Kudzu — the rampant vine from Asia that has taken over parts of the Southeast U.S. — has given vines a bad name. Payne's well-behaved hardy perennial vines can be wonderful additions to the Northern New Mexico home landscape. They can bring charm to lampposts, mailboxes, porch columns, bare walls and ugly chainlink fences; reduce heat buildup in the structures they climb on; provide flowers to delight the eyes (and in some cases, the nose as well); and can provide habitat and food to wild birds and other critters.
While all the following vines need regular deep watering when first planted in order to establish their roots, once established they can be remarkably drought tolerant (see notes after each entry).
If you rent, or are worried that a coveted vine might take over your yard, consider growing it in a half-barrel or large planter with a freestanding trellis attached to it or against a trellised wall. (Make sure that the planter has drainage holes drilled into the bottom so the vine doesn't get waterlogged.) However you grow them, all vines benefit from judicious pruning of weak or dead branches in early spring before new growth begins.
Here are a few of the vining treasures suitable for planting in Santa Fe and environs. Check with Sabino at Payne's South (505-988-9626) or Ephraim at Payne's North (505-988-8011) for availability. Remember that, as with any shrub, perennial vines require correct soil prep, planting, water, and fertilization for best results. For tips on how to plant shrubs (including vines), click here. And if there are any vines you'd like that you don't see listed here, email us with your requests by clicking here and we'll see what we can do about finding them for you.
BOSTON IVY (Parthenocissus tricuspidata): Hardy Zones 3-10. To 40'+ tall. Vigorous species native to China and Japan; thrives on moderate water (1 deep watering weekly) and in filtered shade. Shiny, large green leaves on wall-clinging vine that clings to walls, leaving a lovely winter tracery after the leaves drop; leaves turn rich burgundy in fall. 'Green Showers' has large 10" leaves.
CLEMATIS (Clematis sp.): Hardy Zones 3-9, depending on the variety. Exquisite, long-lived, deciduous climbers in the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae) for full sun to part shade. Naturally adapted to alkaline soils, clematises do very well in Northern New Mexico as long as they are given a well-drained site (they hate standing winter wet) and are mulched around the roots — the Rule of Thumb is, "Roots in the shade, head in the sun." Give their stems support for twining, such as a trellis or tree trunk, and feed monthly with one of Payne's primo liquid plant foods such as liquid Gro-Power™. Many types in different colors; plants usually bloom in early summer, some with fragrant flowers, and their blossoms are followed by decorative airy seedheads. Some varieties include:
- Alpine Clematis 'Ruby' (Clematis alpina 'Ruby'): Hardy Zones 3-9; to 10-13' tall. Drooping double ruby blossoms in spring. Needs good drainage and moist soil.
- 'Blue Ravine' (Clematis 'Blue Ravine'): Hardy Zones 4-9; to 6-10' tall. Leathery leaves; soft violet flowers in spring and again in summer. Water when top 3" of soil is dry.
- 'Ètoile Violette' (Clematis viticella 'Ètoile Violette'): Hardy Zones 4-9; to 8-12' tall. Deep violet blossoms in summer. Water when top 3" of soil is dry. The name means "violet star."
- 'Jackman Superba' (Clematis x jackmanii 'Jackman Superba'): Hardy Zones 4-9; to 10-12' tall. Deep purple flowers with broad petals June to frost, with the heaviest bloom in early summer; flowers fade as they age. Very popular; needs moist soil.
- "Piilu™" (Clematis 'Little Duckling'): Hardy Zones 3-9; to 6' tall. Very floriferous; blooms are borne summer to fall all over the plant from top to bottom. Earliest flowers are double; later ones single; all are centered in deep purplish-pink with outer petals pink to rose. Water when top 3" of soil is dry.
- Pink Anemone Clematis (Clematis montana 'Rubra'): Hardy Zones 6-9; to 20-25' tall. Purplish to bronzy green foliage; fragrant pink flowers in summer.
GRAPE VINE: Many varieties of the hardier grapes can do well in Northern New Mexico; for detailed tips on Rocky Mountain grape growing, click here.
HONEYSUCKLE (Lonicera sp.): Hardy Zones 3-9. Deciduous twiners bearing trumpet or tube shaped flowers, often deliciously scented, in spring or summer. Give them something to climb on. All do best with weekly deep waterings. Some commonly available varieties are:
- Gold Flame Honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrottii 'Goldflame'): Zones 4-10. Everblooming spring to frost, from 12-15' tall, with blue-green leaves and 1.5" slightly fragrant two-lipped blossoms coral-pink on the outside and yellow within.
