The Ultimate Guide to Gardening with Vines

The Ultimate Guide to Gardening with Vines

Table of Contents

Newbie gardeners might get confused by looking at vining plants and feel that they are almost same. But due to the incredible biodiversity in our plant kingdom, vines can be classified into four types depending on the way they climb surfaces.

Classification of vines on their climbing behavior:

  • Twining Vines - Depending on the plant’s genetics, twining vines circle around the vertical support. They are the simplest to take care off. All they need is ample of support so that they do not stress out the structures they climb onto.
  • Tendril Vines - This is the second major category of vines that sends out thin tendrils which whip back and forth until they find something to cling to. The hair on the tendrils signals it about the support and helps it get attached and grow upwards. Grapes are the most popular tendril vine type.
  • Aerial Rootlets - The best example for Aerial Rootlets Vines is English Ivy. It climbs by producing aerial roots that are small, hairy and adhesive rootlets that grow at the bottom of the vine. These rootlets give vine all the support it needs to grow and climb upwards.
  • Sucker Disks -  The sucker disks are a hybrid of both tendril vines and aerial rootlets. These grow with tendrils that have disk-shaped suckers which attach to the support and give vines all the strength it needs to grow.
Read about how to grow climbers and creepers in your garden.
vine plants with tendrils
Remember that vines grow pretty fast and rely heavily on the support structure they thrive on.

Vining Plants for your Garden

Countless Vining Plants can be grown in your garden, but the best five are:

1. Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus):

One need not grow beans only for its fruit; it can be cultivated for its stunning flowers and pods. Scarlet Runner Bean is one such variety. Also known as fire bean, red giant, mammoth and scarlet emperor, this vigorous climber is a twining perennial vine.With its thick, stocky roots the vine can grow up to 12 ft.
Native to South America, Scarlet Runner Bean is primarily cultivated, for it showy bright scarlet red flowers, edible pods, and seeds. This annual bean flowers from July-October. The large bean pods reach up to 1 inch in diameter and bear beautiful pink beans when young. The pink beans turn violet to black speckled blooms as they age. The beans are as attractive as the vines and flowers.
Phaseolus coccineus

2. Black pepper:

Freshly ground black pepper makes any cuisine flavorful and adds beauty to the garden too. This famous spice grows as a flowering vine. Native to South India, it is cultivated for its fruit. The perennial woody vine grows 4 m in height and clings onto trees, poles, or trellises. Know about top 10 flowering climbers for an Indian garden.
The spreading vine roots readily where the trailing stems touch the ground. The 5-10 cms long and 3-6 cms broad leaves grow alternate. Small flowers are produced on pendulous spikes at the leaf nodes; the spikes grow 7-15 cm as the fruit matures.
The small fruit is also known as the peppercorn when dried. Peppercorn gets its spiciness from the chemical piperine. The dried version is used as a common spice in various dishes. Did you know that Black Pepper is prized since ages for its flavor and medicinal purposes?
pepper plant

3. Velvet Leaf:

This small climber grows with membranous to nearly leathery, ovate leaves. The leaf axis bears flowers. Male flowers feature four roundish sepals, which are more significant than the petals, while the female flowers feature one sepal and one petal. The vine flowers in August, and the fruit is round, red.
Native to South America, Velvet Leaf is cherished for its medicinal purposes and is known as Midwife's herb. It is primarily used to treat menstrual problems, hormonal imbalance, ease childbirth, postpartum pain, prevent miscarriage, control hormonal acne, and premenstrual syndrome.
It is highly effective in treating cardiovascular problems, kidney stones and infections, asthma, arthritis, muscle cramps and stomach pains.
climbing plants - green velvet leaf

4. Broom Creeper:

Also known as Patalgaruni, and Jal jamani - Broom Creeper has been used since ages for treating diseases across India, Africa, and China. Broom Creeper is a climbing and densely velvety undershrub. It features heart-shaped, oolong leaves.
The foliage is densely velvety and hairless when young. Blooms occur from December - March. The annual vine bears dark-purple fruits that are ribbed with a prominent dorsal crest, perforated.
The juice of the ripe fruit yields a bluish-purple ink. Both the roots and the leaves are used in native medicine and as a tonic. In various rural and tribal parts of India, the herb is still used for treating gynecological problems, weakness and bleeding disorders.
Cocculus hirsutus climbing vine 

5. Wild Grape:

The sizeable herbaceous climber grows with a tuberous rootstock. It features a hollow stem and branches, circular or broadly heart-shaped leaves.
Available in hundreds of species, this vine can be grown along roadsides, fences, vacant urban lots, river banks, and across tree canopies. Amongst a variety of available species, you can raise V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, Vitis californica, Vitis girdiana, Vitis riparia, and Vitis labrusca.
The wild grape vine produces small fragrant white flowers that bloom in early summer. Birds and small mammals love to feed on the fruit. The grapes can also be used for wine, mead, juice, jam, and raisins. Not only the fruit, but its green and broad leaves can be eaten fresh, blanched, or dried.
wild grape vining plant

Now that you know the best five vining plant varieties, let’s understand where can you grow them in the garden:

1. Pergolas:

Pergolas are about 10’ tall and hence make a fantastic choice for vining plants. When vining plants take over a pergola, they give it a timeless appeal, provide shade and a lovely contrast to the open sky. Read about type of plant supports.
garden pergola for vining plants

2. Walls:

For walls, it is advisable that you choose plants with aerial rootlets or sucker disks that attach themselves firmly to a structure. Do not go for twining or tendril vines as they will find it difficult to cling to the wall. English ivy is one of the most popular choices for home gardeners.
wall climbing plants

3. Fences:

You can turn an otherwise drab looking fence into a stunning feature by growing vines onto it. You could mix and match flowering vines with interesting foliage varieties to add an interesting effect.
climbing plants for fences

4. Arches:

This common backyard accessory would look gorgeous when decorated with vining plants. You could choose vines that would grow from one side of the arch to the other. Flowering varieties would add subtle bursts of colors onto the arches covered with a green quilt.
So, which varieties are you planning to grow? Or have you planted vines at home? Share pictures and comments in the section below.