A: Perennial vines and trailing plants can be an interesting addition to your landscape. Though we may not have much success with vines like wisteria here (some white flowering varieties do okay), we do have many other choices.
Most vines need some kind of support, whether it is a trellis, fence, or wall. But many vines are equally appealing when allowed to cascade down a slope or trail over a retaining wall. They can lend a different look as a ground cover, and many do quite well in containers.
Several vine varieties have adapted well to Colorado’s temperamental climate. Here are a few:
Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is a rapidly growing deciduous vine that displays very showy orange to red flowers all season, and the bluish-green leaves provide nice contrast. It grows best in full sun and is very drought-hardy once established. Look for hummingbirds visiting the showy flowers. (See photo at the beginning of this article.)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) can be invasive over time (at least some varieties can be), but if you are looking for a way to cover a large bare area, once established, this vine will do precisely that. In some parts of the world, this vines is considered a weed. No mowing is required and this plant is very drought hardy. It has clusters of sweet-scented white flowers.
Silver lace vine (Polygonum aubertii) is a rapid-growing deciduous vine that displays masses of white flowers summer through fall. This vine makes an excellent ground cover. Try inserting a metal tree-support stake in the ground and training this vine to grow on the stake. It will fill in and look like a flowering shrub.
Wine cup or Poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrate) form low mats of trailing stems with magenta flowers and rich, green leaves. It thrives in dry, well-drained soil and full sun. If given too much water and attention, it will not do as well.
Ozark sundrop or Missouri evening primrose (Oenothera missouriensis) has large yellow flowers that last a single day. While it’s a bit of a stretch to call this a vine, its trailing stems give it a low-growing, small area, viney look. It spreads nicely among other rock garden plants. This plant will tolerate some shade and may be deer resistant.
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a vigorous vine with leaves that turn red or orange in the fall. It grows well in sun or partial shade and has low water needs. You may notice this vine growing up telephone poles or up the trunks of nearby trees, especially visible in fall when the leaves turn red.
KINTZLEY’S GHOST® Honeysuckle (Lonicera reticulata) is an improved selection of the species brought to Colorado’s Plant Select® program. Showy yellow flowers lack the fragrance typically associated with honeysuckle, but they cover the vine in June and the distinctive appearance of eucalyptus-like bracts more than makes up for the flowers not being heavily scented. The vine is easy to grow and is undemanding, requiring only average garden loam and moderate irrigation. The unusual and distinctive appearance makes this a “must have” for gardeners wanting something new and different. Check out this link for more info on Plant Select for Colorado:
Contributed by Deb Ross, Certified Colorado Gardener
Photo by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener