Vines for the home garden
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URBANA -- Home gardeners
looking for a plant that can provide cover, decoration or accents
may find the answer in a climbing vine, said Greg Stack, a
University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator based in the
"Climbing vines are remarkable plants
that can cover the side of a building, cover fences, decorate
trellises and accent architectural features," he said. "Some can
even be used as ground covers."
Stack is one of the experts available
for consultation on U of I Extension's
website under the
"Ask the Expert" feature. The site is part of Extension's Urban
Programs Resource Network at
Stack noted that there are many
different types of vines. They differ in size, growth habit, method
of attachment, leaf and flower characteristics, and season of bloom.
Some grow slowly, while others take off at breakneck speed.
Some believe vines can damage
buildings, but Stack says that is not true.
"The in-ground roots of vines do not
damage buildings or foundations," he said. "The aerial rootlets or
adhesive discs don't damage or break up mortar. They may actually
help protect bricks and masonry as they moderate the effects of
moisture, heat and dryness."
Flowering vines can offer home
gardeners endless options.
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"About the only thing one needs to do
is either provide a means of support or plant them so they can trail
down over a basket, window box or wall," he said. "Annual vines are
particularly useful because they are easy to grow from seed and can
provide a colorful flower display in a short amount of time."
Stack has produced a five-page handout
with care guidelines on vines to consider for home planting,
including what he terms "the beautiful, mysterious wisteria."
"Wisterias are the envy of all who
don't have them, the joy of those whose porch is covered with them
and the despair of those who have plants that have never bloomed,"
he said. "Wisterias may take as many as 10 years before blooming."
Home gardeners can lower their
potential for wisteria frustration, he added, by understanding the
plant's cultural requirements. These include fertilizer
requirements, full-sun siting and root pruning to stimulate
"The vine is
a versatile plant and one that offers endless options for adding a
little different look to your outdoor living space," he said.
[University of Illinois news