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Vines for the home garden    Send a link to a friend

[JULY 31, 2004]  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 Chicago area.

"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 Hort Corner website under the "Ask the Expert" feature. The site is part of Extension's Urban Programs Resource Network at http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/index.html.

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 flowering.

"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 release]

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