Vines are dandy for beautifying outdoor structures

Suggestions for what to plant, and what not to

The Washington PostApril 13, 2013 

If you build an arbor, fence or trellis, a vine or climber will give it life, soften the structure and enhance the sense of space.

Some vines and climbers are effective within two or three years — or with annual vines, the first summer.

Here are some recommendations.


Rose 'New Dawn'

This variety is the workhorse of climbing roses: vigorous, black-spot-resistant and with creamy pink flowers set against blue-green foliage. Its main flush of bloom is in May, but it repeats well through the season.

Comments: It needs an annual prune to keep it in bounds. It is a particularly thorny rose, so place it where it won't snag you or your clothes.

Trumpet honeysuckle

Spring flowering vine (not to be confused with the weedy Japanese honeysuckle) with tubular flowers in reds and yellows, depending on variety. Blooms in April.

Comments: New spring growth attracts aphids, which can be hosed off with water. Will grow in some shade. Botanically, Lonicera sempervirens.

Kiwi vine

Somewhat tender, the kiwi vine (Actinidia deliciosa) produces a dense and shady canopy with the added bonus of golden-skinned fruit ripening late in the year.

Comments: Like hollies, fruiting plants are female and require a male plant for fruit set. If unpruned, kiwi vine becomes massive after several years and should be pruned back each winter and trimmed in the summer to keep tidy.

Anemone clematis

This vigorous, spring-flowering clematis is raring to go after three or four years, and the flowers are fragrant.

Comments: Look for pink flowering varieties found under the botanical name of Clematis montana rubens.


This is a valued and robust vine (Bignonia capreolata) with trumpet-shaped orange flowers in spring.

Comments: A good choice for a shadier location, though it will need pruning once established to keep in check. Annual vines

Hyacinth bean: Sown every 2 to 3 feet, the hyacinth bean will provide a thick canopy by mid- to late summer, along with pretty purple flowers that develop into shiny purple seed pods in September.

Moonflower vine: The moonflower vine, morning glory and cardinal flower vines are all related tropical vines that will provide a good show by August. Moonflower vine is noted for its large, white trumpet flowers that bloom in the evening, fragrantly.

Cardinal flower vine and black-eyed Susan vine: The cardinal flower vine has soft, feathery foliage. The unrelated black-eyed Susan vine provides blooms all season on vines that grow to about 6 feet.

Comments: These annuals tend to re-sprout from seed in the soil; grub out unwanted seedlings in May.


The following vines either take too long to grow and bloom, are invasive, or are too messy and pest prone for the quick-garden patio: grapevines, English ivy, trumpet vine, climbing hydrangea, schizophragma and wisteria.

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