The Q&A Archives: Privacy

Question: I would like to grow some flowering climbing vines or perennials that can be trained to climb my chainlink fence for privacy. What suggestions do you have that are not poisonous, are hardy for zones 3-5 and do not need to be cut off every fall and ripped out of a fence? Thank you

Answer: Here are a few suggestions for you:
Climbing Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp., zone 2+) - These are popular flowering vines which climb by twining their flexible stems around support structures. Dropmore Scarlet honeysuckle (L. x brownii ?Dropmore Scarlet?, zone 2) is the hardiest with its showy orange-red flowers all season long. Goldflame honeysuckle (L. x heckrottii, zone 5) and its counterpart trumpet honeysuckle (L. sempervirens, zone 5) are similar with mixed flower colors of yellow, pink and red and varying degrees of fragrance. New selections of the native woodbine honeysuckle (L. periclymenum, zone 4) such as ?Honey Baby? and ?Harlequin? offer deliciously fragrant flowers or variegated foliage.

Clematis (Clematis cv., zone 3+) - By far the hardiest of the showy flowering climbers, there are so many dazzling selections to choose from! They climb by twining their very supple stems and also by creatively bending their leaf stalks around suitable supports. Most of the climbing varieties are not overly vigorous, which allows them to be used in almost any garden setting. Keep the root zones cool and shaded while the tops bask in abundant sunlight for best performance. Note that different varieties of clematis will bloom on either new or old wood, and you need to know which is which when it comes to pruning in order not to trim off next year?s flowers!

Climbing Roses (Rosa cv., zone 3+) - These roses are more like rambling shrubs than actual vines, so their long arching canes need to be trained to grow up structures, although some varieties lend themselves better to this application. ?William Baffin? is one of the hardiest varieties. Be cautious about many of the more attractive climbers you?ll find on the store shelves which, as they are true tea roses, are anything but hardy in the North.

Non-flowering vines include: Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, zone 2), Englemann ivy (P. quinquefolia var. englemannii, zone 3) and Boston ivy (P. tricuspidata, zone 4) - These members of this genus are among the most popular and versatile vines in our northern landscapes, renowned for their summer density, vigor and spectacular fall color. The suction pads at the ends of their tendrils allow them to climb up nearly any structure all, although they can be too aggressive for some applications.

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