Vine Blatherings

Presuming the Dutchman’s pipe remains dead, I really need to find something for the garage trellis.  (I suppose the grape woodbine could – and would – spread over the whole thing, but I’d like a little more variety.)  Unfortunately, there’s just not a huge number of native vines for semi-shade and clay in zone 5 (or that many native vines at all).  Here’s what I’m contemplating now – any other native plant geeks should feel free to pipe up in the comments with their experiences.

  • Lonicera prolifera – Yes, it’s the Morton Arboretum shrub of the month, but yellow/grape honeysuckle is really a vine.  It looks like it’s cold-hardy and at least somewhat shade tolerant.  Berries are also a plus, since I like to feed the critters.
  • Bignonia capreolataCrossvine shows up in my go-to native gardening book, but it may not be hardy this far north.  Given the past two winters, I’m not inclined towards anything that’s only marginal in zone 5.  But some big showy flowers would be nice.
  • Wisteria macrostachyaKentucky wisteria is another nice big flower, but it may not be happy in the semi-shade.  But I like any plant that gets called out for its hardiness!
  • Use what I already have – My trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is not particularly happy in the deep shade between our garage and the next door neighbor’s garage.  It’s too big to transplant, but maybe I could root a cutting.  (Or I could get a new one – I believe the one I have planted is a cultivar, not the species.)  And then there’s the grape woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea) which is happy everywhere in the yard, but it’s not showy except in the fall.

Do any readers have a favorite among these vines?  How about a least favorite?


4 responses to this post.

  1. What about autumn clematis, or virgin’s bower? I think it does OK in shade; maybe fewer blooms is all. My trumpet vine is also slow in shade; I think you can take cuttings because that’s how I got mine at a plant swap. And, what about Virginia creeper? it’s native and I know it does well in shade, though it’s not so showy. And finally, I’m sorry about your Dutchman’s pipe. I saw it along a fence on a recent garden visit and it’s stunning!


  2. Posted by lakechicagoshores on August 28, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Oooh, I’ll have to research autumn clematis. I tried to grow it a couple of years ago but it didn’t do well; now I know that nothing will grow under the side yard magnolia and should give it a second chance.

    Grape woodbine is a close cousin of Virginia creeper – it just has tendrils rather than sticky pads. Since the grape woodbine would take over the trellis if I let it (it also surrounds the pond and is growing over two trellises towards the back of the yard), I don’t think I need to bring its cousin into the mix.


  3. I’m afraid of trumpet vine after seeing how aggressive it was in a client’s garden. They can take several years to get established, but after that . . . look out! Hers were about 30 years old and were coming up all over her garden, between cracks in the driveway, along the foundation of her house, between pavers in her patio and courtyard, and in her neighbor’s yards at least three houses down on either side. They’re beautiful and hummingbirds love them, but those runners are thick, deep, persistent, and downright scary. She claimed it was the native Campsis radicans, but it’s certainly possible she was mistaken or her plants were mislabeled. After seeing how invasive hers was I did some research, and am not sure there’s a trumpet vine native in northern IL. My understanding is that by definition invasives are non-native, but whether it’s called invasive or aggressive, it’s still a scary plant to me.

    I could be completely misguided about this plant, but after seeing the client’s 30-year old trumpet vines aggressively/invasively taking over the neighborhood, and after researching Campsis radicans, it seems safer to avoid it.


    • Posted by lakechicagoshores on September 2, 2009 at 9:10 am

      Thanks for the insight, Linda. I will leave my existing Campsis alone rather than try to propagate it (the shade is doing a good job keeping it in check).


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