When we think of ornamental vines, perhaps the first picture that comes to mind is one of ivy clad walls of homes and institutions, especially universities. But, there are many other types of vines with a wide variety of practical and attractive uses. Actually, carefully selected vines can give character and contrast to other ornamental plantings and physical objects in the landscape.
Vines are ideal choices for those narrow or confined areas of the landscape where it’s difficult to grow shrubs. Many types of vines are available to Florida gardeners, including woody and herbaceous vines, evergreen and deciduous vines, vines which produce flowers of fruit. In fact, there are so many kinds, one must be careful to choose the proper vine for a particular use.
Before you select vines for your landscape, there are several factors you need to consider. Let’s give some thought to a few of the basics. My information was provided by Dr. Robert J. Black retired Professor Emeritus, of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Actually, the word “vine” describes any plant that needs some kind of support to grow properly. But, as we said, before you select one type over another, you need to give the matter careful thought. For example, you should think about eh ultimate size the vine will reach. A vine is an accent plant, and shouldn’t be allowed to “take over.” So keep in mind that size and scale relationship between your home and landscape when choosing vines. Select those that will give a proportional appearance not ones that would overwhelm your property.
The first thing you should do when selecting a vine is to make sure it’s not on the invasive plant list for Florida. Next consider the texture of vining plant, the color of the plant foliage and flowers it produces, and the time of year it flowers. Find out where it’s evergreen or deciduous. See what kind of care the plant is going to need. Also, check into any known insect or disease problem it is likely to have. A final point on selection all vines has some faults. Try to choose those with the great display of foliage or flowers, and the least number of problems.
Temperature is an important consideration in growing vines. Some vines such as wisteria, and five-leaf akebia, require cooler cold weather, and can’t be grown in the warmer parts of Florida. Other vines, such as Bougainvillea and Allamanda, are much less cold hardy, and are only recommended for warmer Central and South Florida. There are a few very tender vines that will only grow in the most Southern sections of our state. On the other hand, there are some vigorous, well adopted vines, such as Confederate Jasmine and Cope Honeysuckle that will do well throughout Florida.
If you want to accent the architectural design of a building, choose vines that will cling close to walls and passageways. But, if you want to soften or obscure the lines of a structure, choose strong growing species.
Vines also can be used to transform poles, posts, and even some shade trees into more interesting landscape features. The eye appeal of walls and fences also can be enhanced by a covering of vines.
Vines are very useful for creating tropical effects in the landscape. They also provide interesting contrast for hall and passageways, where it’s often hard to grow shrubs or large plants. Vines do very well in confined spaces, providing interesting plant life where otherwise there might be none.
For more information on vines for the home landscape contact the Gulf County Extension Service at 639-3200 or visit our website: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu or www.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu and see Publication HS 1068, Circular 866, Circular 860.