The Q&A Archives: English Ivy, friend or foe?

Question: I found this beautiful trellis design online that I could attach to my home with wire. I was really excited about it until a neighbor said that the ivy I planned to plant there could grow up into my vinyl siding and damage it. I really dont want that! Is this true and, if so, is there something else you recommend that wouldn't damage my home but would look attactive on a trellis?

Answer: Ivy does get a bad rap. If well maintained, it will grow on your trellis without invading the siding of your home. But if not pinched and pruned when it tries to grow out of control, you can have problems with it. Some other plants you might consider include Actinidia arguta 'Isaai' - Self-fertile hardy Kiwi - Grows to about 60 feet by twining. Pruning can keep it much smaller. Oval medium green leaves, flowers white followed by small green edible fruit.

Actinidia kolomikta - Kolomikta vine - Grows to 10-12 feet, twining. Medium green leaves with white/pink blushed tips. Summerbome flowers are white and fragrant.

Ampelopsis brevipedunculata 'Elegens' - Variegated Porcelain Vine - Grows to 15 feet by tendrils. Leaves are variegated white and green. Small flowers in early summer followed by fruit that is lilac to light blue in color and very porcelain looking.

Aristolochia macrophylla - Dutchman's Pipe - Grows to 30 feet by twining. Very large heart shaped leaves. Has very interesting pipe shaped flowers in late spring.

Campsis radicans and cultivars - Trumpetvine - Grows to 30 feet by aerial rootlets and also weaves. Attractive compound leaves. Tube shaped flowers range in color from yellows to orange to red and are attractive to hummingbirds. Flowers in summer.

As with any climbing vine, you will still need to check these periodically and pinch off any stems that threaten to attach themselves to the side of your house.

If these vines sound like they may be too vigorous to contain, you might consider simply planting annual vines to climb up your trellis. They die down with the first frost and you can pull them out and replace them each spring. Some to consider:

Humulus lupulus - Hops - Grows to 12-18 feet by twining. Rapid grower. Pale yellow flowers followed by ornamental pods. Sun to part shade. Needs to be cut back hard in the spring or fall.

Hyacinth Bean - Annual vine - Grows to 10-12 feet. Fast growing with distinctive purple stems and large purple veined leaves. Spikes of deep violet blooms followed by large glossy purple seed pods that are four inches long.

Thunbergia - Black-eyed Susan Vine - Annual. Grows to 6-8 feet. Good for baskets or trellis. Large bright yellow, orange or white flowers with dark centers.

Morning Glory - Annual vine growing to 10-12 feet. Adaptable vine for covering trellis and other structures. Trumpet shaped flowers come in a variety of colors.

Hope this information helps you choose just the right plant for your trellis.

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