When covering up walls, structures or just creating areas of shade, nothing beats vines. I use vines to insulate and soften up hard structures that cannot be hidden with shrubs. Out here in the Southwest, we are blessed with a wide assortment of different types of vines. Some require trellising; some do not because they attach themselves to walls without support.
One type of vine that I find very useful is the Thompson Seedless grape. It grows at an astounding rate of speed during the springtime and with the right care, will cover up structures made of wire, rebar or wood. This creates a small oasis during our hot weather. It sheds its leaves during the winter, allowing your patio or home to receive the sun’s warm rays. Another advantage to this plant is that it will produce grapes during the summer, that are so tasty and juicy when ripe that they just can’t be beat.
Another type of vine, which I would be remiss if I did not mention, is the bougainvillea. This plant thrives on abuse. Once established, I have seen these plant thrive on their own without water or fertilizer. If you are considering planting one, be careful not to beak the root ball. Breaking the root ball at the planting stage is a sure bet that the bougainvillea will die.
When it comes to vines, Lady Banks rose has to be one of the most colorful, because it has beautiful white or yellow blooms in the spring. This particular type of rose thrives in our Shouthwest soils and has a long history of thriving in our deserts. It’s easy to care for and needs some sort of support to allow the long canes to drape. Its lack of thorns allows for its use around patio areas.
When I think about attracting birds, nothing beats pyrachantha. They love the berries and will eat them with such a vengeance that the pyracantha has been burned along roadways to avoid messy bird problems near traffic. This plant needs support and is prone to fire blight.
For low sun areas, the number of choices increases and get more interesting. The following are vines I have grown in the past.
Star Jasmine (very fragrant), Creeping Fig (a favorite of mine), Carolina Jessamine,
Wisteria (pretty purple blooms), Passion Fruit (lacy foliage with purple and white flowers)
For that sunny area, other than trying grapes, bougainvillea, pyracantha and Lady Bank’s roses, you can also use cat’s claw. It’s named from it’s almost hand like structure and this vine is practically capable of climbing Mount Everest in record speed. In fact, this plant in so invasive I have seen it growing inside homes! Obviously it is best to keep this vine in the far reaches of the landscape where it will not take over anything that it shouldn’t.