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6 Top Choices for Vines and Climbing Plants

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One of the hardest elements for a new garden designer is incorporating climbing vines. After copying English gardens and their use of interplanting , clematis with roses (and just about everything else), we are stumped. For the adventurous, there are some truly stunning vines that can be trained over doorways, up trees or even left to dangle from hanging pots. Here are some favorites to consider for your garden.

1. Actinidia kolomikta (Kiwi Vine)

Kiwi Vine (Actinidia kolomikta)
Photo: © Marie Iannotti (2008) licensed to About.com, Inc.
Grown for its distinctive, heart-shaped foliage. New growth is purple and matures to various degrees of variegation highlighted with splashes of pink. The flowers are tiny and inconspicuous, although they do have a slight scent. Female plants produce grape-like berries in the fall, but male plants reportedly have better variegation. 12 - 30' (USDA Hardiness Zones 4 - 8)

2. Akebia quinata (Five Leaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine)

Five Leaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine (Akebia quinata)
Photo: © Marie Iannotti (2008) licensed to About.com, Inc.
This April bloomer produces spicy scented, brownish-purple blossoms that hang like pendents. The foliage remains nice looking, with oblong leaves, usually grouped in leaflets of 5. It’s a very fast grower that clings by twining. Also comes in white (alba). 30 - 40' (USDA Hardiness Zones 5 - 8)

3. Campsis radicans (Trumpet Vine)

Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)
Photo: © Marie Iannotti (2008) licensed to About.com, Inc.
A native American plant much loved by the hummingbirds and butterflies. Widely adaptable to heat and cold and an especially good choice as a perennial vine for Northern gardeners. Since they can get quite woody, their weight requires a strong support. Mature specimens make for nice winter interest, although they do require some maintenance pruning to keep them flowering at their best. Flowering can take a few years to start. Orange, Red and Yellow Flowers. Can grow to 40' (USDA Hardiness Zones 5 - 9)

4. Clematis species and hybrids

Clematis 'Polish Spirit'
Photo: © Marie Iannotti.
Clematis are a classic pairing with roses, but there is a lot of variety in the genus, including some that remain short and bushy. It's the climbers that have captured our attention, whether the large flowered hybrids, like the popular 'Jackmanii' and 'Nelly Moser', the dainty bells of 'Betty Corning' or the engulfing 'Sweet Autumn' clematis. They don't climb so much as bob and weave their way through other plants. (USDA Zones 5 - 10, depending on variety.)

5. Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)

Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)
Photo: © Marie Iannotti (2008) licensed to About.com, Inc.
These are extremely slow to get started, but there is nothing to beat the sight of a mature specimen in bloom. Climbing Hydrangea is a deciduous vine that clings with aerial roots. It needs solid support, like a wall, fence or even a large tree. They produce the lacy hydrangea flower heads in June. The dried flower head and peeling bark give it winter interest. Worth the investment in time. White flowers. 10 - 80' (USDA Hardiness Zones 4 - 7, to 9 with afternoon shade)

6. Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower, Maypop)

Passionflower, Maypop (Passiflora incarnata)
Photo: Courtesy of Shelby Snider. Used with Permission.
There are over 400 varieties of passionflower, most of which are tender tropical evergreens. Passiflora incarnata is a deciduous species that can actually survive a bit of freezing temperature. In fact, it is native to the southeast U.S. It's semi-woody, with large serrated leaves. It clings to supports with tendrils. Maypop is prized for its complex and exotic looking flowers. Purple and white flowers15 - 20' (USDA Hardiness Zones 7+, Can be overwintered indoors)

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