai' is a self fertile female
|Actinidia kolomikta||arctic beauty kiwi||veriegated pink/white/green foliage, berry-sized edible fruits||twining||3||may||10'/year||part shade|
*Separate male and female plants are required for fruiting.
|Ampelopsis brevipedunculata||porcelain berry||blue inedible fruit||tendrils||4||yes||15'/year||sun to part shade|
|Aristolochia durior (A. macrophylla)||Dutchman's pipe||dense screen, coarse foliage||twining||4||no||6'/year; up to 30'||sun to part shade|
|Campsis radicans||trumpet vine||large red-orange flowers||clinging||4||may||15'/year; up to 30'||full sun|
*May flower best in a protected site with somewhat dry, poor soil.
|Celastrus scandens||American bittersweet||orange and yellow fruits||twining||2||no||10'/year; to 30' or more||sun to part shade|
*Separate male and female plants are required for fruiting; 'Indian Maid' and 'Indian Brave' are varieties of known sex.
|Clematis hybrids||clematis||large purple, white, pink or maroon flowers, delicate foliage||modified petioles act as tendrils||4||yes||12'/year||full sun to part shade|
*Roots need to stay cool; mulch or provide shade at the base of the plants. Some clematis hybrids bloom on the previous season's growth; if these varieties die back, they will not flower. Choose varieties such as 'Jackman', 'Comtesse de Bouchard' and 'Huldine' that bloom on the current season's growth.
|Clematis texensis||scarlet clematis||red or pink flowers, delicate foliage||modified petioles act as tendrils||4||yes||12'/year||full sun to part shade|
*Roots need to stay cool; mulch or provide shade at the base of the plants. 'Duchess of Albany' is a popular variety.
|Humulus lupulus||hop vine||fast growth, green flowers used to flavor beer||twining||3||yes||20'-30'/year||sun to part shade|
|Lonicera x brownii 'Dropmore Scarlet'||Dropmore scarlet honeysuckle||red flowers||twining||3||no||6'/year; up to 20'||sun to part shade|
*Trellis must be sturdy to support the weight of this vine.
|Parthenocissus tricuspidata||Boston ivy||dense screen, red fall color, clings to masonry||clinging, tendrils with suction cups||2||no||10'/year; up to 50'||full sun to deep shade|
*Tiny suction cups are difficult to scrape off window screens, wood, metal, masonry or painted surfaces.
|Vitis riparia||riverbank grape||dense screen, fragrant whitish flowers, sour fruits used for jelly, juice||tendrils||2||no||15'/year; up to 40'||sun to deep shade|
*Male and female plants normally necessary for fruit, but plants of known sex are generally not available. The cultivar 'Beta', however, has both male and female flower parts and will produce fruit if planted alone.
|Vitis hybrids||grape||dense shade, edible fruit||tendrils||varies||may||10'-15'/year; up to 30'||full sun|
*See "Growing Grapes in Minnesota" for culture. For best fruiting, grapes are pruned hard, so may not make a good screen.
|Wisteria macrostachya 'Aunt Dee'||Aunt Dee wisteria||pale purple flowers on previous season's growth||twining||4||may||8'/year||sun|
Roses have no tendrils, so they can't twine or cling; they must be tied to a trellis. These varieties need no special winter protection as far north as USDA zone 3 (zone 4 in the case of 'Seven Sisters'), so they can stay up on the trellis. Other long-caned varieties could be used as screens, but would need to be lowered and protected during winter. All grow best in full sun, and produce abundant blooms in June. Plant bare-root or container stock in spring. Use rose fertilizer regularly during the growing season for best growth and bloom.
Hardy climbing rose cultivars
|Cultivar||Flower characteristics||Rebloom pattern||Length of canes|
|'John Davis'||pink, fragrant||good||good||5'-8'|
|'Seven Sisters'||rose, pink and lilac in clusters of 7||none||none||10'|
Plant seeds of these vines at the base of the trellis as soon as soil has warmed in May or early June. Space plants fairly closely, six to eight inches apart, to provide the densest screen.
|Genus species||Common name||Features||Climbing mechanism||Height|
|Cobaea scandens||cathedral bells||rose flowers||tendrils||to 15'|
|Dolichos lablab||hyacinth bean||purple flowers and pods||twining||to 15'|
|Ipomoea tricolor||morning glory||blue, purple or pink flowers||twining||to 10'|
|*Morning glory will flower sooner and produce more flowers if plants are grown for the first week or two after germination under short-day conditions: only 8 to 10 hours of light per day, and complete darkness for 14 to 16 hours each night. It's easiest to manage this indoors, so start these seeds inside in early May, then transplant out to the foot of the trellis once soil has warmed|
|Ipomoea alba||moonflower||white flowers that open at dusk||twining||to 10'|
|Ipomoea quamoclit||cardinal climber||red flowers, delicate foliage||twining||to 10'|
|Phaseolus coccineus||scarlet runner bean||red flowers, green beans edible when pods still slender||twining||to 10'|
|Thunbergia alata||black-eyed susan vine||yellow and orange flowers with dark centers||twining||to 6'|
Reviewed by Chad Behrendt and Crystal Floyd 1999