ISSUE 57  |  Haberdashery

Alternatives to Ivy: Vertical Growers

January 31, 2013 8:00 PM

BY Janet Hall

Recently we offered a professional’s recommendation of the perfect Ivy plant. Little did we know this benign (OK, maybe “invasive” is more apt) plant would stir up a bee’s hive of controversy. Some readers told us in no uncertain terms what they think of ivy: “a monster,” “kudzu,” and “I will never plant it again” were among the comments. Message received. To ameliorate the situation, we’ve rounded up a collection of alternatives:

What did we miss? If you have a favorite climbing plant, tell us about it in the comment section below.

Join the great ivy debate; see our recent post: “Vertical Garden Kit: The Ideal Ivy.”

Above: A stunning ornamental vine, Hyacinth Bean (Lablab purpureus) is a twining perennial that is winter hardy in zones 10 to 11. Unlike many other vines, the blooms of the hyacinth bean plants grow up and away from the foliage. Fast growing, it’s practically a vertical garden kit on its own. It will cover a standard-sized trellis in a single season and is easy to grow from seed (being a member of the bean family); $3.25 for a pack of seeds at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Image via Happy Gardens.

Above: Our friend Tricia Rose recommends the Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris), especially on a north facing wall. “You don’t have to baby it,” she says. Recommended for zones 4 to 8, it doesn’t like the humid conditions of the South; $19.48 for a 4-inch pot through American Meadows. Image via Missouri Botanical Garden.

Above: Native honeysuckles are not considered to be invasive like the Asiatic varieties. Add them to your vertical garden kit. Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is native to the Eastern United States. It is an evergreen twining climber whose flowers are hummingbird and butterfly magnets. Recommended for zones 4 to 9; $6 through Earth First Native Plant Nursery. Image via Stately Kitsch.

Above: Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), another native of the Eastern United States, is hardy in zones 5 to 9. With large trumpet flowers, this vine spreads rapidly and sends up root suckers, putting itself in the middle of the invasive versus non-invasive debate; $29.95 in a large 3-gallon pot through Top Tropicals. Image via Rock Rose.

Above: I confess to loving the voracious growth and strong aroma of Confederate (or Star) Jasmine Vine that hangs over my garage. It is a twining, evergreen, woody perennial that grows as a vine in zones 8 to 10 (California, southwestern and southeastern US). Yes, I have to cut it vigorously. Yes, it is worth every snip; $29.95 for a 1-gallon pot through Brighter Blooms.

Above: Horticulturalist Allan Armitage has an unapologetic love of vines (even those that some despise for their invasive nature). In Armitage’s Vines and Climbers, he profiles selections of climbing plants for a wide variety of sites and conditions; $29.95 at Amazon.

For more, see our collection of Vertical Garden Features.