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Similar to ground covers (and some vines are indeed used for such purposes), vines are primarily species of plants that require support structures such as walls, trellises, arbors, pergolas, fencing, or even trees.  Each vine has its own way in the world, meaning they grow differently requiring their training to accommodate methods of vining.  Here are a few examples:

  • Canes: Examples - Bougainvillea and many climbing roses. Sturdy canes that need to be tied to a support structure.  If left alone, the canes will first shoot upwards but will eventually arch downward again due to their weight.  This might be a desirable effect, creating in essence a bramble.

  • Suction Cups and Aerial Roots: Examples - Boston ivy and trumpet creeper. Both have modified structures that cling to walls, enabling them to climb high up buildings and garden walls.  Before designers specify, they should determine the type of wall structure and material to use.  At some point in the future, the vines might need to come down, either because of a change in client interest, a building repair, or a vine refresh.  In such cases, these vines can leave behind limbs or little suction cups, or worse, take the wall surface with it when removed.  Plan ahead, specify responsibly.

  • Tendrils: Examples - Grapes and trumpet vines.  Modified plant parts that will wrap around a support, including limbs of its own making.  Tendrils are great for cable structures where wrapping is easy.  For every wrapped tendril a vine can reach further upwards and across supportive structures.  Without the structure, these vines cannot support their limbs well and behave more like a ground cover.

  • Wraps:  Examples - Wisteria and jasmine.  Similar to tendrils, their limbs wind around supports (or itself) to reach further up.  These vines prefer structures that allow for wrapping to occur.  For example, wisterias are larger vines sending long shoots outward looking for something to wrap around.  In this case, a sturdy arbor post is sufficient.  By contrast, jasmines typically have smaller limbs with shorter spirals, so cables or wire fencing are sufficient.

By taking their growth habits into consideration, designers can make better decisions about the types of appropriate supportive structures.  Similarly, if the structure is already determined, choose vines that work with rather than against the structure's form.

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