Non Damaging Vines - Knowledgebase Question

Chicago, IL
Question by marsart
January 20, 1998
My 80-year-old brick, 3-story, courtyard-style condo building needs some color on the south-facing wall, and we thought that a flowering vine might be a good idea, but our property manager warned us that many times vines can be damaging to a building's brick, mortar, roof, etc.. Can you recommend a perennial vine that is easy care and non-damaging? We face south but due to the courtyard style of the building, the west half of the south-facing wall gets mainly weak morning sun while the east half gets stronger P.M. sun. We'd prefer not to use a trellis, as we already have 3 trellises in the courtyard. Thanks!


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Answer from NGA
January 20, 1998

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Climbing Hydrangea have flowers similar to lace-cap hydrangeas and are excellent on masonry/brick walls. They shouldn't cause any damage. They are not recommended for wooden buildings or shingles. They cling by aerial rootlets, so you wouldn'tneed a support. Your manager may be concerned about the possibility of damage to the roofing shingles. Climbing hydrangea can reach a height of 60-80', so they should be trimmed up top to keep them from getting out of hand. They are somewhat slow to get going, but once you get there....WOW! Another great choice for this area is Polygonum aubertii (Silver Lace Vine). It is not at all slow to get going (you could have a sizeable vine in only 2 years), and shouldn't be a damage consideration at all. This vine has a twining habit so it would need something to climb on, it would be quickly covered up however. This is a thick, dense vine with a profusion of flowers.

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