The Q&A Archives: Do vines hurt gutters and mortor?

Question: I would love to grow flowering vines like trumpet or wisteria but have been told they will ruin the morter on a brink home and get up into getter systems and under shingles. Is this so? Can they be trained to climb a tree and would it be harmful to the tree?

Answer: Some climbing vines can cause permanent damage to brick, stucco and concrete blocks, but others won't. Vines such as ivy and creeping fig attach themselves to anything vertical with sticky little structures called peds or discs. These peds cling so tightly that you cannot remove them even after removing the vine. So I'd stay away from these types of vines. Fortunately, the two vines you mention, wisteria and trumpet creeper, attach themselves with modified leaves called tendrils. The only caution with these vigorous climbers is if they are not pruned back they can grow under shingles or shutters and cause problems. As long as you keep them pruned, they shouldn't cause any problems with a brick home.

Vines that climb by means of twining stems or tendrils will need to be supported by wires, trellises, or arbors. Support structures for vines should be made from durable materials such as metal or wood. When using metal wire or tubing, copper or aluminum are preferred over other metals to avoid rusting. For wood structures, naturally rot-resistant woods such as redwood, cedar, or cypress are the most durable. Treated lumber and synthetic lumber made from recycled plastic provide additional durable options.

I would avoid allowing them to climb up a tree. The vines are strong enough that they can girdle a tree, causing its death. They can also become so thick that they will hold excess moisture against a tree trunk and cause rot. The final caution is that a huge mass of vines in the branches of a tree can act like a sail in the wind, toppling a tree in a wind storm. I'd stick with growing vines on a trellis!

Best wishes with your garden!

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