VINES

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. 

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