[Skip to Content]
University of Illinois Extension
Vines: Climbers & Twiners


Basic maintenance such as pruning and fertilization varies with the type of vine and its growth rate. Some vines will need heavy annual pruning to keep them from appearing rampant and overgrown while others will need occasional pruning to reduce size and direct growth. Newly planted vines may need only minimal pruning in order to balance growth. Also, vines grown for their flowers tend to flower more abundantly on shoots that are trained horizontal rather than vertical.

The guidelines for pruning vines are much like that for pruning deciduous shrubs.  If the vine is grown for its foliage, they can be pruned most anytime during the growing season with early spring being the best time to do any type of heavy pruning.  With flowering vines, one needs to take note as to when they bloom.  If the vine flowers in the summer or fall, it is doing so with flower buds produced on current season or new growth.  These vines can be pruned in late winter or very early spring.  This gives the vine plenty of time to produce flowering shoots.  Honeysuckle, hardy kiwi and trumpet vine are examples.  

If the vine blooms early in the season (before about June 15), it is doing so on the previous season's growth and should be pruned after the flowers fade.  Doing any pruning in early spring before flowering or late in the season often results in the removal of potential flower shoots and reduction of flowers.  Wisteria and Dutchman’s pipe are examples.   If the vine produces ornamental fruit, post flower pruning may have to be delayed until spring because the fruit crop will be lost.  

Fertilizer is also based upon growth rate.  If the vine is producing abundant annual growth very little fertilizer may be needed to maintain the plant.  If plants do require fertilizer, an annual spring application of a general purpose fertilizer at a rate of about one cup worked into the soil in the root zone of the plant is suggested.