Designing with Vines

Vines serve as an important vertical element in the home landscape. These 'green walls' are used to soften the look of harsh structural items such as masonry and brick, and they can do wonders to improve the appearance of chain link and other types of fences.

Vines growing on the south or west sides of buildings reduce solar heating in the summer, and insulate walls during the winter months. The creative use of vertical structural supports and vines can help to divide areas of the yard into separate spaces, and to screen unsightly views. Finally, vines add a needed splash of color and interest to the seasonal landscape.

Types of Vines

Plants that vine grow vertically by using one of three methods:

1) Aerial rootlets. Clinging vines use small roots along the stem to attach themselves to surfaces, additional supports are not needed. These vines are best utilized on hard surfaces such as masonry or concrete, as their holdfasts can damage wooden surfaces. Boston ivy, trumpet creeper, and Virginia creeper are examples of clinging vines.

2) Twining vines. These vines climb by winding their stems around vertical supports, thus they will need wires, trellises or arbors to properly grow. Depending upon the type of vine, supports need to be sturdy and durable. Large twining vines such as wisteria or rattan vine need ample room and large supports.

3) Vines with tendrils. Tendrils are thin stems that wrap around vertical elements, and will also need structural supports. Muscadine grape and sweet peas are examples of plants that climb with tendrils.


Container grown woody vines may be planted at any time of the year, but bare-root vines should be planted in spring before new growth begins. New twining or tendril-type plants should be assisted by tying their stems to the support with a soft cloth. Quick growth may be enhanced by applying fertilizer in spring, such as 5-10-5 or similar. Watering may be necessary the first year during dry periods, but most hardy vines will be self-sufficient. Some vines develop sparse foliage near the ground and may need periodic pruning to encourage lower growth.


Vines should be selected by the intended use, location, soil type, solar exposure and the type of support that will be used. There are evergreen and deciduous vines, as well as annuals (that will need to be replanted each year). When selecting vines, be careful not to choose invasive exotic species that will spread into the landscape such as Japanese climbing fern, Japanese honeysuckle, or cat's claw. Vines offer a wealth of flower colors and bloom times, fragrance, showy fruits, and foliage interest.

The following table lists vines recommended for Mississippi landscapes.

Scientific Name Common  Name
Antigonon leptopus
Bignonia capreolata
Campsis radicans
Clematis species
Clematis virginiana
Gelsemium sempervirens
Ipomoea purpurea
Lonicera sempervirens
Macfadyena unguis-cati
Milletia reticulata 
Passiflora incarnata
Rosa banksiae
Smilax lanceolata
Trachelospermum jasminoides 
Vitis species
Rose of Montana
Trumpet Vine
Native Clematis
Yellow Jessamine
  Morning Glory
Coral Honeysuckle
Cat’s Claw Vine
Evergreen Wisteria
 Lady Banksia Rose
Southern Smilax
Confederate Jasmine

Publications may download photo at 200 d.p.i.

These factsheets were written by Robert F. Brzuszek, Assistant Extension Professor, The Department of Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University.

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Publication Number: IS0642


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