Best Plants to Use on a Trellis

If you're someone who likes to keep up with the latest and greatest, you probably already know that vertical gardening is one of the hottest gardening trends around. Even if you're not in the know, you can take comfort in the fact that one of the easiest ways to create vertical gardens is by adorning a trellis with greenery-in this case the perfect vine. All vines are not created equal however; some use tendrils to make their way, others use tiny "suction cups" to attach themselves, while still others twine their way around. All three types of vines can be used on a trellis, but here's a look at some of the best plants to use on a trellis to create your very own vertical garden.

  1. Clematis
    With beautiful, colorful and often tropical-looking flowers, clematis (Clematis spp.) is the hands-down favorite when it comes to choosing a flowering vine to grow on a trellis. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, many of them hardy as far north as US Zone 4 (-30 to -20° F). Other varieties thrive in warmer climates as far south as zones 9 or 10. Clematis prefers full sun and grows best in well-drained soil. Most varieties of clematis, with the exception of Sweet Autumn clematis, are more showy than they are fragrant.

  2. Moonflower
    Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is a twining annual vine that is in the same family as the morning glory, but with much larger flowers. Unlike morning glories they are not as invasive. Moonflowers, which are creamy white in color, are fast-growing vines, especially when grown under ideal conditions, and are best grown on a sturdy trellis structure in full or partial sun. As the name implies, moonflowers bloom in the evening. If you enjoy spending time in you garden at night, then the fragrant moonflower might be the perfect plant for your trellis.

  3. Virginia Creeper
    If you're looking for a foliage vine for your trellis, then Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is an excellent choice. This deciduous climbing vine has inconspicuous greenish-white flowers that bloom from June to August. It is distinguished by its compound-palmate leaves with 5 leaflets; however, it is the spectacular autumn color of the leaves, which turn from dark green to orange and dark red, that steals the show. Virginia creeper produces purplish-black berries that are a source of food for birds.

  4. Kiwi Vine
    Although you might consider kiwi to be a tropical fruit, the kiwi vine (Actinidia arguta) is hardy to US Zone 4. While in colder climates it typically dies back, in milder winters edible kiwi fruits are produced. Kiwi vines are excellent for screening and the red leaf stems make for an attractive contrast with the green of the leaves. The vigorously growing, hardy kiwi prefers partial shade and well-drained soils. Use a solid trellis structure to support it in warmer climates where it doesn't die back each year.

  5. Bougainvillea
    Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spectabilis) is the classic flowering vine of the tropics and perfect for a trellis. The delicate yet profuse brightly colored flowers range from yellow to orange to pink and red in color, creating large splashes of color in the garden. Native to South Africa, the woody vine is pest-free and prefers full or partial sun and well-drained soil. Pruning should take place after the blooms have died down.

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