The Q&A Archives: Alaska vines

Question: I live in Kenai, AK. What are the best plants for a trellise on the east side of the house?

Answer: There are several plants from which to choose:

Actinidia kolomikta is a hardy kiwi, and if you plant a male and female, it produces sweet green seedless fruit in early to midsummer.

Celastrus orbiculatus 'Diane and Hercules' (American Bittersweet) is a hardy, vigorous, twining climber. Yellow, orange and red berries are famous as dried flowers split open in fall to reveal the highly colored fruit inside. (Yellow male, red female.)

Clematis 'Blue Bird' is a vigorous, hardy vine with dainty lavender bell-shaped blooms in spring. This one will grow to 12 feet. Don't be shy in pruning this one heavily. Prune heavily in late winter or early spring, removing dead or weak stems and shaping.

Clematis 'Ernest Markham' has large magenta red flowers with gold anthers. This variety will grow 12-16 feet, with a 4- to 6-inch flower. Lightly prune in late winter or early spring, removing dead or weak stems and shaping.

Clematis terniflora (Sweet Autumn Clematis) sports extremely fragrant and floriferous creamy white flowers that bloom later in the season but for a much longer period than many Clematis, usually two months. Another plus is that it will bloom in part shade. This Clematis does require some pruning or you will get a long bare stem before foliage and blooms. However, if you prune it hard, you will lose that year's flowers. We recommend pruning about one-third of the plant each year.

Lonicera x brownii 'Dropmore Scarlet' (Honeysuckle) This honeysuckle features scarlet trumpet-shaped flowers. This one will flower all summer!

Hope these suggestions are helpful!

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