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Searching for the perfect divine vines  RSS feed

 
Ben Vieux-Rivage
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Location: Soggysox Farm east of Houston, TX
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I am in search of the perfect vines to grow alongside the brick walls pictured below. The tall wall faces thirty degrees west of north. I envision some sort of trellis along the entire tall wall. That way you can't warn me about vines degrading brick or mortar.

The short wall looks thirty degrees south of west because it is literally around the corner from the tall wall. The brick portion of this wall could do with free-standing trellises really close to the building. There are lots of ways, I'm sure, but space will be limited as I am dead set on planting tall, clumping bamboos of the world along the fence line. The old leaning fence will soon be replaced with a different design and the length of the broadside will need tall shade. Summer here is exactly hell and shade will make this place hospitable to life. There are hurricanes every so often. Trees fall and crush people. I will plant bamboo.

Having set the scene, I turn to you, reader, friend. What are the top three vines for the tall wall? What are the top three vines for what we have been calling the short wall, which is really the lower brick half of an equally tall wall?

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Tall Wall
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Short wall and fence line, where there will definitely be bamboo
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My family's favorite vine for covering walls is Virginia Creeper, a close relative of grape.
 
David Livingston
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kiwi fruit  eventually will give a great crop
 
Ben Vieux-Rivage
Posts: 12
Location: Soggysox Farm east of Houston, TX
fungi hugelkultur urban
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I can get kiwi next weekend. I'll find out when to plant that. I'm guessing it is a perennial, because folks are selling it in a 3 gallon pot. It probably wouldn't hurt to try kiwi on half the wall and something different like a shady creeper on the other half. If I find out later that one of them isn't right for my situation, I'll still be halfway home.

There's also wisteria. That could look real nice in a little shape over the windows...for a brief moment every year. This German site I found on the other vine thread features some very German trellising guidelines. I don't know where to find Euros, but I sure would like to have some of those trellis bolts on my wall. There is still time to explore options, although a trellis that is integral with the wall sounds tough to beat.

Facade Greening
 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I haven't planted any vines but remember seeing a stunning vine with orange blossoms in Louisiana.  I can't remember the name.

This one is lovely:  Pseudogynoxus chenopodioides (Mexican flame vine)  it is  Deciduous in Zone 8a---Evergreen in higher zones. The link has lots of pictures of it.  Butterflies and Hummingbirds like it.

Mexican Flame Vine

Another suggestion would be Aristolochia macrophylla Lam. (Pipevine, Dutchman's Pipe)

Pipevine or Dutchman’s pipe is a picturesque, deciduous vine, climbing 20-35 ft. by means of twining stems. Fast-growing, green stems bear large (12 in.), heart-shaped leaves, dark-green above and pale-gray beneath. Flower occur singly or 2-3 per cluster and are pipe-shaped, mottled green and burgundy, with yellow tubes. Cylindrical, cucumber-like capsules, 3-4 in. long, stay green most of the summer eventually ripening to gray or black.   It attracts butterflies and is a larval host to the Pipevine swallowtail.

Pipevine
 
Casie Becker
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Yes, kiwi is a perennial. Be sure you get a male and a female. Without both you won't have any fruit set.

Do some research on how your potential vines climb. Some vines can be safely planted next to building walls without doing damage (in fact some will extend the life of the walls they cover) while others will tear the walls down over time. I don't know where wisteria falls on this scale. There is a deciduous native vine (Virginia Creeper) that combines the features of being self climbing without damaging walls, summer shade, fall color, and then dropping the leaves so that you can get winter sunlight on the brick. No food potential, though.

On the other hand, many vines are also aggressive plants in the garden. If you are planting wisteria, there is a native variety which would be easier to manage and care for than the asian varieties that are often sold. https://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=11332 This is what the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower has to say about it. One of the reasons wisteria is such a vigorous plant is that it is also a nitrogen fixer, so if you're willing to put in the necessary work, I could see it being a great companion to other vines.

For a shade tolerant vine, I'm experimenting with scarlet runners beans. After three years of trying it finally thrived when I planted it in a mostly shade location between the edge of two trees. It only set's fruit (beans) when the temperatures are below the nineties but the beans are huge and delicious. The flowers themselves are edible (tasting like the beans) and they bloom from spring to fall frost. I'll find out this spring if it is perennial in my location. If it is, I'll definitely be announcing it in the forums. It's hard to find perennial vegetables that aren't leafy greens.

For detailed instructions on how to put wire trellises on walls you might look into espalier. Trellising directly to mortar walls is common with this fruit tree technique. I'm fairly sure it's the same information you need for vines, though you'd use stronger anchors to help support more of the weight.
 
Ben Vieux-Rivage
Posts: 12
Location: Soggysox Farm east of Houston, TX
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It would look really cool to frame the window with wisteria and cover the wall with kiwi. This will be the only set of plants that I grow right up against the house, so I should probably test the soil before I do much more there. I did order a kiwi yesterday. If the soil tests high lead or something funky, then I may run the kiwi up one of these sweet gum trees.

