Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
May, 2007
Regional Report

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Coral honeysuckle is a well-behaved woody vine with trumpet-shaped blooms that attract hummingbirds.

Woody Flowering Vines Create Beautiful Shade

Vines offer a beautiful way to beat the heat of a southern summer. They provide a natural screen to shade a west-facing wall. They provide a patio or deck with an attractive living wall or ceiling. Even apartment dwellers can use vines. A container set up against a porch pillar or beside a stair or balcony railing make a great home for one of the less vigorous vines.

We have many great vines to choose from for our southern landscapes. Annual vines provide fast cover but must be replanted each year, while perennial vines die back to the ground each winter and return in spring. Woody vines create permanent above-ground growth that forms a dependable cover over an arbor or across a west-facing wall. Here are a few of my favorite woody flowering vines for southern landscapes:

Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) - A running vine that must be pruned to keep it in a confined area. Coral blooms form clusters of tubular flowers. A yellow form is also available. Full sun to part shade.

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) - The native form sports rusty brownish red to yellow blooms. A dazzling variety, 'Tangerine Beauty', is a showstopper with its tangerine to coral blooms. It blooms profusely in spring and sparsely later in the season. Full sun to part shade.

Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) - The "wild" version is often cursed as a rampant weedy vine. Newer cultivars like 'Madame Galen' and 'Georgia' offer larger blooms and have a place as a strong vine for a large arbor. Full sun to part shade.

Wisteria (Wisteria sp.) - Several species and varieties are available. Long cascades of blue to purple flowers in spring. Looks great trained along the top of a fence (cut it back heavily each winter), or pruned into a "mini tree" form. Don't let it take off up a tree or power line as it doesn't know when to stop. Full sun to part shade.

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) - Evergreen vine that puts on spring show of trumpet-shaped yellow blooms. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Full sun to part shade.

Lady Banks Rose (Rosa banksiae) - Long arching, thornless canes bear yellow blooms in spring. Needs lots of room to do its thing. A lightly fragrant, white-blooming form is also available. Full sun.

Sweet Autumn Clematis (C. ternifolia a.k.a. C. paniculata) - Most types of clematis are best left on the pages of seed catalogues if you garden in the lower south. Sweet autumn clematis is an exception, adapting well to our climate as it sprawls in an unmannerly fashion over whatever support you provide. In late summer to early fall, it explodes in a billowy white mass of quarter-sized white blooms with a vanilla fragrance. For best results add a couple of inches of compost to the soil and maintain moderate moisture. The roots do best if shaded by a low-growing ground cover or a blanket of mulch. Sun to part shade.

Star or Confederate Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) - Better have plenty of room for it to grow as this vine can easily grow to 20 or more feet in a favorable spot. Not a true jasmine, it still has that wonderful jasmine-like fragrance when the 1-inch, white blooms appear in late spring. Good for shading a west-facing brick wall as it has the "holdfasts" that enable a vine to climb masonry structures. Just be ready to keep trimmed to prevent it from climbing onto wood exteriors. Sun to part shade.

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