The Q&A Archives: Climbing Vines to Cover Deck Arbor

Question: We are planning to build an arbor over our deck. The area receives direct sun (faces west) and can get very hot in the summer. I need suggestions for vines to use over the arbor that will grow in our area and come back every year. In particular we would like a quick grower that requires little maintence. Also, insects/birds may also be something to consider. I also need to know what time of the year plants need to be planted. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: I can think of a few that would fit your needs. Fortunately, these vines aren't too picky about how they're pruned. You might want to put a corregated poly roof on your arbor to keep "stuff" from falling on you when you're out enjoying the deck, though, because there will be dead flowers, leaves, fruit, and the creatures attracted by fruit and flowers (however minimal) are subject to gravity. Any of these vines can be planted this spring, and will need attention while they become established -- regular watering, especially, as their roots recover from the shock transplanting. The better care you take with planting, the less work they'll be later on.

Here are some good choices, and pruning tips: American bittersweet (Cleastrus scandens); no special pruning, if you're growing it for fast coverage. Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans); prune in late winter/early spring, cutting previous year's growth back to just two or three buds for good, lush growth. Silver lace vine (Polygonatum aubertii); if you need to prune to keep it in bounds, do so in late winter/early spring while the vine is dormant. Good luck with your project!

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