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University of Illinois Extension
Vines: Climbers & Twiners


When it comes to vines, there are any number of choicesWhen it comes to vines, there are any number of choices. There are both perennial and annual vines. Perennial vines are chosen based upon their ability to persist and come back year after year depending on their hardiness to a particular hardiness zone. When selecting these vines, make sure you know what the hardiness zone is for your area and then cross reference it to the hardiness zone number of the vine. The hardiness zone number for the vine should be at least equal to or smaller than the hardiness zone number for the area you are gardening.

Perennial vines offer the ability to add a permanent landscape feature and with proper care, improve in landscape quality over the years. Many of these are woody vines meaning the stems persist year after year and may offer some winter interest of color and/or texture. Others might be herbaceous which means the tops will die back to the ground each year but the roots will overwinter and persist and resume growing next season.

Annual vines are those that are easily grown from seed each year and then transplanted to the garden. They often offer quick cover and in almost all cases the additional feature of attractive and abundant flowering. These will be killed when cold weather or frost arrives.

There are also many tropical vines that are useful in temperate garden settings and can often be overwintered indoors for use the next season.

Many vines are multidimensional in regards to what they have to offer and bring to the landscape. When selecting, look for features such as attractive and colorful foliage; showy flowers; interesting or colorful bark or stems; curious plant parts including fruit or seed pods; and fall foliage color.

Vines should be selected based upon the type of support structure.Vines should also be selected based upon the scale of the plant, size of the garden and type of support structure. Vines with large, dense, coarse foliage may be more appropriate for large space gardens on a substantial structure and not for an intimate, small space urban garden. While on the other hand a fine–textured vine could be used to add pattern and interest to a bare stone or brick wall.

Vines can also be selected that can attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.