Vines add greenery to walls and fences

July 11, 1992|By Orlando Sentinel

Rapidly growing vines will smooth out the rough edges of the landscape. They can climb a wooden fence, trellis or masonry wall, covering these harsh architectural features with fresh green foliage and often a flush of flowers.

Many gardeners have difficulty finding a suitable spot for vines, but all that's needed is an open vertical site. Very little ground space is necessary, and some vines including Confederate jasmine, mandevilla and bougainvillea will grow even in a container set near a wall.

Avoid sending vines up shade trees. Vines naturally seek out the sun, and soon the entwining stems will be at the top competing for sunlight. Thick growths covering trunks and limbs also may harbor damaging insects and diseases.

Because most vines produce lots of shoots, select a wall or trellis with at least 50 square feet of growing space.

Gardeners also can build arbors or archways to support the climbing stems. Vines can form view barriers or become the accents that attract attention to the landscape. Garden

ers cramped for space also will find that vines offer an ideal way of adding greenery to a small area.

Vines grow by clinging to surfaces with grasping rootlets or encircling stems. Some twining vines include the mandevilla, jasmines, allamanda, flame vine and coral honeysuckle. A support of a pole, vertical wires or lattice will be needed to direct the clinging stems.

When a wall or trellis needs quick cover, gardeners won't have to wait long for annual vines to fill the spot. Some with lots of greenery and flowers include morning glories of many colors, night-blooming moon vines and cypress vines. These last for months, then gradually decline. Some will form seeds that sprout again; others will have to be replanted.

Many vines are cold sensitive but fun to grow. Philodendron, syngonium, pothos and ceriman vines grow in the shade, producing big leaves reminiscent of the tropics. For fragrant flowers, choose the white stephanotis, a favorite for bridal bouquets. Without protection each of these will be damaged severely by freezing temperatures.

Most vines are not particular about soil type and once established may be quite drought tolerant. There is little benefit from adding organic matter to the planting hole, but when an entire garden site can be enriched, less water and fertilizer may be needed for growth.

Dig the planting hole wider but not deeper than the size of the root ball and add the vine. Water well and fill in with soil to begin growth. Create a small berm at the outer edge of the root ball and add a mulch to help keep the soil moist.

Several months of constant care will be needed to help the planting develop an extensive root system. Keep the soil moist by watering twice a week. A balanced fertilizer can be applied every six to eight weeks. Once established, vines need little care. Many in-ground plantings can survive weeks without water, but don't allow the vines to wilt. To increase growth, feed during February, May, July and September using a high nitrogen 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 fertilizer.

Vines require little pruning except when they grow out of bounds. To renew growth or to fill in bare areas, prune after flowering to avoid cutting off future flowers.

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