I consider vines a mixed bag. Many vines grow so big they quickly overwhelm the flimsy trellises they may grow on. Our long growing season promotes supervines so you must research carefully before introducing them to your property. Some are extremely aggressive. I constantly battle moonvine, which is a pretty native with white morning glory-like blooms that open at night. This vine is sold in seed packets as an annual up north. Here it eats telephone poles for breakfast. This and the similar air potato grow from tubers so are hard to eradicate. Many other aggressive vines lurk out there like kudzu, sewer vine, Gold Coast jasmine, etc. 

The beauty of blooming vines cannot be denied and some produce flower displays unrivaled in the plant kingdom. They are useful for narrow areas creating a vertical garden and covering unsightly chain link fences sheds and other bad views. They also provide food, nesting sites and cover for many birds and small animals. 

Vines grow in different ways and provisions should be made for how they grow. The twiners twist around a trellis or stem 

as they progress up their support. This growth habit is good for fences and trellises if you do not have to paint or maintain them. The vines cannot be untwisted when maintenance time comes. These vines are lethal if growing up a tree or other living support. The twining growth does not permit the trunks of the host plant to expand naturally and they gradually strangle the host plant. Examples include honeysuckle, queen's wreath (Petrea volubilis), wisteria, jasmine, confederate jasmine and Carolina jessamine. 

Scrambling vines are usually leaning types such as allamanda, plumbago, etc. These are among the easiest vines to control and usually do not get excessively large. 

Clinging vines include ivy, Virginia creeper, trumpet vine, pothos, scindapsus, chalice vine and others with rootlets that cling to the surface and support the vine as it clings. These vines are especially effective on large bare cement walls. They should not be used on wood shingles, fences or on houses generally. The clinging vines adhere tightly to their support and provide good habitat for insects such as termites, ants and spiders, and other wildlife. The tight growth promotes decay through poor air circulation and dampness. Other vines climb by tendrils like grape or by thornslike bougainvillea and roses. 

Vines can create an enormous amount of work if they are not carefully chosen. Smaller, easily controlled vines like allamanda, small bougainvilleas, confederate jasmine, Carolina jessamine, bleeding heart vine, etc. are preferred to some of the available giants. Remember that most vines and other plants bloom at the ends of their branches. Hacked back bougainvillea will result in a big thorny mess. 


If you haven't guessed by now, I am the ultimate lazy gardener and M.E. DePalma is an incurable romantic so it isn't surprising that when it comes to vines we disagree. M.E. insisted that she be able to plead the following paragraph:

You might consider installing a garden arch, like those found in French gardens. Use it as a pass way to your garden. Let the vines cling to it and in that way they are away from your walls. If you want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, you'll want to add some vines. Passion vine is a larval food source for several species of butterfly including the Zebra, Julia and Gulf frittilary. 

Aristolochia vine is the food source for the Pipevine and Polydamus Swallowtail. Clitoria is a wonderful vine with woody stalk. The vine produces the richest cobalt blue flowers you have ever seen!  It is a delightful burst of color along a fence. It has small leaves and is not messy or thorny like bougainvillea.  Blue sky (Thunbergia grandiflora) can be coming in the dog door. But in the right location it can be magnificent. One friend uses it over an arbor to form the archway leading to the canal. Sure, she has to hack it back each year but so what…it is worth it! 

Q. My bougainvillea has flowers but no leaves. It has been this way for 18 months. I fertilize and water. What can I do? 

A. Fertilize in March, June and October with an acid type ixora/azalea/gardenia fertilizer for best results. Bougainvilleas sometimes have difficulty if the drainage is not perfect. Some of the inland communities have poor drainage, and plants have difficulty getting established or get root rot. Think about where you put it. Bougainvilleas are thorny and grow huge—some reaching more than three stories in height. Give the plant plenty of room to grow well. 

Q. My bougainvillea is growing but it has no blossoms. Why? 

A. Bougainvillea normally bloom best in the winter dry season between November and May. The summer wet season is usually a time of growth. The old fashioned purple bougainvillea (glabra) often blooms year round. Bougainvilleas need full sun and dry conditions to perform well. They perform beautifully in the semi-arid regions of Arizona and California and in the Florida Keys where water is so expensive. I would keep your bougainvillea totally dry and dependent solely on rainfall if it is in the ground. Fertilize with a good azalea/gardenia fertilizer to encourage bloom in March, June and October. 

Q. Something is chewing the leaves on my bougainvillea vine? 

A. Use Dipel for caterpillar control. Beetles and weevils can be contolled by spraying with liquid Sevin in the late evening. Repeat spraying in 7 to 10 days following label directions. Leaf miners leave serpentine trails on the foliage and may be controlled with Orthene. 