The smaller workload with a virginia creeper would probably feel better. Or the Mexican flame vine. That's what I will do if the soil is toxic. Pipevine looks a touch creepy and would best suit my backyard wall of creepy horrors.
 
Ben Vieux-Rivage
Posts: 12
Location: Soggysox Farm east of Houston, TX
fungi hugelkultur urban
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The soil testing lab with the TAMU ag extension doesn't test for heavy metals. I've concluded that the soil underneath this brick wall never saw much paint, so there's nothing much to worry about. The landscape timbers that I'm using around the other side of the house in my shady log library are treated with micronized copper azole. Whatever that is, it isn't arsenic, which was my second soil concern. I sent two samples off today for general analysis. And we're moving forward.

I've been wondering about the wisdom of a vertical polyculture. If I send a few different things up my one wall, there ought to be a clear winner... As I mentioned before, running concurrent 'trial' vines up the wall would hedge against going long on one loser. Ironically I'm leaning toward dueling kiwis, a male on one side and a female on the other. I've concluded from what little I've read that this NW facing wall is wrong for grapes. So grapes will go in the back yard, to the south of the house. I bought a passionflower vine at last week's Urban Harvest fruit tree sale. I would like to grow it up a tree, but I haven't found anything conclusive about the vine's ability to climb trees. If it can't climb a naked tree trunk, I'll have to grow it on a fence. Either way is ok with me. I just want it to be happy.

The final mystery is what to use for trellis. The German site that I linked a few posts back has a cool setup, but the directions are in German and German is one of the many languages I don't comprehend. It's wicked awesome, the stainless wire rope system they sell. It attaches to the wall and it looks really clean. It isn't cheap. That's for sure. And installation may be difficult, depending on the English meaning of the German directions.
 
Rebecca Norman
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What is your purpose for growing vines up the wall? Shade? Food? Esthetics?

I think my mother must have planted Virginia creeper decades ago. We're still trying to get rid of it from under some beloved large trees. After my father died and we took over maintenance of the place, we found the virginia creeper growing up trees and smothering them. They were very aggressive, and had already killed one area of woods and brought all the trees down, but in other places we have been able to get it out of trees that it hadn't harmed yet. Being unwilling to use herbicides, we haven't gotten rid of it entirely, but it no longer has the energy to climb up into the trees. It still pops up and runs along the ground but without sun it doesn't cause problems and I pull up some once a year and it's under control now.
 
Ben Vieux-Rivage
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Location: Soggysox Farm east of Houston, TX
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My primary goal is to shade the house. Houston summers are hellish.

After shade, I'd like to stack as many benefits as possible, whether that be food for us, food for insects, pretty things.

I think this wall is technically shaded because it will only see direct light in the summer afternoon. It's the side where green schmutz grows. Green schmutz won't help pay my light bill though. I need a shady vine that's shade tolerant.
 
Casie Becker
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Rebecca, can I ask where your parents house was? We used to have Virginia creeper cover a fence at my parents' house at the north edge of Austin (just south of where I am now). I don't remember it ever threatening the health of any of the trees. I'm wondering if the being a native vine meant we also had native insects keeping it in check. 
 
dirk maes
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Ben

When looking at pictures of your house it would be a shame to cover the walls of this pretty building.
Never thought of building vegetables sunscreens  on the sun facing sides of your house?
You could use  hops, grapes, kiwis, climber beans, etc.
Plants growing up you're walls do have some practical implications. Support, more weight on you're walls, what with storms and heavy winds. These factors do weigh .on your structure.
There is an other technique, i learned from some African migrants ho spent one hot summer in my community is too spray the walls of your house with water after sunset. Just make the stones wet. And effectively, the house cools down.It makes life in the house much more agreable.
This only  for poorly insulated brick houses.
 
leila hamaya
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my vote for the top three vines for what you describe -->

kiwis (a few of them planted together, at least 1 male and 2 or more female)

grape

coral vine
 
leila hamaya
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Anne Miller wrote:I haven't planted any vines but remember seeing a stunning vine with orange blossoms in Louisiana.  I can't remember the name.


i believe the plant you are referring to is called trumpet vine - campis radicans.
another very easy quick growing vine tolerating a lot of less desirable conditions

 
Tracy West
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I like the idea of kiwi,it should do well.
Passionflower are a beautiful and nicely behaved vine. They are also the only host for the Gulf Fritallary butterfly. I planted it in the shade in AZ and it did beautifully,at least until we moved and the new owners didn't irrigate and got rid of it because it "was infested with caterpillars". I wish they asked me! I was amazed that the vine attracted butterflies laying eggs the very first day when I was still hardening off on the porch. How do they do that?
I climbed mine on a wire fence.
I had an amazing hyacinth bean which was also well behaved and not only self sowed but it also perennialized and climbed to the top of a 40 foot palm. It was stunning both in bloom and with bright purple beans loaded on it. I'd be happy to send you some seeds.
 
