Garden Q&A: Minimal flowers, lots of foliage
Q: We have an arbor in front of our house that we would like to cover with a vine. So many of the vines I have seen look lovely when the plants are in flower, but when they are not blooming, they don't look very nice. Instead of a clematis or morning glory or something like that, we want a vine that produces beautiful foliage but no flowers. Any suggestions?
A: To the best of my knowledge, there are no existing conifers or ferns that vine — so that means you'll have to put up with some sort of flowers. However, there are several beautiful vines that produce very minimal flowers and are attractive primarily for their interesting foliage. Here are a few ideas.
• English ivy — Yes, ivy does produce flowers, though the plants require substantial maturity and upright growth to develop them. Hedera helix is fully hardy here and is a rapid grower. Its thick leaves are evergreen, and variegated forms may present you with some added interest. Because the plant can grow rather aggressively, you'll have to prune it regularly to keep it confined to the arbor. Ivy produces aerial roots that develop along the length of the stem. These roots cling to wooden or even plastic arbors, but they have a difficult time climbing metal. Once the plant does come into flower (often a half dozen or more years after planting), you'll find it serves as a much-needed nectar source for bees and other pollinators.
• Virginia creeper — A beautiful native vine, Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a fast grower with terrific hardiness and disease resistance. It, too, climbs using aerial roots. Each leaf consists of a grouping of five leaflets, spread in a hand-like fashion. They are a lush green throughout the summer and turn a beautiful, brilliant red in the fall. This vine grows best in full sun and will probably need to be pruned once a year. The small, greenish flowers it produces are followed by clusters of small, dark blue berries. The berries combine beautifully with the red foliage in autumn.
• Hardy Arctic Kiwi — I love these vines for their variegated, heart-shaped foliage. Actinidia kolomikta Arctic Beauty is grown primarily as a foliage plant and once mature, it produces leaves with pink, white and green variegation. If you grow this vine for fruit production (the fruits are delicious!), you'll need to plant one male to every five female vines, but if you just want it for its foliage, then a single vine will do. Male varieties tend to have the showiest coloration. The fruits are produced only on female vines and are green and fuzzless. Their interior looks and tastes just like the tropical kiwis found at the grocery store.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to email@example.com or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Malkin picture muddy
- Pirates notebook: Martin feels ‘pretty good,’ will start vs. Giants
- Steelers film session: Harrison on the field often
- NFL notebook: Raiders name Sparano interim coach
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin bringing officials to practice
- I-79 line painting begins Thursday
- Shareholders cheer eBay’s decision to spin off PayPal
- Virginia kicker says parents preached commitment
- Animal Friends receives $1.5 million state grant
- Pittsburgh rallies for second year of Pirates magic
- Public station WQED cutting staff in face of financial woes