The growth habit of many of the best vines for flowering and greening up a wall, fence or any flat surface requires some kind of structure to support them so that they can ascend vertically and horizontally. Vines that twine with tendrils and stems are particularly needing of support for flat surfaces, and are the focus of this post. Though in nature they may creep and climb over other vegetation searching for light, space and to competitively cover more ground; you can strategically set up lateral or grid-like patterned wiring to direct growth and train your vines to cover your fence or wall so that it will be a green jungle.
8 Vine Plants that Require Structural Support to Cover a Wall or Fence:
- 1. Distictis buccinatoria – (Scarlet trumpet vine) Zones: 9 – 11. Although Distictis’ habit includes clinging with tendrils that form disks. Safeguard full coverage to your chosen fence or wall with some training wire support. This Mexican native vines grows fast to 20–30 ft. It has wonderful leaves and long lasting blood red trumpet-shaped flowers with yellow throat. Plant in well-drained soil and provide sturdy support as growth tends to be heavy and dense. Prune in winter, to thin stems and control size. (photo example below)
- 2. Passiflora caerulea – (Blue passion vine) Zones: 6 – 10. There are many Passion vine varieties to choose from; however, this one, (Passiflora caerulea) is considered one of the most winter hardy. This vine clings by tendrils. Flowers are unique and spectacular with outer petals and sepals surrounded by an intricate ring center of blue, white and purple. Oval, orange fruit is edible. Evergreen in frost free areas.
- 3. Polygonum aubertii – (Silver Lace Vine) Zones: 5 – 9. Deciduous. Showy, fast twining grower to 25 to 35 ft. Vine gives two seasons of bloom. Small, creamy white flowers in frothy clusters; light green heart-shaped foliage.
- 4. Trachelospermum jasminoides – (Star Jasmine Vine) Zone: 8 – 11. Leathery green leaves. Twining stems 18-20 ft. long. Fragrant waxy white star shaped flowers. Full sun to part shade.
- 5. Jasminum polyanthemum – (Pink Jasmine Vine) Zones: 8 – 10. Fast growing evergreen vine to 20 feet. Finely divided leaflets with very fragrant flowers of dense clusters white inside, rose colored outside. Bloom time: Spring through early summer. Full sun for best flowering.
- 6. Solanum jasminoides – (Potato Vine) Zones: 9 – 11. Evergreen in mild winter locations. Twining habit with fast growth to 30 feet. White flowers in clusters of 8-12.
- 7. Hardenbergia violacea ‘Happy Wanderer’ (Purple Vine Lilac) Zones: 9 – 11. This evergreen Australian native is a fast grower that climbs by twining stems to 12-16 feet. Wisteria like flowers are purple with a chartreuse spot in center. Bloom time is winter to early spring. Plant in sun or light shade in hot inland areas. Tolerates heavy soil as long as it drains well.
- 8. Pandorea jasminoides ‘Rosea’ – (Pink Bower Vine) Zones: 9 – 11. This fast growing evergreen vine, grows 15 – 25 ft. Twining branches hold glossy bright green compound foliage. Bright pink trumpet-shaped blooms have lighter color rose-pink throats. Full sun to part shade inland.
Clinging Vines Typically Don’t Need Support to Cover a Smooth Surface:
The above photo of Trumpet vine (Distictis), grows with clinging leaf tendrils that can suction-cup and adhere to this concrete wall. Though this makes climbing a birthright of the trumpet vine, creating a simple wire support structure and training-in will ensure a greener wall. Vines like Ivy (Hedera) and Fig (Ficus) that cling to a surface by adventitious roots, don’t, in most cases need support.
Parthenocissus vine (photo above) has stem tendrils with touch-sensitive adhesive pads that allow this vine to stick to almost any surface. Climbers with adhesive pads can attach themselves to the face of a building or a tree trunk.
Select a support structure before you plant your climber(s). Here’s a great example: These metal trellis (grid) support structures look amazing; and, fastened against the house, offers the support needed for these two leather leafed Jasmine vines (Trachelospermum jasminoides).
The mistake most people make when training climbers is they tie the leaders vertically to the fence or support structure. This encourages the vine to climb to the top, with little foliage below. Better idea is to train the stems horizontally (photo below) which will encourage the buds along the length of the stem to shoot. “They form new side branches which in time, can also be trained horizontally to cover the fence from top to bottom.”
To achieve even wall coverage and to sleep better at night: Attach weather resistant training wire and eyehooks.
We generally like to use:
-Aircraft cable, which is galvanized for outdoor use, and strong as can be. The 1/8 inch cable has a working load of 340 pounds. (Sometimes this is hard to get your hands on.)
See this post for step by step easy details. It will make everything a lot easier if you choose to go this route. It’s also addictive, and you’ll want to put-up and train vines everywhere!! Lol.
You can also see our suggested materials at the end of this post.
Photos of Training Vines with Support
Above, the newly planted Passion vine (Passiflora ‘Lavander Lady’) has a modest support structure, using galvanized wire, which is rust resistant. Also, we used turnbuckles and eyehooks, which is a pretty common way to create support. As the Passion vine grows laterally, we will add more hardware and support to continue along the fence line.
I haven’t seen Plumbago – a sprawling, vine-like shrub – trained as a vine very often. This photo was taken in October, on a recent trip to Italy and is the front of a delicious pizza shop named Pinsere. Yum!! The Plumbago is planted in a container, and being thoughtfully pruned and trained with simple green garden wire tie. This plant is native to the Mediterranean region, and really won me over when I saw it! (Simple pleasures!)
Additional vines (and you may have more) that can do well with this type of support, if grown to cover a flat surface, include: Pandorea, Jasminum, Aristilochia, Kennedia, Campsis, Hardenbergia, Lonicera, Thunbergia, Solanum, Bougainvillea. And, the 8 vines listed above.
As is the case with certain vines, you will want to use a heavier support wire and hardware. Though not a twining vine, instead climbing a bit with sharp thorns, ouch, the Bougainvillea (photo above) is being trained to grow vertically and fill in between the 2 wires. A heavier gauge wire support set-up is important for long term growth. Several other vines that need strong support when trained this way: Wisteria, Thunbergia, tropical Bomarea, and Burmese honeysuckle.
How to Install Vine Support Wire and Hardware:
If your objective is to cover a fence or exterior wall with lush flowering vines – you’ll need to create support, and training is key. Unfortunately, it can be very expensive at the local hardware store, and rarely do, they, or even the big box stores have what you need. You can purchase cable wire and related hardware by heading over to Amazon (we’re affiliates, so we do earn a tiny commission 😉 ). As mentioned, we’ve put together a list of what we use (It’s never easy to find in a hardware store).
Cable is 7 by 7 stainless steel and measures 1/8 by 125 feet. The safe work load limit for this item is 340 lbs.
You’ll also need 2″ Eye Hooks (2 per row), a screwdriver and a small crescent wrench.