Wendy's WanderingsWendy Wilber

August 5, 2019

Vexing Vines

Why did I ever plant these vines in my landscape?

Have you ever asked yourself this question? It rang in my ears again this past week when I was cutting and pulling sky vine (Thunbergia grandiflora) off my citrus trees.

"It looks pretty," they said. "It'll jazz up the back fence with purple flowers," they promised. "It's not too bad to control."

File these under: fibs that plant friends have told me about vines.

Another vine in this file folder is Mexican flame vine (Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides), currently running all over the mulch bed where it is supposed to be confined to the 5 foot wire obelisk that it outgrew in three weeks (ha!). Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is on my watch list too. I love the intoxicating fragrance from the small white flowers in late spring and its evergreen nature, but it never stops growing. If I don't prune it several times a year it will climb to the top of my 50 foot tree canopy and make seeds!

"Prune the vines" is always on my gardening to-do list, and by that I usually mean the orange flowered trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans). Unlike the aforementioned, this vine is a Florida native. But it is still trying to move into my house by way of the bedroom window.

Now, I don't have it out for all the vines that I have planted. I enjoy hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) and moonflowers (Ipomea alba) because they are annuals. I have to save the seeds for these and I miss them when they are gone. Also the native coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is well-behaved—and the hummingbird's favorite. The native Passiflora vine is welcome in my butterfly garden because it spends most of its time recovering from gulf fritillary caterpillar feeding. When I make some space I would consider trying the native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), and the yellow flowering native Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens).

But I will remember our mantra "Right Plant Right Place" and be realistic about my maintenance levels the next time my fibbing gardening friends give me a start of "beautiful vine".

-- Wendy Wilber

A look up at all the white flowers covering a huge tree

The view from the ground. That's all star jasmine covering a 50 foot tree!

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