- Hall's Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica 'Halliana'): Zones 3-10. Often invasive in the East, out here in the Southwest in our dry soils this cultivar of the Japanese honeysuckle is fairly restrained and treasured for its intensely perfumed blossoms, which open all summer, white at first then aging to old gold. They are particularly fragrant in the early evening and after a rain. Hummingbirds love them and so will you. To 30' if left unpruned; the flowers are followed by berries relished by birds.
- Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens 'Magnifica'): Zones 4-10; native to Eastern U.S. A shrubby twiner that can get 10-20' tall if given support, with green leaves blue-green on their undersides and very showy, scentless, bright orange-yellow to reddish-orange tubular blossoms borne from late spring into summer. Flowers are followed by scarlet fruit.
SILVER LACE VINE (Fallopia baldschuanica, syn. F. aubertii, formerly Polygonum aubertii): Hardy Zones 3-10. Drought-tolerant, vigorous, 40'+ twining deciduous vine with copious sprays of small, white to pinkish flowers followed by papery white fruits spring to fall (or mid to late summer if you cut it back hard in late winter). Great screen plant, it covers ugly walls and fences like nobody's business. Needs little water once established. Best in full sun.
TRUMPET VINE (Campsis radicans syn. Bignonia radicans): Hardy Zones 3-10. Eastern U.S. native with dense, divided foliage; beautiful lobed trumpets in various shades of scarlet-orange midsummer to fall. Adaptable water requirements, fast-growing up to 40’. For full sun to part shade. Hummingbird candy!
VIRGINIA CREEPER (Parthenocissus quinquefolia): Hardy Zones 3-10. Eastern U.S. native in the Grape Family (Vitaceae), growing from 50-60' tall, with loosish growth and 5-part, sawtoothed leaves that emerge bronze-green, mature to dark semiglossy green, and turn a beautiful crimson and burgundy in fall. The variety P. q. 'Engelmannii' has smaller leaves and a denser growth habit than the species. Virginia creepers climb by suction discs at the ends of its tendrils, which attach themselves to smooth surfaces; these vines are widely used not only as vertical wall-covers, but are also trained into trees or allowed to run over the ground for erosion control. Inconspicuous flowers become blue-black fruits appreciated by birds. For sun or shade.
WISTERIA (Wisteria sp.): Deciduous vines in the Bean Family (Fabaceae), with dangling panicles of sweetly-scented white to purplish flowers in spring and woody stems and trunks that can take pruning and shaping. Wisterias are often grown as shrubs or standards as well as on trellises and arbors. All can do well in full sun to part shade; need good drainage with occasional deep watering once established (mulch is helpful); and in our alkaline soils, may require an annual application of Ironite™ or Ferri-Plus™ iron supplement to help prevent or correct leaf-yellowing (chlorosis).
Wisterias grown from seed sometimes do not bloom for many years; make sure you buy cutting-grown or grafted plants to be sure of early bloom (a grafted wisteria has had wood from a named variety grafted onto vigorous wild wisteria rootstock to ensure plant adaptability and longevity).
Occasionally shoots spring up from the wild rootstock onto which the named varieties have been grafted; if you see such shoots, called "suckers," cut them off. Otherwise, the wild suckers may crowd out the shoots from the more beautiful named variety. Some popular varieties include:
- 'Amethyst Falls' (Wisteria frutescens 'Amethyst Falls'): Hardy Zones 5-9; 15-20' tall. An American species, less aggressive than Chinese wisteria (see below), with fragrant, deep purple to lilac spring flowers that rebloom into midsummer. Blooms on new wood, so may be pruned or shaped any time.
- Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis): Hardy Zones 6-10. Quick-growing to 30’ or more. Slightly fragrant violet-blue flowers appear before leaflets in mid to late spring. Wonderful vine for arbors.
- Kentucky Wisteria 'Aunt Dee' (Wisteria macrostachya 'Aunt Dee'): Hardy Zones 4-9. Southern U.S. native species, 25' tall by 35-40' wide at maturity. A long-lived, quick-growing, early-blooming variety that bears fragrant clusters of deep purple flowers in spring. Leaves turn yellow in fall.
- Kentucky Wisteria 'Blue Moon' (Wisteria macrostachya 'Blue Moon'): As above, with 10-12" racemes of lavender-blue blossoms in spring.