Vines can be multitaskers in the garden

By Pam Baytos

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

Vines can be multitaskers in our gardens.

They can provide privacy and cool summer shade, dress up an arch or pillar with flowers, soften harsh structural lines and hide ugly views.

They add interest in your garden by adding height, fragrance and a spot for birds to build their nests.

The key to using vines is picking the right one for the right place and giving it the structural support it needs.

Vines can be evergreen or deciduous; flowering or nonflowering; rampant or restrained.

Choose a vine that’s well-suited to your climate and the available light and space.

Consider the reason for planting your vine. The deciduous vines we have planted on our pergola provide summer shade for the south side of our house, yet when I cut them back in the fall allow winter sun to warm our home.

Before choosing a vine in a catalogue or at the garden center in a few weeks, find out how it climbs and what kind of support structure it needs.

Position vines at least one foot away from their support to allow enough room for their stems to develop. Vines with twining stems will encircle vertical supports. Vines with twining tendrils will use them to wrap around anything near. Vines that cling use small suction disks and aerial roots to attach to any rough surface.

Trellises and pergolas do more than just support vines, they can also keep tenacious plants from tearing apart your siding and other vulnerable surfaces.

Make sure your support is large and sturdy enough to hold the mature vines and put in place before planting to avoid damaging the vine.

If you build your own structure, choose weather-resistant materials.

Secure trellises of latticework so they’re several inches away from the surface of wood siding. This protects the siding by allowing air circulation and makes pruning easier.

Consider a hinged trellis which let you move flexible-stemmed vines out of the way for painting and other maintenance. Hinge the trellis at the bottom and attach it at the top with metal hooks and eyes.

Tie vines to their supports with strong, stretchy material that won’t cut into growing branches.

Don’t use trees to support vigorous vines, as they grow into the top of a tree and shade its leaves and can weaken or even kill it.

Annual pruning will help maximize flowering in many vines.

The time to prune depends on when the vine blooms. Vines that bloom in spring on previous season’s growth (early flowering clematis and many climbing roses) should be pruned after flowering. Vines that flower on the current season’s growth and bloom in midsummer and autumn (silver lace, trumpet vine and climbing hydrangea) should be pruned in early spring. Vines that blossom or fruit on old growth (wisteria and grape) should be pruned during their dormant season. Nonflowering woody vines (ivy) should be pruned late winter or early spring.

To check out photos and descriptions of vines to consider for your garden this spring, go to

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