I'm thinking not Kudzu, smartass.
April 19, 2006 1:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm building a dingus (a pavilion, pergola, what have you) similar to this, and I'd like to get some fast growing leafy vines to provide shade in the summer. I live in upstate New York (zone 3 or 4), and the area will get a good amount of direct sun. Any suggestions? I was thinking American Bittersweet - any pros or cons to that?
posted by juliewhite to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
kill two birds with one stone; Hops.
posted by Gungho at 2:02 PM on April 19, 2006

I need to do the same thing this spring to put our old grapevines back on, since we tore down the rotting structure last fall. Grapevines, once established, grow like CRAZY every season, but I think it takes several years for the main vines to establish (ours were here when we moved in.)
Morning Glories also grow super fast, like over a parked car overnight. You could maybe plant some grapes or clematis or something and have some Morning Glories up for now, while you wait.
Love to see your pergola plans. Are you doing it yourself?
posted by chococat at 2:07 PM on April 19, 2006

Bittersweet is a weed and a scourge. I'm convinced that most of Massachusetts is held together by bittersweet and sumac. I saw alocal garden center selling it and nearly wet myself laughing. If you really want it, stop by my house and I'll pay you pull it up and take it away.

Hops will grow and die back every year, but you might not get all the growth you want in one season unless you plant a lot of it. It usually costs about $3 per root segment. You might want to see if you have a local homebrew shop, as they sometimes sell hops roots for growers. Hops are also a food plant for a great number of butterflies.

You could also try pipevine (aka Dutchman's pipe). After a few years, you might get these wandering in.
posted by plinth at 2:31 PM on April 19, 2006

Grape vines are nice. Won't establish in just one year. When they do you can reach over your shoulder and pick a grape while you're sitting there.
Ivy (Hedera) will give year round cover.
Virginia Creeper/Boston ivy are not bad.
Wisteria will grow in zone 4, but tends to do miserably.
Clematis is pretty, don't think it would get the roof.
Morning Glories would be a quick easy shot, will die in first frost.
posted by Ken McE at 2:54 PM on April 19, 2006

black raspberries or blackberries. (tip rooting varieties, not root propagation ones or the 2 crop a season type that stops growing at about 4'.)
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:58 PM on April 19, 2006

In my Vermont Master Gardener class last night the speaker from the Nature Conservancy was speaking about invasive species, and Bittersweet was mentioned. In each case of an invasive she mentioned suggested substitutes, but I don't recall what was mentioned as a replacement for bittersweet. I suggest checking with your local Nature Conservancy to see what is on the invasive list in your area.

Good luck.
posted by terrapin at 5:21 PM on April 19, 2006

Sweet autumn clematis. It can grow 15-20 feet in a season, blooms late when not much else does, and it's fragrant.

Any of the non-invasive variieties of honeysuckle. (The weed is the L. japonica, so avoid that.) Rapid, even rampant growth and usually fragrant.

Climbing and/or rambling roses. You can find varieties in just about any color you want, some thornless (or mostly so). Very tough and not at all fussy.

If you go with wisteria, make sure your dingus is sturdy. (Not to get too personal or anything.) Wisteria can pull down lightweight or flimsy structures.

A few potentially useful links:

Dave's Garden for general info of all kinds.

Forest Farm Nursery. Their catalog is the size of a Tom Clancy paperback. They have all the usual plants, but dozens of varieties instead of two or three. They sell in larger 1-- and 5-gallon containers, as well as smaller seedlings; the larger plants get established much more quickly. Shipping from Oregon to NYC can be horrendous but they're good about giving you advice for minimizing it, but the best thing is consolidating orders with a few other gardeners.

Antique Rose Emporium. Best selection of old-fashioned and species varieties I've found. They also have foundlings from abandoned farms or cemeteries, which I like. You can search by color, fragrance, bloom period, growth habit.
posted by vetiver at 5:45 PM on April 19, 2006

Morning glories sound like a great deal: "Live fast, die young, & leave a beautiful corpse," right? They'll seed for the rest of your life, and if you don't keep ripping them up, turn into a weed you could spend the rest of your time there fighting. Go with perennials, I'd pick grapes, but I have no experience with the clematis and fancy stuff.
I'd chose wild roses, or as close to wild as you can get. They grow fast, bloom nice, and you can get rid of the unwanted ones if you like.
Warning about grapes: The wildlife enjoys them also, and are likely to beat you to the harvest depending on your area.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:50 PM on April 19, 2006

I second hops... I've got two varieties-- golden and.. um, not golden. They grow like crazy but have a scatchy leaf... and when they bloom... well, how cool is having hop blossoms (or whatever they are) blooming all over.

(easy to grow--I'm no master gardener).

I amso have clematis. First two seasons not TOO much happening- then third season-Ka-pow!
posted by beccaj at 7:12 AM on April 20, 2006

I also have bittersweet around my yard... birds love the berries just keep it in check-- cool twisty branches to havest tho.. and pretty wreathes.
posted by beccaj at 7:14 AM on April 20, 2006

You might want to consider, when choosing a flowering species, whether anyone in your vicinity has bee allergies.
posted by cookie-k at 8:09 AM on April 20, 2006

Hops - brilliant idea, thanks so much! I used to brew beer (and may do so again, just for the novelty of saying I have used my own hops), so that solution is perfect.

Probably also go with a climbing rose and possibly clematis.

Chococat, I’d love to see my pergola plans, too! Still working that out. But yes, I plan to do it myself. I’m taking a timber framing course this summer, might be an interesting route to go (why do things the easy way).

Thanks for the fantastic advice!
posted by juliewhite at 10:53 AM on April 20, 2006

beccaj writes "They grow like crazy but have a scatchy leaf..."

The scratches given by hops are seriously unpleasant, not the kind of thing I'd like on a recreation structure.
posted by Mitheral at 6:34 AM on April 21, 2006

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