Tom Holm, Greenhouse Manager
Vining plants are great options for softening, brightening, or adding color to fences or trellis structures. Consider the following recommendations for vining plants:
To add color for one growing season, it is hard to beat Black-Eyed Susan vines, which is vastly different than the Black-Eyed Susan perennial. The Black-eyed Susan vine is also known as Thunbergia (the perennial is in the Rudbeckia family). Thunbergia ranges in color from cream to light yellow to bright orange. It will bloom like crazy all season long with aggressive growth. In the Horticulture Display Garden, we have used this plant as a ground cover in a retaining wall and it filled the area with bright yellow/orange flowers.
Scarlet Runner Bean is an outstanding plant that I personally use at my house to climb on the light pole in the front yard. It softens the look of the metal pole, has bright scarlet flowers, and adds interest with pods to finish off in the fall. New colors will soon be available, although the purple I used last year was a winner.
Morning Glory and Sweet Peas are old fashioned yet well-known. While the Morning Glory plants will vigorously vine, they often do not bloom as well as we would like. Sweet Pea vines will smell heavenly while blooming, but tend to succumb to the heat of summer.
Dropmore Honeysuckle is a vine that will bloom very nicely and is hardy for west central Minnesota. There are several colors of vining Honeysuckle, but in my opinion, Dropmore is the most showy. Plus, hummingbirds love this plant. It does tend to get aphids so you may need to keep an eye on that and treat as necessary.
Clematis are colorful plants that are great for our region. Be sure to plant your clematis in a sunny location but plant something low in front of it or mulch it. Clematis likes the sun, but needs to have cool roots so plant a low growing plant in front of it to provide shade. This should keep your clematis blooming nicely.
Grapes are an option many people don’t think of. Here is a vining plant that you can enjoy in more ways than one. Grapes have aggressive growth and will cover a fence or trellis with beautiful leaves and foliage. Then, depending on the variety you choose, you can feed the birds, wildlife and yourself with lovely delicious grapes. Or, you can harvest the grapes and make grape juice or wine to enjoy through the winter.
Wisteria is another great vine you can use, but be sure to grow Blue Moon. That is the variety I have found to be hardy in this area. I know that Jody Olson in Canby has had this variety for years, and have friends in Harwood and Jamestown, North Dakota who have grown it for years too, so I know it will survive our winters and bloom nicely.
Engelman Ivy is a tough and very hardy plant that will give you lots of growth and lovely fall foliage color. No bright flowers, but if you need a tough plant to grow and cover an area with minimal care, this is a great plant to consider.