Anne Miller
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leila hamaya wrote:i believe the plant you are referring to is called trumpet vine - campis radicans.
another very easy quick growing vine tolerating a lot of less desirable conditions



Thanks, Leila!  That's it.  Beautiful.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I need to caution about Campsis radicans , it is very aggressive and sends shoots out away from the main trunk.  I lived in an apartment with one growing on the building and shoots would punch up through the asphalt parking lot several feet from the base of the plant.  I  love the look of this vine, but probably will never plant it here because of the rampancy.


 
Casie Becker
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There's another vine that looks almost identical to the trumpet vine called a crossvine. One is a spring bloomer and the other summer to fall. If I could remember which was which I could tell you our garden nemesis. One is planted on the fence line between us and our neighbors. Not only does it send deep runners long distances underground to infest our gardens, it seeds abundantly also. I've been cutting it back aggressively, but eventually we're going to figure out how to kill the whole thing, and hope there aren't volunteers all over the other side of the fence.

The worst part is that it looks like the last owners of our property were the ones to plant it. I've already killed off the hedge that had grown more than ten feet into their front yard. There are some plants you just can't grow without being a bad neighbor.
 
leila hamaya
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agree about the potentially invasive nature of trumpet vine, more so than even the other invasive type / easy and tolerant of difficult growing conditions vines we have been discussing.

most any plant that could be useful for the stated purpose - would be extremely easy to grow, tolerant of dry and heat, tolerant of other conditions, tolerant of shade - would also all be varying degrees of ïnvasive, and particularly so in certain circumstances such as limited space, given fertile and improved soil and frequent watering, any pampering at all in a nice warm climate would make it ridiculously out of control growth. so i think all these plants have that potential, but they could be prevented from getting too crazy in a large space, where nothing else is going on (like the shady spot of the house), being grown in regular compacted thin or rocky soil, and cut back. if someone tried to grow this in a colder climate too, the yearly die back and shorter season could probably make this an elegant ornamental, rather than an invasive pest. but all these plants have varying degrees of invasiveness, the potential for it anyway.

i would say trumpet vine is less so than kudzu, less so than bamboo, more so than maypop and grape. coral vine is also like that, my suggestion above, but at least you can eat the entire plant, food for wildlife, food for bees - like bamboo and maypop and grape and even blackberry - because its edible, medicinal and useful, it doesnt quite make my very short list of really invasive plants. unlike trumpet vine, which isnt edible, and although i can appreciate some that my neighbors grow, in fence lines and such, because its quite pretty...i probably wouldnt ever grow it myself.

fuschia , which i am suddenly thinking of, might also be a good one, it just came to mind as its quite pretty, has similar flowers as the trumpet vines, and is edible =) makes an interesting little edible berry. these are also quite common here, many people grow fuschias for fence rows and to cover chain link, etc...not a vine, but has a nice way that works in a hedgerow/fence planting...
 
Ben Vieux-Rivage
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Location: Soggysox Farm east of Houston, TX
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It would be nice for now to skip all the vines that need some sort of trellis. If I do need a trellis, I'll do it...but only if I have to do it. The No Trellis Doctrine leaves me with two choices: fig ivy and virginia creeper. Nobody likes fig ivy, so that leaves me with one choice. But where do I find virginia creeper? Buchanan's Native Plants is one likely nursery. They don't have it right now because they can't find a good supply.

I did get a maypop vine at the Urban Harvest fruit tree sale. It will hopefully grow up a sweet gum tree. I also got two grape vines and I'm hoping to get some sort of pergola thing in the back yard soon enough for those. For some reason the hardy kiwi were not abundant enough. I don't know of anybody in the area who had those for sale this spring. They require a trellis anyhow. I can try those some other time on my fence.
 
Casie Becker
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If you know anywhere it is growing in your area, it's one of those plants that can quickly grow into a whole new plant from a small piece. I don't know how endemic it is in your area, but if you know someone growing it, they'd probably be willing to get you started. You can look on the edge of woodlands in the wilds, particularly if it's near a creek or drainage ditch. Unfortunately, you'll likely find it paired with poison oak or ivy. They have similar needs and both spread their seed by way of birds. It's easier to find in fall when they start to change color, but they should be leafing out soon. Maybe they already have in Houston.
 
Casie Becker
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There are companies selling the plants online. A lot of them are what I would call over priced (30$ or more) but here's a couple that seem reasonable for starter plants.

http://www.northwoodsnursery.us/product/virginia-creeper-vine
http://www.onlineplantnursery.com/virginia-creeper/

And of course, there's amazon https://www.amazon.com/Red-Wall-Virginia-Creeper-Parthenocissus/dp/B00738KS9K

I see a lot of seeds for sale, too. I just wonder if they will have good germination before they've been scarified by passing through a bird.
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