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Sometimes, when there is not enough space for a hedge or a shrub, but a screen is needed, vines may be the answer.
Vines help add privacy, camouflage wire fences, hide an unsightly wall, or add character to tight places. They can create a shade buffer from the hot sun on the side of a building or cover a romantic walkway into a garden “room.” There are several vines both popular and appropriate for use in gardens of North Carolina.
Vines provide landscape texture, color, food for birds and climbing screens. They can climb by twining or by root-like arms or tendrils that seek the support of wire, string lattice, wall, arbor, fan, post, tree trunk or various kinds of fencing.
The type of vine selected will determine the kind of support you will need to provide. It would be advisable to keep in mind the practical maintenance of the vine’s supporting structure.
Painted wooden walls, lattice or arbors may require the vine to be periodically severely cut back or even relocated.
In the case of brick, stone or wood consider the tenacious tendrils that may allow a vine to completely encase a structure. This could be a plus or a minus for you, depending upon your landscape objectives.
Choosing the right vine for the right location will make the difference between success and failure. If a vine is cold sensitive, the desired screening effect will be lost after frost or freeze and it may or may not re-grow.
There are a number of good native and adaptable vine choices here. Vines native to southeastern coastal North Carolina will usually handle the climate and soil conditions better than the more exotic varieties. They are usually more drought and heat tolerant, less susceptible to insects and pests and encourage our wildlife such as hummingbirds and native and seasonal birds.
Vines can be either evergreen or deciduous, flowering or non-flowering. They can bloom in the spring, summer or fall. They can be decorative, gentle climbers or aggressive enough to pull your porch down and pop up through macadam driveways.
Choosing the proper vine for your landscape requirements and reading the label describing the growth habit of the sweetly flowering, twining vine you envision, will assure a good choice.
Of the popular flowering native vines, coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is an evergreen with dark green leaves displaying clusters of small red trumpets, spring throughout summer. It provides a nectar food source for butterflies and hummingbirds, is fragrant and can also be found in a yellow form.
Also quite showy and fragrant is Carolina yellow jasmine or Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens). It flowers during late winter and spring. Note honeysuckle and Carolina jasmine are listed as poisonous. It is a good idea to be knowledgeable about the possible harmful characteristic of any of your landscape plant choices before actually using them in your yard.
The following is a partial list of other favorite vines available and usually adaptable to Southeastern North Carolina gardens: passion vines (Passiflora), allamanda (Urechites lutea), morning glory (Ipomoea), large flowered clematis (Clematis hybrida), wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), climbing fig (Ficus pumila), English ivy (Hedera helix), trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), confederate jasmine or star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), smilax (Smilax lanceolata), Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) and wisteria (wisteria sinensis).
Send your gardening questions or comments to: Brunswick County Master Gardener Column, P.O. Box 109, Bolivia, NC 28422, or call 253-2610. Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope if requesting information or a reply. Answers may be printed in this column.