Nondestructive Climbing Vines
March 28, 2007 7:56 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for a nondestructive climbing vine that does well in shade.

I have two planters on my apartment balcony that I would like to fill with a vine that can grow over the top of the metal guardrail. I thought about English Ivy, but having seen the mess it can make, I am looking for other options. Specifically, I would like a vine that can wrap around the posts without sticky pads that could damage paint and concrete. Many of the sources I have found omit this important information. I live in the 5a/5b plant hardiness zone and only get direct sunlight in the evening. Any ideas?
posted by pheideaux to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Clematis doesn't mind shade, and shouldn't damage anything. Plus, you get pretty flowers!
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:03 AM on March 28, 2007

I second the Clematis.
posted by ourobouros at 8:13 AM on March 28, 2007

Clematis (a perennial) is an excellent choice, as are annual vines like Morning Glory or Sweet Pea. All three use a non-invasive tendril system for attaching, and have nice foliage, so even if you don't get enough sun for flowers, you still have attractive greenery, and they'll all do well in your zone. All three are pretty easy to manipulate and rearrange and you can take the tendrils and wrap them wherever you want them to go. The annual vines are super fast growers, and you can save the seed and replant each spring with last year's seeds.
posted by iconomy at 8:44 AM on March 28, 2007

There are also some types of honeysuckle and jasmine that can handle at least part shade and are very fragrant. As one who deals with invasive species I'd veto English Ivy right off the bat (and it does damage to the surfaces it climbs and can be trouble for wildlands in many areas) and next on the chopping block would be Morning Glory (your neighbors will soon hate you as they pull up volunteer vines for years on end).
posted by rosebengal at 11:12 AM on March 28, 2007

Volunteer vines shouldn't be a problem in this case - these are in planters on an apartment balcony - any offshoots can easily be found and pinched. Honeysuckle is a great idea....the fragrance! It's the best.
posted by iconomy at 11:45 AM on March 28, 2007

A note: morning glory prefers full sun, or at the very least morning sun. It will probably still grow - but I don't know if it would be .. well.. as glorious! Also, it is very self-seeding and will drop seed pods on the ground, which might make your landlords a bit grumpy.
But dang, it's beautiful.
posted by media_itoku at 12:42 PM on March 28, 2007

I am currently trying this in San Francisco, which is a shady place in general. The plants I chose are scarlet runner beans, jasmine, and morning glories. Scarlet runner beans have beautiful flowers and grow very quickly; they also make edible beans.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:55 PM on March 28, 2007

Dave's Garden has a lot of the information you're looking for*. You can't search directly without a fee, however you can search nicely using Google** which gives a lot of good results. Note comments from people who have grown them who say that otherwise aggressive vines which prefer sunlight will grow, less aggressively, in shade.

*It doesn't have direct information about how each vine climbs, but most twine anyway so you can probably pick out a few that you like and then double check Wikipedia to make sure.

**Of course if you use the site a lot you might consider subscribing/donating anyway, but for a quick glance through, Google is acceptable.
posted by anaelith at 2:00 PM on March 28, 2007

Thunbergia alata twines rather than grabs. It also flowers enthusiastically in shade.
posted by tangerine at 2:32 PM on March 28, 2007

If you plant morning glories and are very lucky, you may attract some gold bugs, little beetles about half the size of lady bugs, which are such a brilliant, molten gold I still have a little trouble believing they really exist. And even though you will be mightily tempted, don't try to keep one if you do-- as far as I know, no one has succeeded in keeping them from turning a muddy brown after they die.
posted by jamjam at 4:09 PM on March 28, 2007

Varigated vinca is a fast growing ground cover. I've seen it used in planters with great results. It has a soft stem and easy to hold in check.

Here in zone 9 we have a plant called "Potato Vine". It has large vivid green leaves, fills hanging baskets very nicely.
posted by JujuB at 6:51 PM on March 28, 2007

A more formal name for the gold bug is the Golden Tortoise Beetle, and here is a picture which does not do near as good a job as I'd like of conveying its astonishing beauty, but is striking even so, I think.
posted by jamjam at 11:47 AM on March 29, 2007

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