Q. Can I put bougainvillea in a pot in full sun on my condo patio if I water it daily? 

A. Bougainvillea does best if it is kept somewhat dry. Unglazed clay pots are good containers for bougainvillea as they breathe and disperse excess water quickly. Plastic pots are all right but need to be watched because of slow drainage. The soil should be dry to the touch when you water to the depth of your forefinger. When you water put enough in so water drains out the bottom of the pot. If you have saucers beneath the pots use a meat baster to siphon excess water off. Many apartments and condos have rules about water dripping off your balcony. Water early in the morning or late at night to avoid conflict with neighbors below. Keep foliage dry if you water in the evening to avoid fungal problems. Fertilize monthly between March and October with Peters 20-20-20 for good blooms. 

Q. What vine will cling to the posts of my porch and bloom most of the year? 

A. Vines that cling and bloom are rare in Florida. Most need to be woven through a trellis for support. Clinging vines climb by little holdfasts (small little roots that attach to what it is climbing on). The clinging vines are also woody and will get large. They include the trumpet vine, a native mostly summer blooming plant. It is found in the northern part of the state but will grow here. The hybrid, `Mme.Galen', is considered the best because it does not sucker or seed. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. 

Another big clinging vine is the cup-of-gold (Solandra maxima), which has large gold cup-like blooms. It has a coconut fragrance at night and blooms most of the year. The plants contain an atropine-like sap, which is poisonous and causes hallucinations. 

Two non-blooming clinging vines are Virginia creeper and Ficus repens, which are also big growers. The clinging vines would be all right on concrete, as the aerial roots would dig right into the concrete. Wood would not be a good surface because of the rot and decay in this climate. These vines would be of very limited availability, but your nurseryman should be able to order them for you. 

Q. I have a bleeding heart vine and want to give some to my friends. When is the best time to take cuttings

A. Bleeding heart blooms a good part of the year and is quite trouble free. Try giving out rooted cuttings from April through July. You should have good success then. 

Q. Would passion vine growing over Bermuda roof tiles hurt the roof? They would be an improvement over the mildewed tiles. 

A. I am leery of any vine growing over a roof. The passion vine is fast growing and could get under the tiles. The vines could cause the wood beneath the tiles to rot through, admitting excess moisture and providing a haven for insects like carpenter ants. 

Q. Can I grow kiwi here? 

A. Kiwi is a vine that does well in north Florida, the lower south and the west coast states. It is a vigorous twining vine that must have a strong support. Kiwi vines can reach 30 feet or more in size. The plants need a male and female present to insure good pollination and fruit production. 

Q. I have an old allamanda vine that has stopped blooming. What can I do to get it to bloom again? 

A. Allamanda blooms on new wood. You probably removed a lot of this when you pruned your plant. I would leave it alone unless it is growing over a sidewalk, or otherwise getting in your way. Fertilize in March, June and October with azalea-gardenia acid fertilizer. Allamanda needs full sun for heaviest flower production. 

Q. I planted a wood rose vine six months ago; it is growing fast but it still hasn't flowered. 

A. Wood rose is a fast growing, tuberous rooted climbing vine, which can take over the neighborhood if you are not careful. I rank this with kudzu, moonvine and air potato as a real pest. It is in the morning glory family and has yellow flowers which are quite pretty. The "wood rose" is actually the fruit structure which usually sets after bloom. Your plant may not be old enough to set fruit properly. Wood rose does too well in south Florida and needs only a good amount of sun to bloom well. Prune it as needed to keep it from overrunning treetops and smothering them. 

Q. An orange-stemmed vine is choking my impatiens. What can I do? 

A. You have orange_stemmed dodder or love vine. A true parasite, it can grow on plant stems and roots. Remove all of it before it seeds. It will not react to herbicides because it has no chlorophyll. The only way to get rid of it is by hand pulling. If it is growing on a plant stem or root it needs to be cut off. 

Q. What vines can I plant that bear edible fruit?

A. Chayote is a tropical vine bearing edible fruit. It is very popular in the Latin American countries and is used like a squash in cooking. Some varieties of passion vine are also edible. 

Q. I have orange colored caterpillars on my yellow mandevilla vine. What can I do to control them? 

A. Dipel or Thuricide are organic controls for caterpillars. The caterpillars will not be eliminated completely and may come back in future months. They feed for a short time and then become butterflies which are pretty in the garden. I would give up a few leaves for the butterflies.